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Lady Panther basketball boasts quick, deep roster

Despite losing four players — including three starters — to graduation, the head coach of the Powell High School girls basketball team doesn’t see the upcoming season as a “rebuilding” year.

“We lose four good seniors from last year, but we have a lot of girls coming back with varsity experience,” said PHS coach Scott McKenzie. “So we’re just hoping to continue to grow and get better.”

It’s a fast group with depth: seven seniors, six juniors, eight sophomores and 10 freshmen are out for the program this year.

“With the speed and quickness of this group, we’ll do some full-court pressure. This group can get out and run the (fast) break well,” said McKenzie. “We won’t have to slow the tempo as much this year.”

The team hopes to be solid in the post, returning all of its players from last year. That includes last year’s starters Shawnea Harrington, a senior, and Megan Wagner, a junior, plus seniors Tori Sleep, Alex Good and Alexis Brady.

The Lady Panthers lost some very good guards to seniority, “but we have girls that we hope can step in and try to fill those shoes,” McKenzie said. He specifically mentioned junior Jenni Ebersberger and senior Brooke Lensegrav, with seniors Jada Swires and KaDee Harrison looking to help as well.

McKenzie also expects to see a lot of the younger girls battling older players for floor time.

“I think that competition is good to have,” the coach said.

He hopes to use the games between Friday’s season-opener and the Christmas break to find roles for each girl on the team. With so many seniors out for the squad, there will be some roster decisions to make.

“You just have to hope as coaches we can find a spot for each girl to fit in and be a productive member of the team,” McKenzie said. “Sometimes that’s doing a lot of behind-the-scenes things for our team.”

He added that the squad is not a team of “stars.”

“We just work hard and each given night it could be someone else’s turn to do great things for our team,” McKenzie said. “And you hope with seven seniors that you have great leadership.”

A coaches and media preseason poll ranked the Powell girls as the No. 4 team in Class 3A.

Douglas and defending champion Star Valley were ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, with Rawlins at No. 3 and Torrington at No. 5.

McKenzie wasn’t interested in talking about the preseason rankings. He said this weekend’s East-West Classic Tournament in Buffalo should be a good opportunity to “find out where we are.”

The Lady Panthers — who went 19-8 last year — get their season started at 3 p.m. against Newcastle. On Saturday, the Powell girls have an 8 a.m. matchup with Wheatland and 6 p.m. date with Rawlins — who McKenzie says “has got to be a favorite to win it all.”

The coach planned to announce his varsity roster later this week.

The other PHS girls in the mix for varsity and junior varsity slots include juniors Aimee Kawano, Makaila Moore, Rebecca Pratt and Bailey Sanders and sophomores Kinsey Ashby, Lexee Craig, Breanna Donarski, Morgan Ecklund, Brooklyn Good, Danna Hanks, Richelle Phister and Anissa Warner.

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