“It’s the best I’ve seen them play all season,” head coach Chase Kistler said of his squad. “In terms of taking care of the ball and defense. Defense was just, it wasn’t great, but it was just steady for four quarters.”
The Panthers (4-4) jumped out to a 18-9 lead after the first quarter and held Douglas scoreless in the second quarter for a halftime score of 22-9.
In the third quarter, Powell came out and increased its lead to 38-19 before winning 56-31.
“We just stayed calm, cool and disciplined throughout the four quarters,” Kistler said.
Defense was one aspect of the game in which the Panthers needed some work.
“Tonight we just played better defense, moved our feet. We were straight up on shot blocks,” Kistler said. “A lot of huge improvement.”
In the second half, the Panthers picked up only five fouls, while the Bearcats had more than 10.
The team ended the game with only 15 turnovers and six steals.
Jace Smith led the team with 24 points, including two 3-point baskets. Kaelan Groves followed with 15 points, three shots behind the arc.
“Jace [Smith] played well tonight,” Kistler said. “He played disciplined, he took good shots and it paid off for him in the end.”
The coach described the offense as balanced and under control, which in turn increases the chances of having a good shot.
Because of the balanced, under control offensive play, the Panthers shot 43 percent from outside the field, 40 percent from the arc (making six 3-pointers) and shot 63 percent from the charity stripe.
Carson Heinen led on the boards with nine, six on defense and three on offense. Luke Washington and Groves each had five.
On offense, the team had 16 assists, led by Heinen with four and Groves with three. Heinen and Aaron Jacobsen each had two blocked shots.
The team’s other improvement was responding to the pressure applied from Douglas’ full court press.
“Did a lot better of keeping our eyes up and seeing that next pass and making the pass,” Kistler said. “We made good passes, too — that we weren’t kicking it off our feet or throwing it over anyone’s head.
Next up, the Panthers will host the first conference games of the season against Riverton on Friday at 7:30 p.m. and on Saturday versus Lander at 4:30 p.m.
“Two good teams. Both teams play fast. Riverton’s got some depth, Lander’s got depth,” Kistler said. “We’re going to have to have a good week of practice.”