The Powell High School girls went down 4-0 early but responded with a 12-0 run for a lead they would never relinquish. The girls led 21-13 at halftime. Newcastle cut it to a three-point game late in the third quarter, 26-23, but the Lady Panther responded to make it 30-23 going into the final period. Newcastle never got any closer.
Senior Shawnea Harrington, junior Jenni Ebersberger, senior Brooke Lensegrav, freshman Kalina Smith and sophomore Breanna Donarski went a combined 11 of 12 from the free throw line to keep Newcastle down.
Up by 14 with about a minute and a half remaining, Powell's five seniors -- KaDee Harrison, Tori Sleep, Jada Swires, Harrington and Lensegrav -- shared the court for one final time before subbing out.
The Lady Panthers end their season with a 19-9 record.
The Panthers boys will look to match the girls' third-place finish in a 1:30 p.m. game against Star Valley at Casper College.
In Friday night's semifinal game, the Powell Panther boys' basketball mounted a furious second-half comeback but fell just short, losing 49-47 to the Glenrock Herders.
Powell trailed 33-20 at halftime and 44-34 after the third quarter before outscoring Glenrock 13-5 in the final frame. The Panthers briefly took a 47-46 lead with 1:11 to play when junior Kalei Smith hit two free throws to cap a 14-3 Panther run.
On the other end PHS junior Zach Heny was called for a defensive foul which gave Glenrock two free throws and a 48-47 lead.
The Panthers called a timeout with 17.4 seconds remaining and were playing for the last shot, but Smith lost control of his dribble and turned it over, forcing Powell to foul Glenrock.
The Herders missed the front end of the one-and-one, giving Powell another chance.
Smith came down with the rebound and charged upcourt. He jump-stopped to split two Herder defenders and tried to float in the go-ahead runner from 5 feet out. The ball hit off the back of the rim and Powell was out of time.
Glenrock hit another free throw with 1.7 seconds left and Powell's heave at the buzzer was no good.
Smith led the Panthers with 18 points and eight rebounds while junior Carter Baxter added 10 points and seven boards. Senior Hayden Cragoe scored six points on 3-for-5 shooting and came down with five rebounds.
Glenrock's Jordan Millay was held to 17 points but had a game-high 12 rebounds.
The girls, meanwhile, also came up one game short of the Class 3A championship on Friday with a 37-26 loss to Douglas.
The Lady Panthers never really got going on offense (shooting just 20 percent from the field) while the Lady Bearcats grabbed 43 rebounds to Powell's 24, according to stats from Cybersports on Friday's game. PHS played to a 4-4 tie in the first quarter, but was outscored by Douglas by three points in the second quarter, five in the third and three in the fourth.
Below is a crash course in Powell's Friday foes.
BOYS vs. Glenrock
The Powell boys will face a Glenrock team tonight that had little trouble with Lander in the quarterfinals on Thursday.
This could be worrisome for Powell considering Lander beat the Panthers by 13- and 16-point margins this season.
Here are a few things to keep in mind before consuming tonight’s game.
The Herders finished 14-11 overall and just 6-8 in the Eastern Conference, but went 3-1 in the East Regional Tournament to earn the No. 3 seed going into state.
Glenrock, the only team from the East to make it out of the first round, averaged 55.6 points per game and allowed an average of 49.4 ppg.
Glenrock’s top scorers are Jordan Millay (14.8 points per game) and Tyler Olsen (11.6 ppg). Millay, who stands tall at 6-5 or 6-6, also averaged seven rebounds a contest, good for fourth in the East and sixth overall in Class 3A, and two blocks per game, which is second in 3A.
It will be interesting to see how Powell’s Kalei Smith (35 points against Wheatland) attacks the basket with Millay’s defensive presence lurking in the lane.
Hayden Cragoe is the most likely candidate to defend Millay (Carter Baxter may also take a turn). Considering how well Powell’s starting five played Thursday night, keeping Cragoe out of foul trouble will be crucial — and a challenge — against a player like Millay.
