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PHS girls race out of gate to beat Lovell

A red-hot start carried the Powell High School girls basketball team to a comfortable win over Lovell.

The hosting Lady Panthers (5-1 overall, 1-1 in Class 3A West conference play) beat the Class 2A Lady Bulldogs 53-41 on Thursday.

“It was the best we’ve played this season and no better time to do that than the last game before the break,” said PHS head coach Scott McKenzie.

The first three minutes and 40 seconds of the game were not only the best stretch the Lady Panthers have had this season, but you’d be hard pressed to find a better start in PHS history.

A trio of 3-pointers from Alyssa Hildebrand on three consecutive possessions, a basket from Shawnae Harrington and a 3-point play from Jennie Ebersberger put the squad up 14-zip with 4:20 remaining in the first quarter.

“Talk about coming out of the gates, huh?” said McKenzie. “It was so nice for us to do that, to see that we can do that.”

He said he was proud of the girls for the way they kept looking for Hildebrand in the opening minutes.

Lovell (2-3) held their own the rest of the way, but never really got back into the game. Powell’s lead never got above 20 points, while it never dropped below 11 points, either.

PHS led 18-6 at the end of the first quarter, 31-12 at the half and 39-22 at the end of the third. The Lady Panthers had their biggest struggles in the third quarter, where they had nine of their 20 turnovers.

“We’ll continue to work on valuing the basketball and taking better care of it, but it’s also a credit to Lovell. They came out and got after us,” said McKenzie. PHS quashed any chance of a Lady Bulldog comeback with steady free throw shooting in the final period and getting the turnovers reigned back in.

Hildebrand, who shot 4-of-6 from the 3-point line, had 14 points and five assists, while Ebersberger, who went 8-for-10 from the free throw line, added 13 points.

“That’s great scoring there from our guards,” said McKenzie.

Megan Wagner scored seven points and nabbed 13 rebounds — the best performance the team has had this year on the boards. On top of that, Wagner added four assists and six steals.

“She had an all-around great game for us,” said McKenzie. He added that all the post players stepped up big with great defense.

Shawnae Harrington and Tori Sleep each contributed five points, Tess Mitchell, Alex Good, Brooke Lensegrav and KaDee Harrison each had two and Kadi Cooley added one.

The Lady Panthers won’t play again until Jan. 4 and 5, when they’ll head south to face Mountain View and Lyman.

McKenzie is pleased with where his squad stands (5-1) going into the Christmas break.

“It’s just a tribute to the girls working hard and everyone doing their jobs,” the coach said. “They really are a true team right now.”

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