“We didn’t always take advantage of the opportunities we had, but every time they tried to make a run we didn’t back down, we didn’t panic and we found a way to answer,” said Panther coach Mike Heny.
The Panthers had their chances to win at the end of regulation, but a Cooper Wise floater in the lane rolled off the rim with seconds remaining. Powell had one more chance to win after Lander’s attempt at a half-court outlet pass off the miss sailed high, giving the ball back to the Panthers near midfield with 0.8 seconds left on the clock.
The Panthers’ desperation heave hit high off the backboard, prompting an extra four minutes of play.
Powell jumped out to an early lead in the extra stanza, forcing misses on Lander’s first two possessions and converting points at the offensive end on both occasions. The visiting TIgers worked the ball inside to climb back into the contest and took a one-point lead late to set the stage for Bushnell’s free throws.
The Panthers had a chance to pad their lead in the final 10 seconds after Marshall McArthur stepped in front of a Lander inbound pass for the team’s 17th steal of the night. The sophomore missed on a pair of foul shots that could have added to the Panthers’ one-point lead.
The misses gave Lander a final chance to steal the win or force another overtime period after the Panthers were whistled for a foul defending against the Tigers’ final shot. Similar to the Panthers moments earlier, however, the Tigers misfired on a pair of free throw attempts and Powell was able to secure the rebound and run out the clock.
It was a fitting ending for a game that never saw the teams divided by more than five points on the scoreboard after halftime.
Bushnell finished with 16 points. Chase Partridge added a team-high 17 points and 12 rebounds for the Panthers, but was relegated to observer for the game’s dramatic ending after picking up his fifth foul in the overtime period.
Against Rocky Mountain, Powell fell behind early, but roared to life after the half. The team connected on 10 of its 20 shot attempts in the third quarter to blow past the visiting Grizzlies on the way to a double-digit win.
Partridge again led the way with 16 points and nine boards. Two other Panthers joined him in double figures as Jake Beuster tossed down 14 points and McArthur added 11.
Powell forced 14 steals while accounting for just 11 turnovers in the game.
The Panthers, now 6-5 on the season, look to continue their undefeated march through 3A West play this Friday when the squad travels to Cody for a meeting between Park County rivals.
“That’s our only game this week,” Heny said. “They’ll be tough. They defend well and they’re athletic. We’ll have to spend this week working hard and try to be ready for it.”
Tip-off for the boys’ varsity contest is slated for 7:30 p.m. in Cody.
Powell 58, Rocky Mtn. 45
McArthur 11, Wise 9, Bushnell 6, Partridge 16, Cragoe 2, Beuster 14.
Rebounding: Partridge 9. Assists: McArthur and Wise, 4 each. Steals: Wise 6. Blocked Shots: Partridge 2.
Powell 51, Lander 50
McArthur 7, Wise 4, Bushnell 16, Partridge 17, Cragoe 5, Beuster 2.
Rebounding: Partridge 12. Assists: Wise, Cragoe and Beuster, 3 each. Steals: Wise 5. Blocked Shots: Partridge 3.