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‘A huge disappointment’

Cory Heny will not return, but boys have plenty of talent, says coach

The Powell boys’ basketball team will not receive a boost in 2014 from the return of senior point guard Cory Heny.

Heny’s wrist, which he injured during the Panthers’ run to a third state 3A football title, has not healed, according to head boys basketball coach Chase Kistler. Heny will not play this season, and will undergo surgery to place a pin in his wrist.

“His wrist wasn’t healing, he has to end his high school career without playing a game this season,” Kistler said. “It’s not easy for him, not easy for me. He had no control over it.

“It’s a huge disappointment,” he said. “The biggest disappointment is that he doesn’t get to play. He was with us for two or three practices. You could tell the difference in what he brought to the game and what he brought to the team. A huge difference.”

Kistler said he hopes Heny’s wrist is strong enough to allow him to play baseball this summer.

But the Panthers will move ahead without the senior, and Kistler said he still has a strong squad with a chance to compete and win every game. First, they have to undertake a long road trip this weekend.

The boys’ and girls’ junior varsity and varsity teams will depart at 7 a.m. Friday and head to Mountain View for four games. The JV games will be played simultaneously, followed by the girls’ game and then the boys’ contest.

The next day, they will head to Lyman for another four-game set.

The Panther boys, who were 5-3 at the break, have had three weeks off, and are “healthier, not battling nagging injuries,” Kistler said. The team rallied to win the championship game of the Big Horn Basin Tournament on Dec. 21, which was a strong way to wrap up 2013.

Kistler will continue to rely on juniors Kalei Smith (second in 3A with 20.8 points per game) and Carter Baxter (eighth in 3A West with 13 ppg) to lead the offense, with senior Hayden Cragoe providing his all-around skills and senior post Garrett Michael (fourth in 3A with 8.3 rebounds per game) adding his inside game.

Senior guard Blake Schwan, a solid outside shooter, adds to the offense, and junior guards Zach Heny and Matt Sweet also provide a spark. Forrest Christiansen, a 6-6 senior, continues to work to improve his post-up skills.

“We’re going to keep trying to develop those younger guys. They get better as the season goes along,” Kistler said. “Younger players start stepping up as the season goes along. We’re always looking forward to that.”

He said while Cory Heny will not return, he has plenty of options this season — and will need them to make a run at a state title.

“We’re still a very good team,” Kistler said. “We need the depth this year.”

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