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February 03, 2009 3:45 am

PHS keeps on rolling

Written by Tribune Staff

Panthers top Worland, Rocky Mountain

Powell High School's boys basketball team extended its winning streak to six games last week with victories over third-ranked Worland and Rocky Mountain.

The biggest win of the two, a 58-53 decision against West Conference rival Worland last Friday, was sparked by the Panthers' quick start, which translated into a 13-7 lead at the end of the first period.

“Getting off to a good start was a big key for us,” said PHS head coach Troy Hildebrand. “Worland has had a lot of success by getting ahead early. They've been able to extend those early advantages to sizable leads in a lot of cases, and we wanted to counter that.”

Throughout the second period, the Panthers (8-5 overall, 4-3 West Conference) continued to keep the tempo to their liking and stretched their advantage to 30-21.

During the late stages of the third period, however, the Warriors showed why they are ranked among Class 3A's top teams by storming back from a 10-point deficit.

“With about three minutes to go in the third, Worland really increased the pressure on us,” Hildebrand said. “When they got on that run, we didn't do as well when it came to taking care of the basketball. Because of that, we went from being up by 10 to being down by two early in the fourth period.”

By the end of the third period, Worland had cut the Panthers' lead to 37-35. After Worland pushed ahead in the final quarter, PHS senior Jordan Brown came through with a timely 3-pointer that put the Panthers back on top, 44-43. At that point, PHS began to slowly pull away from the visiting Warriors using a steal and lay-up by Brown and a consistent showing at the free-throw line. In the fourth period alone, PHS connected on 12 of 14 shots from the foul line. For the game, the Panthers hit 13 of 15 free throws.

“It was a big win for us,” Hildebrand said. “For the most part, we controlled the tempo, and we were able to take them out of their style of play. We did pretty well when it came to being patient with the ball and taking advantage of their aggressive style of play.”

Leading the charge for PHS was Brown, who finished with a career-high 20 points. The senior was two of two from 3-point range and hit all four of his shots from two-point land. At the free-throw line, Brown connected on six of eight attempts. He also finished with three assists, five steals and three blocked shots.

The Panthers got double-digit scoring efforts from Galen Mills (11 points), Matt McArthur (11) and Ryan Brandt (10).

Brandon Sullivan, Gavin Mills and Matt Kifer contributed with two points each. Hildebrand pointed out the solid shot selections made by Galen Mills and McArthur. Those two combined to hit seven of 11 from the field. They joined forces to hit five of five free throws.

The rebounding effort was paced by Brandt, who finished with 13 boards.

“Ryan's ability to come up with so many rebounds on the defensive end really made a difference,” Hildebrand said. “That was a huge key to them only getting one shot during a lot of their trips down the floor.”

The Warriors, who were held to a zero-for-11 showing from 3-point range, were led by Chantz Ramos' 18-point effort.

Robert Heyer and Adam Heessel rounded out Worland's double-digit scoring efforts with 12 and 10 points, respectively.

On Saturday, the Panthers followed up their solid effort against Worland by dismantling Rocky Mountain 57-37. In a game PHS was favored to win, Hildebrand noted his squad's ability to take care of business one night after a hard-fought effort in a key conference game.

“We spent a ton of energy the night before, and I was really pleased with the way the guys came out and played against Rocky,” Hildebrand said. “Rocky has a scrappy team, and that was another good win for us to get.”

PHS opened with a 19-9, first-period lead and held a 32-19 advantage at the intermission. In the second half, the Panthers were able to increase their lead by outscoring Rocky Mountain 14-8 in the third period and 12-10 in the fourth.

Galen Mills, one of three Panthers to turn in a double-digit scoring effort, finished with 12 points, thanks to a six-of-seven shooting performance from the field. Brandt and McArthur added 10 points each. The remainder of the scoring load was shouldered by Brown (8), Gavin Mills (7), Kifer (5), David Starcevich (3) and Sullivan (2).

Brown added a season-high eight rebounds to go along with five assists. Gavin Mills contributed with seven rebounds, a career-high seven assists and two steals. Brandt and Sullivan chipped in with five and three steals, respectively, and Kifer added three assists.

As a team, the Panthers forced 25 turnovers while committing just 15 of their own. The Panthers also combined for 24 assists to only nine for Rocky Mountain.

• Up next: The Panthers have two games scheduled this week, and both contests will be played at PHS. The first will be a conference battle against Jackson Friday at 7:30 p.m. On Saturday, the Panthers will face West Conference foe Pinedale at 2:30 p.m.