But slashing players like Smith, Zach Heny and Baxter can present the same challenge to whoever is protecting the rim for the opposition.
Tipoff is at 9 p.m. in the Thunderbird Gym at Casper College.
GIRLS vs. Douglas
The PHS girls’ basketball team will try to do this afternoon what the Panther boys did last night — knock off the top team in the Eastern Conference.
The Lady Panthers are the West’s last remaining hope and will take on a No. 1 Douglas team that finished 22-3 overall and 11-3 in the East.
The Lady Bearcats found success through balance. Douglas has the fifth-best offense (49 points per game) and fourth-best defense (38.9 points allowed) in Class 3A.
While Douglas doesn’t have one elite scorer, it does have two girls who are a threat to go into double figures on any given night. Ashlie Blackburn’s 12.5 ppg is only sixth-best in the East, but would rank No. 1 in the West. Right behind her is Jessie Underberg, whose 12.1 ppg is seventh in the East and eighth in Class 3A.
Powell’s Jenni Ebersberger is the West’s second-leading scorer at 11.6 ppg.
Blackburn is tied for fourth in Class 3A with 8.6 rebounds a contest while Caitlin Boe (3.1 assists) and Underberg (2.7) rank second and third, respectively, in setting up their teammates.
Kelsey Steele leads the Lady Bearcats in steals (of course), with 3.6 a game, good for third in the East and fourth overall.
The Lady Panthers will have their work cut out for them and will need strong team-defense (Powell’s is ranked No. 1 with 35.3 points allowed per game) to slow down Douglas’ two-pronged attack.
Powell will also have to find its own secondary scorer to take the pressure off Ebersberger if the Panthers want to pull out what would be their second straight upset of the tournament.
A 10+ point performance from one (or two) of Shawnea Harrington (6.2 ppg), Breanna Donarski (5.5 ppg and 38 percent from 3-point range) or Kalina Smith will go a long way toward extending the Lady Panthers’ season.
Powell High School's girls basketball team began the Class 3A State Tournament with a bang Thursday morning, beating Torrington 48-42, while the boys closed out the day with some noise of their own by upsetting Wheatland 69-62.
The Panther boys trailed by eight in the second quarter, but cut Wheatland's lead to 34-30 by halftime and took a 46-43 lead out of the third quarter. In the final period, PHS sunk 5 of their 7 attempts from the floor and 10 of 15 attempts from the free throw line to hold off the Bulldogs, who struggled to make their free throws (going 5 of 11 from the line).
Wheatland came into the Casper Events Center as Class 3A East's No. 1 seed and was the top-ranked school in the class by coaches and media polled by WyoPreps.com. Powell came in as the No. 4 seed from Class 3A West but earned the upset with strong play from their starting lineup, which scored all 69 points: Kalei Smith (35 points, 13 rebounds), Carter Baxter (14 points, 12 rebounds), Hayden Cragoe (13 points, 8 rebounds), Zach Heny (four points) and Cory Heny (three points). The quintet played most of the game, including the entire second half.
The Panthers advanced to the semifinals to face East No. 3 seed Glenrock.
Meanwhile, playing the early game, the Lady Panthers led by a point after the first quarter (11-10) and at halftime (25-24) before grabbing a three-point lead in the third quarter (34-31). The girls made 12 of 16 free throws in the final period to pull away from and hold off Torrington.
PHS' girls entered the tournament as Class 3A West's No. 2 seed and Torrington as the East's No. 3 squad. However, Powell's victory could be considered an upset because Torrington had been 3A's top-ranked team in the WyoPreps.com poll. Torrington has been dealing with off-the-court tragedy; the team learned during last week's regional tournament that a March 7 car crash had claimed the life of one of their program's alums, 19-year-old Kaylie Haun. Her two sisters play for the Lady Trailblazers.
The Powell girls will face East No. 1 seed Douglas.
The Wyoming High School Activities Association has tournament brackets, stats, info and pay-per-view video online. KPOW is also providing live radio coverage on 1260 AM and online.
(Editor's note: This version corrects the Lady Panthers' record on the season.)