The Powell High School Lady Panthers basketball team finished third at the 3A State Basketball Championships in Casper over the weekend, with hard fought wins over Worland and Star Valley. Powell’s single loss of the tournament was to Douglas, who went on to win the state championship title.
Juniors Aubrie Stenerson and Rachel Bonander earned All-State honors. They, along with senior Maddy Hanks, also earned All-Conference honors while juniors Katie McKenzie and Karlie McKenzie earned honorable mention All-Conference honors.
Lady Panthers 42, Worland 39
Powell’s first game of the 3A State Basketball Championship came against the Worland Warriors Thursday morning.
“Both teams played hard,” said PHS head coach Scott McKenzie. “I thought Worland made some good runs at us in that game and I think we continued to kind of do what we did all year and answer those.”
The Lady Panthers led 12-2 after the first quarter, but Worland made a run to decrease the PHS lead to 16-14 at the half.
The third quarter proved just as tough as the Lady Panthers trailed 25-24 with 2.6 seconds remaining. Coach McKenzie had all five of his reserves in the game to give the starters a rest because “I knew we were going to have to make a pretty solid push in that last quarter.”
With 2.6 seconds on the clock, Powell’s Michele Wagner inbounded the ball, lobbing it to Devon Curtis who drove to the hoop and scored, putting Powell up 26-25 going into the fourth quarter.
“I’m here to tell you that the out of bounds play ... was really a big play — a big moment in the game,” coach McKenzie said, praising Wagner and Curtis’ execution as “a huge turning point for us.”
Worland tied the game at 28 with 6:27 left to play in the fourth period. Stenerson made a basket with 5:46 left in regulation for the Lady Panthers to reclaim the lead 30-28.
Powell held on to the lead until the 1:16 mark, when Worland went up 39-38. But 13 seconds later, Bonander made a basket to put the Lady Panthers up by one, 40-39.
That’s where the score stood with 12.6 seconds remaining, when Stenerson was sent to the line to shoot a one-on-one. She missed her free throw and Worland grabbed the rebound, but Bonander quickly stole the ball back and was fouled with 9.3 seconds left.
Bonander went to the charity stripe for a one-on-one and knocked down both to extend the lead to 42-39.
Worland inbounded and brought the ball up the court, but was unable to score, giving Powell the win.
“The thing that was really impressive was it took us quite a while to kind of make that important spurt and we finally did that in the fourth quarter,” coach McKenzie said. He said Bonander and Stenerson
attacked the basket well, as the two scored a total of 14 points in the fourth quarter.
Bonander scored eight of her 14 total points in the final frame and Stenerson scored six of her 16 points.
“We just spurted at the right time to get the win,” coach McKenzie said.
Hanks scored eight points and Curtis finished with four. The Lady Panthers shot 52 percent inside the arc and 84 percent at the free throw line.
“This is one where free throws made a big difference,” said coach McKenzie; Stenerson, who “has been solid for us all year” at the line, went 6-for-7.
The Lady Panthers didn’t make any 3-pointers, which the coach partially attributed to Worland.
“They played good defense as well and they knew who our shooters were,” he said.
On the boards, Bonander and Hanks had seven each. Stenerson led with three steals and Karlie McKenzie and Bonander each had two; Ashtyn Heny had two assists.
Coach McKenzie gave credit to Worland — the eventual consolation champions — saying “they played really well.”
Douglas 47, Lady Panthers 30
The win over Worland placed Powell in the semifinal game against the undefeated and top-ranked Douglas Bearcats on Friday.
The Lady Bearcats would lead 16-6 after the first period.
The second quarter went to the Lady Panthers, however, as they decreased the Douglas lead to 19-15 at the half.
But Douglas pushed the lead to 33-23 in the third quarter and went on to win 47-30.
“Their transition game just finally got to us and they got some run out easy baskets,” coach McKenzie said of the second half. “But I thought that we battled hard all the way.”
Even though the game resulted in a loss, the Lady Panthers held the Lady Bearcats to their lowest score all season.
Douglas averages 65.5 points per game. In their first game, the Lady Bearcats beat Cody 66-48 and they went on to win the state championship title over Buffalo 63-52.
“They’re a nice team,” coach McKenzie said.
Bonander led Powell in scoring with eight points while Hanks and Karlie McKenzie had six apiece.
The Lady Panthers shot 24 percent from the arc, 33 percent inside the arc and never made it to the free throw line.
“We attacked and the big girl [6 foot, 4 inch, Allyson Fertig of Douglas] blocked them and we could never get a foul off her,” McKenzie said, adding that he found it “unique” that not a single free throw was shot.
On the boards, Bonander led with six and Stenerson had four.
“I thought Brea Terry came in and did some nice things for us,” coach McKenzie said. “Jasmyne [Lensegrav] came in and played really well for us. She was a great spark for us and kind of kept us motivated and going.”
Bonander, Lensegrav and Curtis each had one blocked shot.
Lady Panthers 40, Star Valley 34
The loss to Douglas had the Lady Panthers vying for third place against the Star Valley Braves.
It was a low scoring game, as both teams played solid defense.
Powell led 6-5 after one quarter, 15-11 at the half, 26-20 after the third quarter and went on to win 40-34.
While the Lady Panthers didn’t get to the foul line in their previous game, they made up for it against Star Valley, getting 35 attempts.
Of those, 24 tries came in the fourth quarter, where the Lady Panthers made only eight (33.3 percent) and they shot 40 percent for the game.
“We didn’t shoot free throws very well, but we made just enough to win and get third,” coach McKenzie said.
Powell shot 22 percent from 3-point range and 50 percent from the field.
Bonander led with 13 points, Hanks had nine and Katie McKenzie scored seven.
On the boards, Stenerson had 11 rebounds, while Bonander had five. Karlie McKenzie had three assists.
“To win against a solid team and program like Star Valley is great,” coach McKenzie said. “It was nice for these girls to have something to put in the trophy case that they can show their families when they get older that they were a part of Lady Panther [basketball].”
The team finished with an 18-8 overall record.
“What a great year we had,” coach McKenzie said. [I’m] very happy with the season and the girls’ attitude and effort. I thought they got better as the year progressed and [am] so happy for them to finish with a win.”
The Lady Panthers will lose only one senior: Hanks.
“We’re going to miss Maddy [Hanks] like crazy but we’ll have everyone else back so we’re excited for next season,” said coach McKenzie, adding that he was “so tickled” the team was able to win her very last game.
Hanks said her four years of Lady Panther basketball has “been a great ride — awesome coaches, awesome teammates, fun times. It’s been great.”
“Couldn’t be more proud. [We] played hard every single game. We just came to get it done,” said Hanks, adding that she is “just super happy with the third place finish.”
Coach McKenzie said Hanks “is a relentless player who puts 100 percent in whether it’s a full-scale practice or a walk-through as you prepare for another team. ... She plays hard all the time, she’s a positive student leader and she would do anything for her teammates. She’s been a great role model for these younger girls and we hope that they all carry on the tradition that Maddy has helped to carry on for us.”
Hanks thanked all the coaches, teammates, her family and all the fans and supporters of Lady Panther basketball.
Coach McKenzie thanked assistant coaches Troy Hildebrand and Chelsea Peek, the administration, athletic trainer Dax Mitchell, the parents, the sponsors of the Pink Out Game and the 3-Point Shootout, Scott Mangold of KPOW and all the fans and supporters of Panther athletics.
For more photos, or to order prints, click here!