Top seed claimed: Lewis buzzer-beater wins regional title

Posted 3/5/24

For the second time in three years the Powell Panther boys’ basketball team claimed the 3A West Regional title this past weekend in Thermopolis, defeating Lyman 42-30 and Worland 71-39 to …

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Top seed claimed: Lewis buzzer-beater wins regional title


For the second time in three years the Powell Panther boys’ basketball team claimed the 3A West Regional title this past weekend in Thermopolis, defeating Lyman 42-30 and Worland 71-39 to advance to the championship game.

The Panthers capped off the weekend with an instant classic as senior guard Marshall Lewis finished his seven point fourth quarter scoring effort with a buzzer-beating jumper to defeat Lovell in the championship game 54-52 — earning a trophy and taking an undefeated record to the state tournament this weekend in Casper.



Opening up the tournament as the top seed from the northwest the Panthers (23-0) matched up with the southwest No. 4 seed Lyman Eagles (4-19).

The Panthers had a difficult start offensively trying to break down the Eagles defense and the teams were tied 7-7 after the first.

Starting out the second quarter Nathan Preator got a steal and layup to give Powell the lead, but the Eagles continued trying to play spoiler.

They regained the lead and pushed it out to six, before the Panthers cut it down to 24-20 going into the half.

“Lyman does a great job of slowing the pace of the game down with their zone and we weren’t moving the ball or ourselves with as much purpose as we needed in the first half,” coach Mike Heny said. 

Steals started turning into transition points early for the Panthers, helping spark the offense due to Lyman’s Caleb Smith preventing an inside attack in the half court offense.

“Caleb Smith inside was protecting the rim and we didn’t shoot the ball as good as we normally do early in the contest to force them to spread the floor,” Heny said. 

Smith got into foul trouble which helped Powell attack the rim and sustain a 14-0 run early in the third quarter behind Jhett Schwahn.

The scoring outburst was capped off with a Brock Johnson dunk with just over three minutes left in the quarter.

“In the second half, we moved Brock to the high post to force some matchup advantages and that allowed everyone else to get more involved as well,” Heny said. 

Lyman did not roll over, cutting the lead back down to 34-28 going into the fourth quarter.

Smith fouled out for the Eagles with 5:30 left, as Johnson pushed the lead back to double-digits 39-28 with 3:30 left.

Powell held Lyman to two points in the fourth quarter, six total in the second half and finished with a 42-30 victory.

Johnson led the way with 12 points, six rebounds and four steals for the Panthers.



After the win Thursday the Panthers moved into the semifinals, matching up against the Warriors (12-14) for the third time this season and looking to improve from the last meeting, a 62-59 overtime win in Worland.

Powell led 7-6 midway behind four Gunnar Erickson free throws, as Powell started figuring out the Worland defense that sought to slow down Erickson and Johnson.

“We wanted to screen more for Brock and Gunnar to force them into more switches and bring their two low post defenders away from the basket,” Heny said.

Despite this, Worland led 10-9 after the first, before a big second quarter separated the Panthers.

Four points early in the second from Schwahn helped Powell regain the lead, and a corner 3-pointer from Preator, the only three of the game for the Panthers, made it 18-10 midway through.

A late Johnson free throw briefly pushed it to double-digits, but Worland kept it at 24-15 heading into the break.

Johnson had a putback early in the third, and Powell quickly made it 30-15 and to force a Worland timeout.

Powell kept pressing, using strong cuts and layups to make it 38-17 after a Trey Stenerson putback.

The Panthers pushed the lead out to 51-28 heading into the final quarter.

In the fourth quarter Powell cruised, as the starters came out with 3:23 remaining and the final margin was the largest lead as Powell finished 71-39.

“Scoring 71 while making only one 3-pointer is a testament to how they attacked the rim after spreading the defense out with our ball and player movement,” Heny said.

Johnson and Erickson tied for the team lead with 15 points. Johnson led with four assists and three steals while Erickson led with eight rebounds.

