“I still like basketball a lot,” said the 2011 PHS graduate. “It’s nice to come and see how the team’s doing.”
Bushnell, who played four years of hoops for Powell, is attending the University of Texas in Austin. He said the alumni game, which was played at a good pace before a few dozen fans at Panther Gym, was a chance for him to get in shape for the intramural season at UT.
His 2011 classmate, Tyler England, just happened to be working out in the gym when PHS boys head basketball Chase Kistler coach spotted him and recruited him for the game.
“I want to see if I can still run with the young guys,” England, 21, said while shooting around before the game.
He is now attending Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction, Colo., as is another PHS alum, Ole Olsen, who graduated in 2012. Olsen is playing football for the Mavericks and was in top condition.
“He was a stud,” said PHS JV coach Waleryan Wisniewski.
Another 21-year-old, Brian Morris, played basketball his freshman year at PHS but has maintained an interest in the game. Morris, a 2012 graduate, said he felt he was in pretty good shape but knew it would be a challenge to run with the high school squad.
“You can definitely tell the difference in being in the gym every day and us old guys,” he said.
Wisniewski “coached” the alumni team and also played, as did freshman coach Nate Cook, who nailed a pair of 3-pointers in the early going.
Wisniewski set a lineup and tried to offer some tips to the players, but 2014 graduate Garrett Michael, who started most games for the Panthers last season, reminded him he knew the drill.
“Only been gone a year, coach,” Michael said minutes before the game began.
Both teams substituted freely. Kistler said it was a chance for his team, which had held a practice before the game, to get some running and game action in while also having fun.
Andy Gillett, 30, a 2003 PHS graduate, said Kistler is a friend and talked him into playing.
“I have no game,” he said with a smile as he took a breather on the sideline.
But a few minutes later, Gillett hit the court, ready for another run. The 2014-15 Panthers won 119-101 — but the score is deceiving, Cook said, since the high school team held a 30-point lead at one point and, to make things interesting, the teams swapped scores.
Either way, the “old guys” did their best.