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January 20, 2009 4:11 am

Panther boys edge Lovell, Riverton

PHS's winning streak reaches three games

The Powell High School Panthers, riding the momentum of a Jan. 10 victory over Lyman, picked up road wins against Riverton and Lovell late last week to even their overall record at 5-5.

PHS edged Riverton 54-51 Friday and followed with a 46-43 decision over Lovell the following day. Those wins left the Panthers holding a three-game winning streak.

“There were a ton of positives for us over the weekend,” said PHS head coach Troy Hildebrand. “That was a good test for us at Riverton against a quality 4A team. We knew they would use man-to-man pressure against us, and our guys responded well. Riverton came out with full-court pressure at the start, but we handled it and got them out of their press for about two and a half quarters.

“Our guys were pretty tired after that game, but they still came out the next night and played hard against a good Lovell team. You could tell we were a little tired, but our guys fought through that and got another big win.”

Against Riverton, Hildebrand said the Panthers were aggressive when it came to attacking the basket. Of PHS's 22 field goals in the game, 17 came from inside the paint. On the other end of the court, Hildebrand said his squad primarily used a zone defense, which proved to be effective against the Wolverines' offensive attack.

At halftime, PHS held a 28-21 advantage and pushed the lead to nine points in the third period. However, the Wolverines closed the gap and took a 40-38 lead by the start of the fourth and final quarter.

“Once they tied it, it was a back-and-forth game,” Hildebrand said. “From about the middle of the third to the late stages of the fourth, it was either a two-point game or tied. The bright spot for us in the game was that we were able to answer the challenge when we had to, and it wasn't just one or two players stepping up. Everybody made contributions, and that's what helped us get the win in a close game.”

Late in the contest, Hildebrand said PHS point guard Jordan Brown hit a key 3-point basket that put the Panthers ahead by five points with just more than three minutes to play. With nine seconds left and PHS up by two points, Matt McArthur hit a pair of clutch free throws to seal the victory.

PHS, despite facing a great deal of defensive pressure, finished with only 13 turnovers. The Panthers also got a boost from four players who recorded double-digit point totals. Galen Mills and Ryan Brandt paced the offense with 14 points each, and Brown and McArthur added 12 each. The scoring was rounded out by Gavin Mills, who had two points. Brandt also led the rebounding effort with eight boards. Brown chipped in with five assists and three steals.

On Saturday night, the Panthers traveled to Lovell for a Class 3A, West Conference matchup and came away with a 46-43 win. The victory snapped a five-game losing streak against the Bulldogs.

Hildebrand said fatigue played a role in the game, particularly in the early stages. The Panthers, who returned to Powell at 1 a.m. Saturday following their road game with Riverton, got behind 20-9 by the start of the second period. Lovell's lead grew to as many as 14 points, but the Panthers never gave up and began cutting into the deficit.

A 7-0 run by PHS in the second quarter kept the game close after it appeared it might get out of hand. By halftime, the Panthers trailed by only six.

“To our guys' credit, even when they were down 14, they never let up,” Hildebrand said. “That 7-0 run was big, and that's what helped get us back in the game.”

The Panthers, working against a zone defense by Lovell, took the lead during the third period. And once they got it, they never trailed again. Lovell threatened to tie the game after cutting its deficit to 38-36 with less than three minutes to play, but McArthur hit a 3-pointer from the corner to push PHS's lead to five points.

“That was a big shot, and after that we were able to hit free throws down the stretch,” Hildebrand added. “During the last minute, we missed on a one-and-one situation, but Ryan Brandt got the offensive rebound for us. He took a negative and turned it into a positive, and that was a big boost for us at a critical time in the game.”

The Panthers had three players notch double-digit point totals in the game. Brandt led the way with 17 points, and Brown and McArthur added 11 and 10 points, respectively. Galen Mills chipped in with six points, and Gavin Mills added two to round out the offensive effort. Brandt and McArthur paced the rebounding effort with 12 and six boards.

