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Weekend wins put girls basketball in first

After picking up two decisive wins over the weekend, the Powell High School girls basketball team finds itself at the head of Class 3A West.

The Lady Panthers (10-4 overall, 6-1 in the conference) beat Pinedale 45-27 on Friday and then downed Lander 47-33 on Saturday.

“Good wins defending the home floor,” said PHS head coach Scott McKenzie, whose squad was playing its first home games in seven weeks.

“It was a good weekend where all 11 girls got in both games and got to contribute,” McKenzie said.

Pinedale (1-14 overall, 0-8 in Class 3A West) stuck around until midway through the second quarter.

It was 14-9 when Powell broke out for eight points in less than 30 seconds: sophomore Brianna Donarski canned a 3-pointer, followed by a Pinedale turnover and another 3-pointer from senior Brooke Lensegrav, followed by a steal by freshman Kalina Smith, who passed to senior KaDee Harrison for a layup. Three baskets from junior Jenni Ebersberger closed out the half and a 14-1 run that left the Lady Panthers up 28-10.

Pinedale made no inroads in the third quarter, falling further back to 42-19. The Lady Panthers tried some different combinations of players and some zone defense in the fourth quarter.

Ebersberger led the team with 14 points. Lensegrav joined her in double digits with 10 — a “nice” performance McKenzie hopes will continue.

Donarski added six points, senior Tori Sleep and sophomore Anissa Warner each scored five, Harrison, junior Megan Wagner and Smith each added two points while senior Jada Swires chipped in one.

McKenzie praised Sleep’s “tremendous” play over the weekend, noting her team-best eight rebounds, plus four assists and four steals against Pinedale. He said Sleep, Wagner (five rebounds, four assists, three steals), Smith (five rebounds, three assists, three steals) and Warner did a good job stepping up after senior Shawnea Harrington suffered a knee injury in the second quarter.

“It was just nice for those posts to all make positive contributions for us against Pinedale,” McKenzie said.

Powell shot 15 of 43 (35 percent) from the floor and 11 of 26 (42 percent) from the free throw line.

Against Lander (4-11 overall, 2-5 in Class 3A West), “We didn’t get off to a great start,” said McKenzie.

The Lady Panthers led 11-10 after one quarter and 16-14 at the half. They didn’t help their cause by going just 4 for 11 from the free throw line.

The Lady Tigers came back in the third quarter to briefly take a 22-18 lead, then a 25-22 advantage. But Ebersberger sunk a basket and a 3-pointer to put Powell on top for good with about 2:20 remaining in the third quarter. Sleep added a pair of free throws, followed by two more from Ebersberger and it was 31-25 going into the fourth quarter. A pair of free throws from Smith in the final period capped a 14-0 run and made it 36-25 Powell. Lander never got closer than nine the rest of the way.

“We made some good adjustments at half and I thought the girls really executed those things well,” said McKenzie.

After the rough performance from the line in the first half, the Powell girls went 13 of 14 in the second half.

Ebersberger had 15 points, while Harrington shook off Friday night’s injury to notch 14 points and seven rebounds.

“She kind of got us going,” McKenzie said of Harrington’s performance. He noted both Ebersberger and Harrington had nine points in the second half.

Sleep added seven points and matched Harrington with seven rebounds. Smith followed with six points, followed by two apiece from Swires and Donarski and one from Lensegrav.

The Lady Panthers shot 13 of 50 (26 percent) from the floor.

Harrison had a team-best four steals — “which is just exactly what we count on her for, is that good defensive intensity,” said McKenzie.

Powell is now halfway through conference play, having faced the other seven teams in Class 3A West one time.

The girls’ 6-1 conference record puts them one game ahead of 5-2 Cody, Mountain View and Star Valley.

As the Lady Panthers gear up for “Round 2” in 3A West, McKenzie expects the team will have something of a target on its back.

They’ll hit the road this weekend for a 5:45 p.m. Friday matchup with Star Valley (7-7 overall, 5-2 in conference) and a 12:45 p.m. contest with Jackson (2-13, 2-5).

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