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Round one goes to Cody Broncs

Panther boys suffer first conference loss in 3A West

Through three quarters, Powell High School head boys’ basketball coach Mike Heny was happy with his team’s position. The Panthers weathered an early storm to grab a one-point lead late in the third quarter, only to watch Cody reel off 10 straight on the way to a 66-53 victory over the Panthers.

“We kind of ran into a buzzsaw,” Heny said after fifth-ranked Powell suffered its first loss in six 3A West conference games on Friday night. “It seemed they couldn’t miss, especially in the fourth quarter when they scored 25 points on us.The bucket must have looked as big as a hula hoop for them.”

It must have looked like a bulls-eye for much of the first half to Cody senior Matt Fales. Fales scored the Broncs’ first 10 points of the game and dropped in 21 of his game-high 27 points in the first half to help Cody to a 33-28 halftime lead.

“It was one of those nights for the kid,” Heny said. “He was averaging in double figures coming into the game, so we knew he could score. He got a fortunate bounce on his first three, then banked in another and he just got on a roll. We didn’t do as good a job contesting him as we should have at times, but it was just his night to shine.”

Despite Fales’ fireworks, the Panthers remained close. After falling behind by eight points in the second quarter, Powell pulled back within three thanks to a Marshall McArthur 3-pointer and a pair of free throws. In the third period, the Panthers managed to force a sequence of Cody turnovers and grabbed the lead on Josh Cragoe’s jumper with 1:35 to go in the third.

“The kids battled,” Heny said. “We’ve been down in games before and we’re not going to give up. We just kept hanging around, and that’s what you have to do on the road. I thought we’d be right there in the fourth quarter after we hit that shot to take the lead.”

Instead, the Broncs broke free for a 10-0 run spanning the last 90 seconds of the third quarter and the opening minutes of the fourth quarter. The Panthers were able to chop the gap back to five points before another Cody surge sent the gap into double figures. The Panthers got no closer than seven the rest of the night.

“They just made tough shot after tough shot in the fourth quarter,” Heny said of his team’s cross-county rival. “It was one of those nights when everything went well for them in the fourth quarter. We played pretty good, but they played better and that’s pretty much what it came down to.”

Chase Partridge finished with 17 points to lead the way for the Panthers. McArthur added 11 points in support. Fales finished with 27 for Cody to lead all scorers in the contest. After his remarkable first half, the Panthers were able to hold him scoreless in the second half until the final 2:12 of the fourth quarter.

The Panthers return to action Friday night with a home game against Worland. The team travels to Lovell for a non-conference game on Saturday night.

“Worland will be another tough game,” Heny said. “They went down to Lander and beat Lander this weekend. They’re starting to get healthy for the first time all year, so we will have to be ready to defend our home court.”

In a schedule change, the Panther boys will appear in the first varsity game on Friday night, tipping off at 5:45 p.m.

“It’ll be a little different playing that early game,” Heny said. “We’ll just focus on getting better and learn from what we didn’t do against Cody and see if we can’t get back on the winning end of things.”

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