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Lady Panthers head to state

The Lady Panthers face a familiar foe in their opening match-up at the Class 3A state basketball tournament in Casper.

At 10:30 a.m. today (Thursday), the Powell High School girls (12-13 overall) will meet up with their counterparts from Buffalo High (18-8). PHS will look to avenge a 43-32 loss to the Lady Bison earlier this year.

“I think it’s a good trial for us,” said PHS head coach Luke Danforth.

Buffalo brings two of the conference’s top scorers to the floor in Dallas Shaw (16.7 points per game) and Leah Groteluschen (13.5 points). Danforth said PHS will need to keep tabs on those players, but “they (Buffalo) also bring a pretty balanced attack.”

The Lady Bison have been the conference’s second-best shooting team, sinking 40 percent of their field goal attempts.

For the Lady Panthers, senior Leslie Thronburg has led the squad in scoring (11.1 points per game) and is second in the conference in averaging four assists a game. Other statistical leaders for PHS have been senior Olivia Rogers (9.2 points, 7.2 rebounds), junior Kendra Ostrom (7.9 points per game) and sophomore Alyssa Hildebrand (7.1 points). Senior Randi Asay has averaged 5.8 rebounds and three points a game.

Danforth said Powell will need its entire squad to play well against Buffalo.

“Our most successful games have been when we’ve played together as a team and everybody’s found a way to contribute,” Danforth said.

Statistically, Buffalo also had the conference’s fourth-best defense, allowing 40.3 points per game. Danforth said Powell will need to take care of the ball and deal with the Lady Bison pressure.

“We can’t have a lot of empty possessions,” the coach said.

The Powell girls have finished as runners-up at the state tourney the past two years.

In recent state tournaments, it’s been almost a foregone conclusion that a team from the west would end up on top.

Not so this year.

In the final Wyopreps.com Coaches and Media poll of the season, five of the seven Class 3A teams receiving top-five votes were from the east.

The east sends regional winner Wheatland (21-6), runner-up Buffalo, third place Douglas (25-3) and fourth place Torrington (17-11).

From the west come Mountain View (24-2), Cody (21-6), Powell and Worland (14-13).

In an earlier tussle with Buffalo on Dec. 18, PHS hung with the Lady Bison in the first half, but were out-paced in the third quarter. The Lady Panthers played that contest without Thronburg and sophomore Becky Dent was sick/injured.

“We’re a little bit of an improved team, we’d like to think,” said Danforth.

Brackets for the state tournament are available at www.whsaa.org.

The Tribune plans to attend the tourney and post updates on its blog, accessible through a link on the www.powelltribune.com homepage.


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