Stenerson had 13 points, seven rebounds and three blocks while Schwahn was the final Panther in double-figures with 11.



Having a spot already locked up at the state tournament the Panthers took on the Bulldogs (19-7) for a fourth time this season, with the regional title on the line in a game that came down to the last shot.

A tight first quarter had the teams swapping baskets, but it was Powell that called the first time out tied 9-9 as the Panthers made uncharacteristic turnovers early.

After trailing 11-9, Erickson scored five straight before Lovell hit a buzzer beater to tie it at 14 heading into the second.

Powell was powered in the first half behind Johnson, who ended with 15 points including three 3-pointers as the Panthers looked poised to hold a solid lead heading into the half.

It was as large as 28-21 but another Lovell buzzer-beating 3-pointer made it 28-24 heading into the locker room.

A couple bad turnovers early had the Bulldogs charging back, but Powell held a 36-30 lead early in the third as Johnson continued to lead in scoring.

Powell grabbed a lot of offensive rebounds against Lovell’s zone in the third quarter, but was unable to convert a lot of chances as the Bulldogs regained the lead.

The teams went into the fourth quarter tied at 38.

A big 3-pointer by Alex Jordan gave Powell the lead back at 43-40 with 6:30 remaining, but both teams continued to battle.

Johnson picked up his fourth foul with 4:45 left and was sent to the bench with the Panthers needing to find another scoring option.

Lovell pushed the lead to four at 51-47 with just over three minutes remaining.

Lewis cut the lead to one on a 3-pointer, and eventually gave Powell the lead back with free throws to make it 52-51 with 2:31 left.

“Alex and Marshall were really big for us offensively in the second half and especially in the fourth quarter after Brock got in foul trouble,” Heny said. “They were able to pick up their scoring since Lovell really put an emphasis on making sure Gunnar didn’t get a lot of good looks on the offensive end.”

Johnson returned but quickly exited with his fifth foul and Powell would have to finish without its leading scorer who fouled out with 21 points.

“Brock has the utmost confidence in each and every one of us,” Lewis said. “With him going out I knew someone had to step up with the zone. Swinging the ball and finding the open guy was key, to fill Brock’s gap it was a team effort for sure.”

Owen Walker made one of two free throws, and tied the game with 2:15 left.

Neither team found a basket, as Powell got the rebound with 1:25 left and the Panthers worked the clock down late.

A play out of a timeout with five seconds left went to Lewis, who had options but pulled up from just below the free throw line and drilled it as time expired to get the 54-52 victory.

“It was just about having confidence. I have struggled with it in the past,” Lewis said. “You dream for moments like that and I knew somebody had to step up. I was feeling in rhythm and with a flick of the wrist it just fell for me.”

That was the second buzzer-beating shot for the Panthers against the Bulldogs this year, as Powell defeated Lovell in Thermopolis in January in the championship game of the Big Horn Basin Tournament.

“Marshall has worked extremely hard and I’ve seen him make a thousand of those shots from that elbow over the last four years,” Heny said.

It was the second regional championship in three years after Powell won on its home court in 2022.

“I would like to give thanks to all the fans that came and supported last weekend,” Heny said. “The championship game atmosphere was amazing and we really appreciate the support from the Powell community.”

Lewis had seven points for the game with all seven coming in the final three minutes.

Stenerson had a 10-point, 13-rebound double-double including eight offensive rebounds.

Erickson led with six assists.



Powell now heads to the state tournament, holding onto its perfect record with a shot at its first state title since 1998.

“We take it one game at a time. It’s great and all (regionals) but there’s a bigger prize at the end of the year and that’s what we are looking for,” Lewis said.

The Panthers enter as the top seed, and will take on east No. 4 seed Rawlins (10-15) at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday at the Ford Wyoming Center.

“We will continue to take it one game at a time like we have all year and our sole focus going into Thursday will be on Rawlins,” Heny said. “Our mentality is always to treat every opponent with respect, and we know we will have to execute well on both ends of the floor to give us the best opportunity to win.”