• Up next: The Panthers (5-5 overall, 2-3 West Conference) have one game this week, but it is a big one. On Friday, PHS will travel to face West Conference rival Cody in a 7:30 p.m. contest.

“Coach (Jay) McCarten has those guys playing well,” Hildebrand said. “It will be another tough challenge for us because I know we'll get their best effort Friday night.”

A half-dozen Powell Tribune staffers traveled to Cheyenne this past week for the Wyoming Press Association's winter convention.

The convention brings people from newspapers around the state together for interaction, education and competition.

Throughout the three-day convention, conversation consistently turned to how the combination of the Internet and the nation's economy is changing the newspaper business, forcing staff reductions, closures and restructures across the country.

The good news for those of us in small-town Wyoming is that community newspapers continue to fill an important role in our lives. Google can help us learn almost anything about the world around us, but to keep up on happenings and events in our own backyards, we still rely on local newspapers.

In turn, those papers must focus on the needs of their readers: What do they care about? What do readers want to know? What's most important?

It's not that this challenge hasn't presented itself before. Powell's centennial year, 2009, also marks 100 years for the Powell Tribune. In earlier decades, local newspapers were threatened by the advent of radio, then television and other new technologies. Somehow, community newspapers have survived — mostly by continuing to focus on the lives and needs of their readership.

Rest assured that, as we enter the Tribune's second century, our focus will remain on our readers.

January 20, 2009 3:32 am

PHS girls win two more

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Powell High School's Darcee Lynn (right) drives for a basket during the second half of the Lady Panthers' victory over Riverton Friday night in Powell. Tribune photo by David Dickey

Run record to 9-1

The wins just keep coming for the second-ranked, Class 3A Lady Panthers basketball squad.

The Powell High School team picked up its eighth and ninth wins of the season on Friday and Saturday, beating Riverton, 45-33, and Lovell, 55-46.

January 20, 2009 4:07 am

Bob McNeill

(Feb. 5, 1935 - Jan. 15, 2009)

Bob McNeill, 73, died Thursday, Jan. 15 at Powell Valley Hospital.

He was born on Feb. 5, 1935, in Flint, Mich., to Lynn and Ruby McNeill. On Feb. 16, 1957, he married Dorothy Ort in Casper. The couple had three children.

Bob was a teacher for Lamont Public Schools of Lamont, Wash., and Park County School District No. 1 in Powell. He also worked as a teacher/administrator for the Lower Kuskowin School District of Bethel, Alaska.

Survivors include his wife, Dorothy; son Ron (Alesa) McNeill of Honolulu, Hawaii; daughter Ede (Jim) Dozier of Cody; son-in law, Greg Bentley of Garland; brother Pat McNeill of Kennewick, Wash.; five grandchildren, Jared and Trent Dozier, Corrie and Lee Bentley and Amy McNeill; and five great-grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by his parents; daughter, Von Bentley; granddaughter, Kaycie Bentley; and his brother, Lynn McNeill.

Cremation has taken place. Memorial services were held Monday, Jan. 19, at Thompson Funeral Home.

Memorials may be made to the Absarokee Lodge No. 30 in Powell.

January 18, 2009 1:15 pm

Charlotte Ficken

(April 10, 1914 – Jan. 12, 2009)

Charlotte (Schweizer) Ficken died Monday, Jan. 12, at Aspen Meadows in Billings, Mont. She was 94.

She was born in Lincoln, Neb., on April 10, 1914 to Emma (Fritz) and Christian Schweizer. She grew up in New Raymer, Colo., where her father owned a meat market. She graduated from high school in New Raymer and went to business school for a year in Lincoln, Neb.

She married her high school sweetheart Howard Ficken, and they were married for 63 years. To this marriage four children were born: Diane, Karen, Linda and Steve.

Charlotte was a wonderful mother and caregiver. She was active in many organizations for her children: Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, PTA and Job's Daughters, and she was also a longtime member of Eastern Star.

