McKenzie is no Scrooge, but he does hate to disrupt the groove of a Lady Panther team that just won the Big Horn Basin Basketball Classic and five straight games.
The PHS girls beat Class 2A Thermopolis 55-35 on Friday, came back to beat Class 3A Worland 43-39 on Saturday and then bested tournament host Lovell 49-36 that night.
The Lady Panthers steadily outpaced Thermopolis. The Lady Bobcats were still hanging around at halftime, 24-17, but PHS put them away in the second half.
Powell outscored Thermop 16-9 in the third quarter and 15-7 in the fourth.
Thermopolis reached double digits in the second quarter, when they had exactly 10 points.
“Our defense is really coming along,” said McKenzie. In the second half, the Lady Panthers worked on their zone press. It proved troublesome for Thermopolis “and it’s really starting to look pretty good for us,” McKenzie said.
Junior Jenni Ebersberger had 16 points and a season-best seven steals. Senior Shawnea Harrington scored 12 points while senior Brooke Lensegrav took four shots and scored eight points.
Junior Megan Wagner scored five points, senior Tori Sleep and sophomore Danna Hanks each had four, sophomore Breanna Donarski had three and senior Alex Good had two points.
Before the game, McKenzie had challenged his post players — Harrington, Wagner, Good and Sleep — to collect at least five rebounds a piece and “all four answered that goal, which was really neat,” he said. Wagner and Sleep had six boards while Harrington and Good had five; Ebersberger chipped in six of her own for good measure.
For a while, it looked as though the Lady Panthers’ bid for the Big Horn Basin’s championship would end Saturday afternoon against Worland.
Powell trailed 9-8 after one quarter, 22-18 at the half and 34-26 after three quarters of play. On top of that, Ebersberger had to sit out a significant chunk of the game after picking up her fourth foul in the second quarter.
“My fault,” said McKenzie, saying he’d mistaken the third foul for a second one.
The team “really rallied with Jenni out,” he said, adding, “Our guards really stepped up big time.”
That included work from Lensegrav, senior Jada Swires, senior KaDee Harrison and Donarski, who “just steadily ran the show for us,” McKenzie said.
With 1:43 remaining, Swires canned a 3-pointer to finally put PHS on top by one.
“Big time shot,” said McKenzie.
She followed it up with a steal and layup to make it a three-point game. Ebersberger sank a couple of free throws to help seal the deal.
“It was nice for us to have that battle the whole game and find the way to win it in the end. We’ll be able to take that with us a long ways this year,” McKenzie said.
Harrington exploded for 15 points in the second half — including 10 in the fourth quarter.
“Just went into ‘beast mode’ and cleaned up boards, put-back some, turnaround jumpers, all things that we know she’s capable of doing every night,” McKenzie said.
Harrington led the team with 18 points and 10 rebounds. That included going 7-of -10 from the floor.
Swires had eight points, Ebersberger added seven, Donarski six and Lensegrav had four.
Wagner added eight rebounds, Swires five steals. The Lady Panthers also sank 10-of-13 free throw attempts.
The Powell High School girls needed less drama to beat tournament host Lovell, the top-ranked team in Class 2A.
The Lady Panthers made a 12-0 run — punctuated by 3-pointers from Donarski and Harrington — to turn a 4-4 tie into a 16-4 lead at the end of the first quarter. Lovell briefly cut it to 16-8, but that would be as close as the Lady Bulldogs would get.
Powell was up 27-12 at the half and 38-22 at the end of three quarters before winning 49-36.
McKenzie said Harrington, Wagner, Good and Sleep “really stepped up defensively,” in shutting down Lovell’s “outstanding posts.” McKenzie also credited Lensegrav, Harrison, Swires and Donarski for shutting out Lovell’s Lauren Hinckley, who he said had been scoring at will.
Ebersberger had 14 points and seven assists. Donarski joined her in double figures with 10 points, while Lensegrav followed with nine points (including going 6-for-8 from the free throw line).
Harrington had seven points, six assists and six rebounds. Wagner had five points and six rebounds. Good added two points.
Harrington and Ebersberger were among 10 players named to the Big Horn Basin Basketball Classic’s all-tournament team.
“It was nice for them to get some recognition,” McKenzie said. “And I’m sure they’d be the first to admit they wouldn’t get that without the team and the support.”
The Lady Panthers’ next games are set for Jan. 10-11, when they’ll head to Mountain View and Lyman.
Continuing a tradition, McKenzie invited any Lady Panthers alums who will be in the area on Jan. 1 to join the squad for a 6 p.m. practice and scrimmage.