Top honors: Undefeated Panthers rake in recognitions

Posted 4/2/24

After a 26-0 season,   the Powell Panther boys’ basketball team continues to rake in awards, with senior Brock Johnson being named All-State for the third year in a row and the 3A West …

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Top honors: Undefeated Panthers rake in recognitions


After a 26-0 season,  the Powell Panther boys’ basketball team continues to rake in awards, with senior Brock Johnson being named All-State for the third year in a row and the 3A West Player of the Year.

Alongside Johnson, fellow seniors Gunnar Erickson and Trey Stenerson earned All-State honors for the first time, while coach Mike Heny was named the 3A West Coach of the Year and junior Alex Jordan was named All-Conference.

In what ended up becoming a historic season for the Panthers, Johnson was at the helm for Powell.

He ended his Panther career with the second most points in school history at 1,133 and broke the school record for steals earlier in the year — extending his record out to 244 by years’ end.

This year he averaged 13.7 points per game, 5.2 rebounds per game and tied for the state lead in steals at 3.8 per game.

“In my opinion, Brock was the best defensive player in our league these past three years,” Heny said. “Other coaches really respected his abilities and it showed by him winning both the 3A West Player of the Year but also being named the Co-Player of the Year for all of 3A.”

His 101 steals in a season were the second most in a season in school history.

This is Johnson’s third straight All-State honor, adding to his other All-State recognitions in baseball.

Erickson was alongside Johnson each step of the way, finishing with 14.2 points per game, tied for fourth in the state, and finishing fourth in the state for steals at 2.7 per contest.

He was the fifth Panther in history to break 1,000 points, crossing the mark in the state semifinals and ending with the fifth most points in school history with 1,021.

Erickson sank the fourth most 3-pointers in a career for the Panthers with 107, and finished fourth in career steals with 181.

This was Erickson’s first All-State selection after being named All-Conference last year.

“I was really disappointed Gunnar didn’t make All-State last year but it was great to see him break through and earn it this season. He has been a leader and one of our most invaluable players these past four years and it was awesome to see him get rewarded for all the hard work he put in,” Heny said.

The final Panther earning All-State honors was Stenerson, who served as a force in the middle for Powell throughout its undefeated campaign.

He averaged seven points for the Panthers, leading the team in rebounds at 6.1 per game while also averaging nearly a block a game.

Stenerson helped pace Powell in rebounding with nearly three of his rebounds per game being offensive.

He led the Panther starters in field goal percentage, shooting 55% for the season.

“Having Trey on the All-State team was also a well-deserved honor as he really dominated at times this season,” Heny said. “His rebounding was always good but he became a really good post defender and shot blocker for us and we wouldn’t have been as dominant on defense without his presence inside.”

This added to Stenerson’s growing All-State honors, after being named All-State in football and baseball as well.

The final athlete receiving postseason honors for the Panthers was Jordan, who stepped into a starting role at times throughout the season but served primarily as one of the first options off the bench for the Panthers.

He averaged 7.5 points per game, leading the team in 3-point shooting percentage at 37%, which was sixth in the state and second in the 3A West.

This was his first postseason honor in basketball, as he will likely step into a starting role for the Panthers next year.

“Alex breaking through and being a unanimous All-Conference selection while coming off the bench for us shows how good of a season he had,” Heny said. “It was a great luxury to have a player that talented coming off the bench and he really created a lot of matchup problems for other teams. It will be fun to watch him continue to improve and build upon the success he had this year.”

At the helm for the Panthers was Heny, who has led the Panthers to two regional titles and a state championship in his four years since returning to the head coach position in his second stint.

He said the 26 wins are the most in a season in school history, and the current 28 wins dating back to the state tournament in 2023 is the longest winning streak over multiple years in school history.

“It’s always nice to be recognized by your peers when receiving an award for a successful season,” Heny said. “Coach of the Year is always a reflection of the effort the kids have made throughout the season so I give a lot of credit to my players for how well they played and how they carried themselves on the court.”

Powell finished with the second best scoring and defensive scoring team in the state behind Douglas.

This edition of the Panthers scored the fourth most points in a season in school history with 1,586 and had the second most steals in a season with 330.

Other school records this year included tying for most 3-pointers in a game at 10, second highest field goal percentage in a game at 69%, highest point spread in a game at 63 points and the second fewest points allowed in a quarter at one point.

Powell finished tied for the best defensive field goal percentage at 36% with Thermopolis and Lovell, and tied for the second best shooting percentage in the state at 45% alongside Wheatland but behind Douglas.

The Panthers had an average margin of victory of 21.1 in their title run.

“I’ve been fortunate to coach a lot of great players throughout my tenure, but this group was special in that they all cared for each other and all worked towards the same goal,” Heny said. “It’s probably the most closely knit group I’ve ever worked with as a whole and that’s what made it even more special.”