Panther hardwood standout signs with MCC

Bonander to take talents to lady pioneers

Posted 12/13/18

A fixture on the court for the Powell High School girls’ basketball team is heading north to Big Sky country to continue her playing career.

Powell senior Rachel Bonander, whose dominant …

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Panther hardwood standout signs with MCC

Bonander to take talents to lady pioneers

Posted

A fixture on the court for the Powell High School girls’ basketball team is heading north to Big Sky country to continue her playing career.

Powell senior Rachel Bonander, whose dominant play in the paint for the Lady Panthers earned her All-Conference and All-State honors last season, signed a letter of intent this month with Miles Community College in Miles City, Montana. The four-year PHS varsity player is expected to bring a strong inside presence to a team routinely in the hunt for a Region IX championship.

A fan of Northwest College growing up, Bonander chose to eschew staying close to home for the opportunity to make her mark with a different team.

“For me, the deciding factor was, when I went there [on campus visits and for camps], it already felt like home,” she said. “The coach made it seem really nice and comforting, and I really liked that. I didn’t want to stay close to home, so MCC seemed like a good fit. I really like the atmosphere.”

Bonander had a hand in her own recruiting, reaching out to Lady Pioneers’ head coach Nate Vogel to express an interest.

“Rachel sent me an email after I saw her play in a tournament to kind of get the recruiting process started,” Vogel said. “She came to our elite camp this summer, and things just started taking off from there.”

There are a number of aspects of Bonander’s game that appealed to her new coach, not the least of which is her mobility and nice outside shot.

“We like to have our post players be able to step out and shoot the ball,” Vogel said. “When she [Bonander] came to our elite camp, she actually won our 3-point contest. We like for our bigs to be able to step out and shoot it, and at least be a threat out there. We like her body inside, and we think she can do some things both inside and out for us, defensively as well. She’ll be a good fit for us.”

Bonander’s dad Bryan said he was pleased with his daughter’s choice of schools, though the parental side of him would have liked to have her a little closer to home. That said, he thinks MCC will be a good fit.

“The Miles City women’s program is super strong. They’ve got quite a crew. I’m excited to see her [Rachel] go there,” Bryan Bonander said. “The pace of the game sure looks a lot different; they’re a team that likes to push that ball. I think Rachel will be a good fit [though] she may have to adjust her game. They’ll pound the ball in if they can, but they sure like to fastbreak that thing too.”

Powell head coach Scott McKenzie bumped Bonander up to varsity at the end of her freshman season, calling her “an invaluable member of our program, and a large part of our success as a sophomore and junior.” Bonander averaged a double-double last season, recording 13.5 points and 10 rebounds per game en route to All-State honors, and McKenzie praised her ability to contribute anywhere on the floor.

“She [Bonander] has developed her game and can score with her left or right hand equally as well,” he said. “She has continued to work on her perimeter game and can shoot the three-ball with confidence.”

Bryan Bonander said he knew right away that his daughter had her sights set north.

“It would have been nice to have her here so we could see more games, but she really had her mind set on MCC. She really had no intention of going anywhere else,” he said. “But I’m excited for her, I think she’ll be in good hands with Coach Vogel.”

Bonander’s love of hoops began early, watching her older sister and fellow Lady Panthers standout Jennifer develop her game. A three-sport athlete at PHS, Bonander has also excelled on the volleyball court and in track and field, though basketball was always her first love.

“I’ve just always liked basketball,” she said. “I enjoy everything about it, especially playing with my teammates. I’ll miss everyone I’ve been playing with all these years.”

McKenzie said Bonander has the work ethic and skill set to succeed in the collegiate game, and looks forward to watching her progress.

“I think Rachel can play at the next level, and will be a positive contributor to the Miles City program,” he said. “We are hoping Rachel has a great senior year for the Lady Panthers and wish her the best in the future.”

As for the season at hand, Bonander said she expects Powell to be a force to be reckoned with. The senior-laden Lady Panthers opened 2018-19 going 2-1 at the East-West Classic last weekend in Lovell, and look to improve on last season’s third-place finish in the state tournament.

“We have eight seniors, and we’ve all been playing together for a really long time,” Bonander said. “Hopefully, that will take us pretty far.”

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