Charlotte and Howard lived in Powell for more than 50 years. After Howard's death in 1998 she moved to Billings to be closer to her daughter Diane, although she left her heart in Powell. She greatly missed her friends, neighbors, bridge club and especially the Union Presbyterian Church in Powell. She was employed for a time in retail sales which she enjoyed, especially at Nellemay's in Powell.

She was preceded in death by her husband Howard, her parents, a daughter Karen, and son-in-law, Gary Noddings.

She is survived by her children, Diane Noddings, Linda Manson, and Steve (Gwen) Ficken; grandchildren Chad (Madeline) Noddings, Cara (Thaddeus) Noddings Russo, Cavin (Joan) Noddings, Jane Gilmore, Dr. Tony (Katie) Manson, Stacy Arnold, Tara Ficken and Brian Ficken; great-grandchildren Chari and Cayden Noddings, Cole and Madison Russo. Max, Claire and Natalie Noddings, Hayley, Shelby and Jordan Gilmore, Katie and Tristan Arnold, and her brother and sister-in-law, Lloyd and Mary Schweizer and their son, Steve.

Funeral services were held Monday, Jan. 19 at Union Presbyterian Church in Powell with interment at Crown Hill Cemetery.

Remembrances may be shared with the family by visiting www.michelottisawyers.com
Michelotti-Sawyers Mortuary was charge of arrangements.

January 17, 2009 12:39 pm

Powellink fiber network nearly done

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Dennis Vrooman, with Powellink, works on an electrical meter connected to the home of Wayne Meidinger of Powell Wednesday morning. Meidinger's home is one of the first to receive fiber-optic service through Powellink. Vrooman, of Salt Lake City, has worked on the citywide fiber project in Powell for the past six months. Tribune photo by Carla Wensky

11 of 13 fiber optic zones completed

After years of planning and months of waiting, some Powell residents are beginning to receive fiber-optic service for telephone, Internet and television at their homes.

As of Wednesday, splicing and testing were completed on 11 of the 13 Powellink zones. The 11 completed zones were released to Tri-County Telephone (TCT), the company providing service to local customers.

Look again

Bills before the 2009 Wyoming Legislature run the gamut this year, touching on just about every aspect of life in Wyoming.

If passed, measures before the Legislature this year would affect state residents in many ways, ranging from property tax relief (House Bills 37, 68, 87 and 138) to prohibiting smoking in enclosed public places (House Bill 31).

High school students in Powell and other towns in the Big Horn Basin will have an opportunity to earn college credits under an agreement with Northwest College.

The Park County School District No. 1 board unanimously approved an agreement establishing a three-year pilot program providing for concurrent-enrollment classes at Powell High School.

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Powell High School head coach Cindi Smith has been named Class 3A Volleyball Coach of the Year by the Wyoming Coaches Association. Tribune photo by Don Amend

Smith credits players for honor

Powell High School volleyball coach Cindi Smith has been named Class 3A Volleyball Coach of the Year by the Wyoming Coaches Association, but she says the honor belongs to her team as well.

“I feel honored,” Smith said of the award, “but it's what we've all done together that earned it.”

January 15, 2009 3:36 am

NWC wrestling reaping benefits

Tough early schedule paying off for NWC

Prior to the start of the 2008-09 season, Northwest College head coach Andy Ward made it clear that his Trappers were facing a difficult early schedule.

Making the early portion of the slate even more challenging was the fact that NWC's roster boasted just three sophomores. Of those, only two were returning players from the 2007-08 squad — Julian Olubuyi and Jordan Harris. The third sophomore, Cody Ball, transfered to NWC from Montana State University-Northern.

As Ward expected, his squad took several lumps starting out, and after a half dozen games were in the record books, NWC had a 1-5 mark against teams with more experience.

“By playing a lot of tough teams early, it showed the guys the level they were going to have to reach in order to be successful,” Ward said. “Doing that can be difficult, especially when you're dealing with a young team. But I think it has paid off.”

