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PHS girls have strong weekend, go 1-1 on road

Powell High School sophomore Kalina Smith looks for a shot against a Buffalo defender during the Panthers’ 46-23 victory Friday at Buffalo. Powell High School sophomore Kalina Smith looks for a shot against a Buffalo defender during the Panthers’ 46-23 victory Friday at Buffalo. Photo courtesy Alex Shoemaker, Buffalo Bulletin

The Powell High School girls basketball team delivered a pummeling to a Class 3A opponent on Friday, then gave one of Class 4A’s top squads a serious scare on Saturday.

Buffalo had been a perfect 3-0 going into Friday’s contest, but the Lady Panthers (3-2) beat them 46-23.

“Just a nice win, to come and beat a team that had beaten three teams from the west the week before was good,” said PHS head coach Scott McKenzie.

The Powell girls followed that with a trip up the road to Sheridan and a 40-30 loss.

“You know, when you lose by 10, you don’t ever know if you can call that a win, but against powerhouse Sheridan, we’re pleased with our effort,” McKenzie said. “We wanted the win, but we can take some great positives from this loss.”

Playing in Buffalo on Friday night, the Lady Bison (4-1) got a hot start.

“They came out and shot the ball really well on us,” McKenzie said.

Buffalo sunk five field goals and took an 11-8 advantage in the opening quarter, but they’d manage only four more buckets the rest of the way against the Lady Panther defense.

The Powell girls, meanwhile, outpaced Buffalo 14-3 in the second period to take a 22-14 lead to the half.

“Great spurt in the second quarter,” said McKenzie, adding, “They came out of the locker room and had another big spurt on them.”

PHS built the lead to 15 by the end of the third quarter (38-23), then shut out Buffalo in the fourth.

“We ran a lot of time in that fourth quarter and we got everyone in,” McKenzie said.

Senior Jenni Ebersberger led the team with 13 points. Sophomore Dani Asay followed with 12 points, along with a team-best seven rebounds.

“She had a great night for us,” McKenzie said of Asay. “She’s doing exactly the things that we’re asking of her and we hope that keeps going for her.”

Junior Brianna Donarski had six points, senior Megan Wagner had five points (matching that with five rebounds), junior Danna Hanks and sophomore Kalina Smith each had four points and junior Richelle Phister had two.

Hanks had five assists.

Powell made 15 of 36 shots from the floor (41.2 percent) and 15 of 25 from the free throw line (60 percent).

Sheridan (4-1) entered the weekend ranked as the No. 1 team in the state’s top class, 4A.

McKenzie told his team, “‘You go represent,’” he said.

“And they did,” the coach said.

PHS trailed 13-5 at the end of the first quarter and 22-11 at the half.

“Early on, with their physicalness and their defensive intensity, we struggled to score, obviously,” said McKenzie. “We made some adjustments at half.”

Powell pulled to within 30-20 at the end of the third quarter and managed to cut Sheridan’s lead down to five in the final period.

Smith hit two 3-pointers in the quarter but “Sheridan just answered them,” McKenzie said. “We just couldn’t quite get it.”

The Lady Broncs hung on for the win.

“They (Sheridan) were frustrated: we made a lot of their shots difficult shots; we cleaned up the boards; we didn’t let them get a lot of easy put-backs,” said McKenzie.

He noted that Sheridan had beaten 4A opponents Riverton, Kelly Walsh and Evanston each by more than 30 points.

“I told the girls after the game, ‘You just held Sheridan to 40 points. I think you could make it really tough on a lot of teams the rest of the season,’” McKenzie said.

Smith led PHS with 11 points, including going three of five from beyond the 3-point arc.

“We’re glad to see her get the lid off the rim,” the coach said. “We know that she can shoot like that every night, so hopefully she’ll take that into the next part of the season.”

Donarski scored seven points and Hanks six; the two juniors also pulled down eight rebounds apiece to lead PHS in the category.

“Our guards were in there mixing it up,” McKenzie said.

Ebersberger contributed four points while Wagner added two points and five rebounds.

The Lady Panthers shot 11 of 30 from the floor (36.7 percent) while going just five of 14 from the free throw line (35.7 percent).

“Free throws let us down,” said McKenzie, adding, “We have got to continue to get tougher there.”

The coach said that in general, he’s very happy with where the program — from the varsity on down through the junior varsity and freshman squads — sits heading into the Christmas break.

The Lady Panthers will resume play at the Big Horn Basin Classic in Thermopolis on Jan. 9-10.

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