If Powell loses, it will drop down to the consolation bracket on Friday at noon against the loser of west No. 3 seed Worland and east No. 2 Buffalo (13-10).

If Powell wins, it will advance to the semifinal on Friday night against the winner of that contest at 7:30 p.m.

Both contests on Friday will be at Casper College.



Total rebounds then offensive rebounds in ()

Points — Brock Johnson 12, Gunnar Erickson 9, Alex Jordan 7, Jhett Schwahn 6, Trey Stenerson 3, Marshall Lewis 2, Nathan Preator 2, Dawson Griffin 1

Rebounds — Brock Johnson 6 (1), Alex Jordan 4 (2), Trey Stenerson 2 (1), Marshall Lewis 1, Jhett Schwahn 1, Gunnar Erickson 1, Cade Queen 1 (1)

Assists — Nathan Preator 2, Marshall Lewis 1, Brock Johnson 1, Gunnar Erickson 1, Cade Queen 1

Steals — Brock Johnson 4, Jhett Schwahn 2, Marshall Lewis 1, Nathan Preator 1, Gunnar Erickson 1

Blocks — Marshall Lewis 1, Trey Stenerson 1



Points — Brock Johnson 15, Gunnar Erickson 15, Trey Stenerson 13, Jhett Schwahn 11, Nathan Preator 5, Marshall Lewis 3, Alex Jordan 3, Evan Whitlock 2, Cade Queen 2, Jaxon Hancock 2

Rebounds — Gunnar Erickson 8 (2), Trey Stenerson 7 (2), Brock Johnson 6 (1), Cade Queen 3 (1), Jaxon Hancock 3 (2), Jhett Schwahn 2, Evan Whitlock 1, Marshall Lewis 1, Nathan Preator 1, Alex Jordan 1 (1)

Assists — Brock Johnson 4, Jhett Schwahn 3, Alex Jordan 3, Marshall Lewis 2, Nathan Preator 1, Trey Stenerson 1, Gunnar Erickson 1

Steals — Brock Johnson 3, Gunnar Erickson 2, Evan Whitlock 1, Alex Jordan 1

Blocks — Trey Stenerson 3, Jhett Schwahn 1, Gunnar Erickson 1



Points — Brock Johnson 21, Trey Stenerson 10, Marshall Lewis 7, Gunnar Erickson 7, Alex Jordan 5, Jhett Schwahn 4

Rebounds — Trey Stenerson 13 (8), Gunnar Erickson 8 (1), Brock Johnson 6 (2), Jhett Schwahn 5 (2), Alex Jordan 2 (1), Nathan Preator 1

Assists — Gunnar Erickson 6, Jhett Schwahn 4, Marshall Lewis 1, Trey Stenerson 1, Alex Jordan 1

Steals — Brock Johnson 1, Nathan Preator 1

Blocks — Alex Jordan 1




(All games at Ford Wyoming Center)

Game 1 — Noon: No. 2E Buffalo vs. No. 3W Worland

Game 2 — 1:30 p.m. No. 1W Powell vs. No. 4E Rawlins

Game 3 — 7:30 p.m. No. 2W Lovell vs. No. 3E Wheatland

Game 4 — 9 p.m. No. 1E Douglas vs. No. 4W Pinedale



(All games at Casper College)

Game 5 — Noon: Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2

Game 6 — 1:30 p.m. Loser Game 3 vs. Loser Game 4

Game 7 — 7:30 p.m. Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2

Game 8 — 9 p.m. Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4



Game 9 — Noon: Winner Game 5 vs. Winner Game 6 (Consolation final at Kelly Walsh)

Game 10 — 1:30 p.m. Loser Game 7 vs. Loser Game 8 (Third place game at Kelly Walsh)

Game 11 — 5 p.m. Winner Game 7 vs. Winner Game 8 (Championship game at FWC)