“It was a tough season and the kids knew it, but they fought all the way to the end,” Wisniewski said.
The decision of a few players to leave the team forced the JV squad to rely a little more heavily on freshmen than originally planned.
The team was led by sophomore Carter Baxter, who averaged a team-high 11.5 points per game.
Baxter led the team in scoring despite being limited to only two quarters a game. Baxter played a significant role on Powell’s varsity team and could not play in more than a total of six quarters per day.
“Carter was sort of our team leader even though he only played two quarters,” Wisniewski said.
Wisniewski said Baxter was a player the rest of the team could look up to, and when he was on the floor, the team knew it had the advantage.
“He’s just one of those kids that I expected to dominate at the JV level,” Wisniewski said.
Baxter scored in double figures in 15 of the Panthers’ 21 games, including a team-high 22 points against Lander.
Sophomore Zach Heny, also an important varsity role player, was just behind Baxter at 9.9 points per game.
Junior Blake Schwan was third in scoring with 7.6 points per game and led the team with 36 made threes.
“Blake is a good spot up shooter,” Wisniewski said.
Sophomore Matt Sweet averaged 5.9 points per game and scored 20 in a 62-56 loss to Lyman.
“Matt Sweet was our all-around hustle guy. He came up with big stops and played good defense,” Wisniewski said.
Four freshmen contributed to the JV team’s season. Cody Akin, Jake Gallagher, Jeron Smith and Kristian Stenlund all stepped up to fill the voids left by departing sophomores and juniors.
The younger guys came in with a limited understanding of the offense, but Wisniewski said he is proud of the way his players responded to the adversity.
That adversity could end up paying dividends next season, when the team’s freshmen return as experienced sophomores.
“Those guys are going to know the system, they’re going to know the way I coach,” Wisniewski said.
Wisniewski said he expects next year’s team to be similar to this year’s in terms of style of play.
“I’m looking at a team next year that’s going to play a lot of hard nose defense, and (create) a lot of pressure,” he said.
Wisniewski said the style and tempo of his teams are dictated by his player personnel.
He said this year’s freshmen will create a strong defensive core for the 2013-2014 season.
Akin and Smith provided defense and hustle points off the bench, Wisniewski said.
While Gallagher played too hesitant during his first couple games at the JV level, Wisniewski said he quickly figured out his role and became a productive player.
“He was our leader when Carter wasn’t on the court,” Wisniewski said of Gallagher.
Stenlund played in only the season’s final two games, “but the two games he played he stepped up pretty big,” Wisniewski said.
Junior Forrest Christensen possesses one of the team’s most imposing bodies and has the potential to develop into a strong role player, Wisniewski said.
Christensen moved to Powell from Idaho before the season and had to adjust to a new system.
“He has some things to work on this offseason but he can be a good player,” Wisniewski said.
The JV team may have had a bumpy season but Wisniewski said it’s less about wins and losses and more about player development.
“I want to have a winning record. I want the kids to be successful, but it’s more about getting them ready and prepared for the next level,” Wisniewski said. “That can be challenging but in the long run I just really try to focus on getting them ready for the next stage of their career.”