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December 16, 2008 3:41 am

Shooting woes contribute to a pair of Panther loses

Written by Tribune Staff

Panthers fall to Pinedale, Jackson

Struggles on the offensive end of the court for the Powell High School Panthers translated into a pair of Class 3A, West Conference setbacks last week.

On Friday, the Panthers (2-3 overall, 0-2 West Conference) dropped a 66-48 decision to Pinedale. The following day, Jackson topped PHS 44-41 in a game that went into overtime.

“Our experience is allowing us to run our offense and get good shots,” said PHS head coach Troy Hildebrand.

“Unfortunately, we weren't able to take advantage of those scoring opportunities. We missed a lot of open shots in both games, and that's something we'll continue to work on in practice.”

The Panthers opened the two-game road swing against Pinedale by scoring 16 points in the first four minutes of the first period for an eight-point advantage. However, the Wranglers fought back and trailed 18-15 by the end of the quarter. The game remained close during the second period, and the Panthers carried a 29-27 lead into halftime.

The Wranglers overtook PHS in the third period and by the end of that eight-minute span, the host team was ahead 46-37. With the game still close in the fourth period and PHS down by only seven points, Pinedale tacked on a basket to go up by 10. An ensuing technical foul on a Panther player led to a successful free throw by Pinedale. The Wranglers, who got possession of the ball after the free throws following the infraction, added another basket to go ahead by 13.

“That was a big turning point in the game,” Hildebrand said. “We never got closer than 12 points after that.”

Ryan Brandt led the Panthers' scoring effort with a career-high 22 points on a 10-of-13 shooting effort. He also had five steals and four rebounds. Others contributing to Powell's offensive output were Matt McArthur (9 points), Jordan Brown (5), Gavin Mills (4), Matt Kifer (4), Brandon Sullivan (2) and Galen Mills (2). Gavin Mills also had seven assists.

As a team, PHS hit just three of 13 shots from 3-point land and 17 of 34 attempts from 2-point range.

“Pinedale shot the ball extremely well,” Hildebrand added. “Their main guys and their role players all hit shots at key moments. It was a tough game. We did a good job of taking care of the ball and had 12 turnovers to their 19.

We just couldn't get the shots to fall when we needed them.”

Pinedale was led by 6-8 standout Wilson Rogers, who finished with 24 points.

Against Jackson, the Panthers' shooting woes continued in a 44-41, overtime loss. The Panthers hit only 15 of 67 shots from the field, including just two of 24 from behind the 3-point arc and 13 of 43 from 2-point range.

“Once again, we really struggled shooting the ball,” Hildebrand said. “Jackson started out in a man-to-man defense, but after two trips down the floor, they got out of that and really packed it in down low. That left our perimeter guys open for 3-point shots, but we couldn't connect. We didn't hit our first 3-pointer until the fourth period.”

Even with its shooting woes, PHS trailed by a mere 20-18 margin at halftime. Jackson extended that lead to 34-25 during the third period as the Panthers hit just one of 15 shots during that eight-minute stretch.

However, a solid defensive effort by PHS held the Broncs to only one basket in the fourth period, and the Panthers were able to tie the game at 36 on a 2-pointer by Galen Mills with 40 seconds to play in regulation.

“After the basket by Galen, we had a chance to win it after a steal by Brandon Sullivan,” Hildebrand said. “We held the ball for the last shot, but we weren't able to convert and get a basket in heavy traffic at the end of the period.”

The Broncs then outscored the Panthers 8-5 in overtime to claim the victory.

Brandt led PHS with 15 points, and Galen Mills and McArthur added 11 and 10 points, respectively. The scoring for PHS was rounded out by Sullivan with three points and Brown with two. Brandt also had a season-high 14 rebounds, and McArthur contributed with 13 boards. Brown led the team in assists with seven. He also had four rebounds and four steals. As a team, the Panthers committed only seven turnovers.

“We did a good job of taking care of the ball, and did a good job on the boards. We had 42 rebounds, including 15 on offense. Both of those were season highs for us. But we just couldn't connect on our shots. But even with us not making shots, we were in the game and had a chance to win it there at the end.”

• Up next: PHS will face third-ranked Buffalo Friday in a 5:30 p.m road game. On Saturday, the Panthers will be at home and will host second-ranked, Class 2A Thermopolis. Tipoff for Saturday's game is set for 7:30 p.m.