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February 10, 2009 4:39 am

PHS topples No. 1 Jackson

Written by Tribune Staff

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Jackson's Sydney Leichliter (42) reacts as Lady Panthers (left to right) Kelsey Allen (hidden from view), Katie Kipp (22), Shellie Williams, Robin Thronburg, McKenzie Danforth, Kami Cooley (10), Hannah Pollart (hidden from view), Darcee Lynn and Savannah Donarski celebrate PHS's 35-34 victory last Friday. Tribune photo by David Dickey

Second-ranked Lady Panthers now 14-1

An eight-point, third-quarter deficit against the two-time defending state champions might seem insurmountable to some basketball teams.

But not the Powell High School Lady Panthers.

PHS led a long, late rally to beat the No. 1 ranked Lady Broncs of Jackson in a 35-34 thriller Friday night at PHS.
Junior Hannah Pollart hit a lay-up with 5.8 seconds remaining to boost PHS to victory and cap a 12-3 run.

“They had a couple opportunities to just give it up and die,” said PHS head coach Luke Danforth of his Lady Panthers.

However, they refused to do so.

Trailing the Lady Broncs 31-23 in the third period, PHS battled back with tough defense — Jackson would get just one field goal in the final 12 minutes of the game.

Throughout the fourth quarter, the Lady Panther defense held strong while they slowly but surely chipped away at the deficit on the offensive end. Six free throws pulled the squad within two points of the Lady Broncs.

With 3:53 left on the game clock, sophomore Leslie Thronburg evened the score at 31 with a nifty reverse lay-up.

After a Jackson timeout, Thronburg came back again, this time with a jumper, to give the Panthers a 33-31 lead, their first since early in the game.

But the Lady Broncs weren't finished yet.

The Broncs got a free throw to pull within one. Then, after multiple unsuccessful possessions for both teams and just 53 seconds remaining, the Broncs sunk a basket to take a 34-33 lead.

Now trailing, the Lady Panthers looked for a shot against a tight Jackson defensive.

With 19 seconds left, junior Savannah Donarski was fouled and sent to the free-throw line. Her two free throws failed to find their way into the hoop, and Jackson's Kelly Burns grabbed the rebound. PHS quickly fouled, sending Burns to the free-throw line for a one-and-one. On the front end of the one-and-one situation, Burns' attempt missed its mark, and Donarski came through with one of the Lady Panthers' biggest rebounds of the season.

Powell immediately called a timeout with 16.1 seconds on the clock.

The Lady Panthers then broke through Jackson's trap defense, and senior Kelsey Allen dished the ball to Pollart. Pollart drove into the paint and put up the game-winner with just less than six seconds on the clock.

In the final seconds, Jackson got the ball down the court, but was unable to get off a shot before the final buzzer sounded, sending an electrified PHS team and crowd into celebration.

Coach Danforth said the girls' obvious joy at defeating their long-time nemesis was the best part of the victory.

The Lady Panthers had not beaten Jackson in three seasons — most recently falling to the Lady Broncs 50-38 on Dec. 13.

That was the Lady Panthers' lone defeat on the season.

“This has been one they've been carrying around for a while,” the coach said.

The game opened well for the Lady Panthers. They jumped out to an early 3-0 lead, but by the end of the first period, Jackson had overtaken them. Both teams struggled offensively in the opening two quarters with cold shooting and impenetrable defense. The Lady Broncs led 18-13 at the half.

Coming out of the locker room, the Lady Panthers quickly cut the lead to two points on a 3-pointer by Allen. They hung around throughout the opening minutes of the third period. When Jackson grabbed a 26-20 lead, Allen hit another 3-pointer to make it 26-23. That would be the closest the Panthers would get for some time. Jackson quickly grew their advantage to 31-23, and ended the third period up 31-24.

“What a great team effort,” said coach Danforth. “A lot of girls came and made contributions on both offense and defense.”
Eight different Lady Panthers came down with rebounds, a category Powell led 33-15 in the game.

Scoring for the squad were Pollart (12), Allen (8), senior Darcee Lynn (7), Thronburg (6) and Donarski (2).
Coach Danforth also credited the crowd for its enthusiasm.

“Having the fans in their corner ... I think that helped down the stretch,” he said.

Jackson, who had only lost to Class 4A Cheyenne East entering the matchup with Powell, rebounded to pound Cody 55-25 on Saturday.

After the game, Coach Danforth said the PHS girls had earned a good night's sleep, but still had weekend work to do.

The ladies apparently heeded his advice. They trounced the Lady Wranglers of Pinedale 59-16 Saturday afternoon. PHS raced to a 45-8 halftime lead and never looked back. Allen hit five 3-pointers in the first half.

Allen and Pollart led the squad in scoring with 17 points each. Donarski followed with 15 and grabbed a team-high nine rebounds.

Other Lady Panthers who scored in the contest were Thronburg (4), Lynn (2), junior Katie Kipp (2) and sophomore Randi Asay (2).

This weekend, the Lady Panthers will hit the road. They'll meet up with the Lady Eagles of Lyman on Friday at 5:45 p.m., and the Lady Rangers of Kemmerer on Saturday at 12:45 p.m.

Coach Danforth said both squads are playing well and will be solid tests for PHS.