During that six-game span starting out, the Trappers fell to the College of Eastern Utah twice, North Idaho College, Central Florida Community College and the College of Southern Idaho. The lone victory in that stretch was a 90-78 win over Central Arizona College.

Since the second loss of the season to Eastern Utah in mid-November, however, the Trappers have proven to be almost unbeatable, as evidenced by their eight wins in the last nine games. The Trappers also have a four-game winning streak that includes decisions over Western Nebraska Community College, Laramie County Community College, Miles Community College and Central Wyoming College.

NWC (9-6) is now 1-0 in Region IX's North Sub-Region and 2-0 in the Wyoming Community College Athletic Conference. Their WCCAC mark could get even better Friday and Saturday after road matchups with Casper College and Western Wyoming Community College.

“We have a chance to pull off a sweep, and if we can do that, we'll be in the driver's seat as far as the conference goes,” Ward said. “But we're going to have to play our best basketball of the year for that to happen.”

Casper currently has a 5-14 record in what has proven to be a season of transition. The team is coached by Joel Davidson, who is in his first year with the Thunderbirds after replacing departed, long-time coach Gary Becker.

Davidson previously enjoyed a successful coaching stint at Sheridan College, where he was twice named Region IX Coach of the Year.

Though the Thunderbirds' record isn't eye-catching, Ward said their series of recent performances is.

In a pair of road games last weekend, Casper defeated Eastern Wyoming College and LCCC. Eastern Wyoming, coincidentally, is the team that handed NWC its only loss in its last nine games.

“Casper has won three of its last four, so we know it's going to be a challenge for us,” Ward said. “Right now, our focus is on them.”

After Friday's game with the Thunderbirds, the Trappers will have to be ready for a matchup with WWCC in Rock Springs Saturday. Like Casper, the Mustangs (11-8) just completed a road sweep of EWC and LCCC.

“Western Wyoming is a lot like us,” Ward said. “They have a young team, and they played a tough schedule early.”

With this weekend's matchups against formidable opponents looming, Ward said he will be counting on his players to continue playing well-rounded basketball. In particular, Ward will be looking for Olubuyi, the Trappers' starting point guard, to continue providing the leadership he's displayed throughout the season.

Through the 2008 portion of the season, Olubuyi averaged 14.2 points per contest, and just last week the sophomore scored a combined 36 points during victories against Miles and Central Wyoming. Twenty-six of those points came against Central Wyoming in a game where Olubuyi grabbed seven rebounds and dished out four assists.

“Julian has definitely been a key factor for us,” Ward said. “He's been playing with a lot of consistency at point guard. He's one of our team captains, and he's done a good job of providing a lot of leadership.”

Casper Hesseldal, a 6-6 freshman from Aarhus, Denmark, also has shouldered much of the scoring load. Through NWC's first 14 games, he averaged almost 15 points per game, and like Olubuyi, he also finished last week's two-game stretch with 36 points. He even was among the squad's leading rebounders in last week's victories.

But NWC's fortunes aren't solely based on Olubuyi and Hesseldal. A number of players have made significant contributions on both ends of the court and rank among the team's statistical leaders. Freshman Ricardo Bodra, a 6-6 freshman from Sao Paulo, Brazil, is among Region IX's top rebounders and is a threat to notch a double-double every game. Freshman Mitchell Ackelson also has proven to be a player who can put up big numbers, as evidenced by his 27-point effort against Williston State College during the first half of the season.

Jordan Harris, also a team captain, has put up solid numbers as well, including a 27-point scoring effort in a memorable, 77-54 dismantling of Northeastern Junior College during the First National Bank and Trust Shootout in November.

“Probably our biggest strength is the number of weapons we have,” Ward said. “We've got quite a few guys who can go out and put a lot of points on the scoreboard. We've got four or five guys averaging double figures in scoring, and that makes it tough for opposing defenses when you are getting that kind of production on the offensive end.”

NWC's matchup against the Thunderbirds Friday in Casper is scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m. Saturday's contest against WWCC is slated for 5 p.m.