The Panthers were routed by a taller Worland team, 50-23 on Friday, then edged by Douglas 58-53 on Saturday after losing out on some key rebounds.
Powell closed out the season’s opening non-conference schedule one game below .500.
“We’re 4-5, but we’re learning from our losses,” said PHS head coach Scott McKenzie. “We want to be as good as we can be by the end of February.”
Powell’s starting lineup shrunk by about 4 inches for the weekend games, as junior Dani Asay was injured at practice; McKenzie said it takes time to figure out how to play without “part of the family,” but “it will help us in the long run when we get her back.”
Worland 50, Powell 23
Losing Asay forced the PHS squad to employ an unfamiliar zone defense against Worland, Class 3A’s tallest team, in Friday’s road game. It also made for a decidedly different contest than when the teams met the previous week, where Worland (8-0) stole a 44-43 win at the buzzer.
The zone defense was effective early: Powell held the Warriors to just four first quarter points and took a 5-4 lead.
Worland, however, found more success in the second quarter and went up 17-11.
“It worked for quite a while,” McKenzie said of the zone, praising his team’s execution. “But a good team eventually is going to start hitting their shots and they (Worland) did.”
Powell initially cut the deficit 22-17 in the third quarter, but Worland closed out the game on a 28-6 run, knocking down a half-dozen 3-pointers.
“They hit some big shots and I thought it kind of stunned us,” McKenzie said. “And I thought we tried too hard.”
Powell had 22 turnovers in the game —18 from unforced errors, he said.
Under Worland’s pressure, Powell shot 9-of-35 (26 percent) from the field. They also shot 5-of-13 (38 percent) from the free throw line.
Senior Richelle Phister and junior Jennifer Bonander each had six points. Seniors Breanna Donarski and Danna Hanks each had four points, while sophomore Mariah Phister had two and sophomore Maddy Hanks one.
Danna Hanks led the team with 14 rebounds.
Douglas 58, Powell 53
Powell and Douglas (8-2) were never more than a half-dozen points apart in Saturday’s game in the Panther Gym.
The Bearcats grabbed an early 10-4 advantage, but the Panthers evened the score at 14 by the end of the first quarter.
A 3-pointer from Donarski late in the second quarter put Powell up 23-22 at halftime.
The Bearcats came out hot in the third quarter and jumped up by five. The Panthers responded with a 12-1 run to go up 39-33, but Douglas retook a 40-39 lead early in the fourth quarter.
The Panthers pushed back ahead by three, but Douglas responded to seize a 54-49 advantage with a minute remaining.
PHS trimmed Douglas’ advantage to two, 55-53, with about 26 seconds left. The Powell girls put the Bearcats at the free throw line and got the two misses and rebound they wanted — but Donarski was forced out of bounds as she drove up-court.
“I thought she was going to get a foul and they called her out of bounds — and those are parts of the game,” McKenzie said.
PHS fouled again with about 15 seconds remaining and the Bearcats again missed their two free throws, but Douglas’ Bailey Brooks got the offensive rebound. PHS fouled again, the Bearcats missed again, but Brooks again got the rebound.
She hit her first free throw to put Douglas up 56-53 with about 10 seconds left. She missed the second, but Powell couldn’t corral the ball before it went out of bounds.
Douglas then hit a couple free throws to ice things.
“We had our chance to win several times there at the end,” McKenzie said. “We fouled the right girl; they missed; we could not box them out.”
Donarski led the team with 17 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the floor. Danna Hanks registered her fourth double-double by scoring 13 points and collecting 12 rebounds to go with five steals.
Jennifer Bonander scored a season-high eight points.
“I think she’s starting to come along for us and gaining more confidence and realizing that she can battle inside and score some points for us,” McKenzie said.
Sophomore Maddy Hanks had five points, Richelle Phister and 6 foot, 2 inch freshman Rachel Bonander each had four points while Mariah Phister added two.
“Without her (Asay), we become pretty darn small. That’s why we brought up Rachel,” McKenzie said.
Powell shot 22-of-54 (41 percent) from the floor and 5-of-8 (63 percent) from the free throw line. Douglas, meanwhile, took 33 trips to the line.
McKenzie praised the way his squad passed the ball in the second half.
Junior Tayli Stenerson dished out eight assists while filling Asay’s starting role and “did a good job there,” the coach said, also complimenting Richelle Phister’s six assists.
Powell will head to Lovell on Friday for a 5:45 p.m. match-up with the Bulldogs (6-2), then host Lander (7-5) at 2 p.m. Saturday. Those games kick off Class 3A West Conference play.
“All this up to now has been dress rehearsal,” McKenzie said.