“I thought the girls showed up prepared; I thought they worked hard; I thought we lost to two good basketball teams,” Danforth said. The Lady Panthers ended their season 13-14 overall, and improved over the course of the season, Danforth said.
At the state tournament in Casper last week, the eastern side of the class dominated, winning six games against western opponents and losing only one.
The Class 3A East teams swept the top places at the tournament: Wheatland beat Rawlins 49-44 for the state championship, Torrington took third place and Douglas won the consolation title.
In their opening game against Rawlins on Wednesday afternoon, the Lady Panthers hung with the Lady Outlaws throughout the first quarter. Senior Kendra Ostrom sank a basket shortly before the buzzer to bring PHS within one, 12-11.
Only late in the second quarter did Rawlins begin creating separation.
In the final 1:30, the Lady Outlaws scored six points to turn an 18-15 contest into a more commanding 24-15 half-time lead.
A basket from junior Amy Danforth, followed by a steal and 3-point play from fellow junior Becky Dent, briefly cut the Rawlins lead to five, 26-21, with about three minutes gone in the third quarter. However, Rawlins’ Madison Forney (20 points, 10 rebounds) immediately answered with a basket. A minute and a half later, Lady Outlaw Kalli Fedderson drained a 3-pointer, then came up with a steal and two free throws to quickly make it 33-21.
“Just had a hard time keeping up with those two gals (Forney and Fedderson),” Coach Danforth said.
Powell was unable to get the lead back to single digits the rest of the way. Rawlins scored the last 12 points to set the final margin.
Rawlins racked up 21 offensive rebounds in the game — tying Powell’s defensive rebounding on that end — and 49 overall. Powell had eight offensive rebounds and 29 boards overall.
The Lady Panthers also struggled from the perimeter, making just one of 16 tries. The squad did shine at the free throw line, making all eight of their attempts.
Ostrom went six-for-six from the free throw line in leading the team with 13 points.
Danforth, Harrington and Dent all had four points each while Hildebrand and Mitchell each added two points. Dent had a team-best six rebounds.
On Thursday morning, Powell jumped out to an early 13-6 lead against Douglas, but the Lady Bearcats responded with a 7-0 run late in the first quarter and early second period to knot things up.
Powell took a 19-17 lead to the half.
Riding six quick points and two steals from Kassidy Scott, Douglas quickly took a 25-19 lead in the opening minutes of the third.
Not to be outdone, the Lady Panthers responded with a 3-pointer from Ostrom, a 3-pointer from Hildebrand and a 3-point play from Dent to take a 28-26 lead.
As the third period wound down, another basket from Scott (20 points, 10 rebounds) re-established a 32-30 Douglas lead, but it would prove short-lived. Harrington sunk a 3-pointer with just a few seconds on the clock to put PHS up 33-32 entering the final period.
The teams traded baskets in the opening two minutes of the fourth quarter, with Douglas going up 38-37.
That’s how the score would stay until the roughly two minute mark.
At that point, Scott knocked down two free throws. After a PHS miss, it was Douglas’ Kelsey Steele’s turn at the line. She hit both for a 42-37 lead with just 48 seconds remaining.
Amy Danforth sank a basket with 25 ticks left to bring PHS within one shot at 42-39, but Scott hit two more free throws to ice it.
“They made their free throws, and we just couldn’t get over the hump in the end,” said Danforth. “But the girls fought valiantly like they have all season.”
Douglas made 14 free throws to Powell’s five and out-rebounded the Lady Panthers 35-22.
Amy Danforth had a team-best 12 points. Ostrom, in her last game as a Lady Panther, again hit double figures by scoring 10 points. Ostrom was one of Class 3A West’s top scorers this season and tops on the team.
“She (Ostrom) was a nice shooter that we’re certainly going to miss. Nice shooter and nice kid,” Coach Danforth said, wishing Ostrom well in her future endeavors and predicting she’ll do well if she continues her play at the collegiate level.
Also scoring for PHS were Dent and Harrington (five points each), Hildebrand (three points) and Mitchell and sophomore Alex Good (two points each).
Coach Danforth said he was proud of all the girls’ efforts this season and excited that 10 letter-winners are scheduled to return next year.
“It was a fun season,” he said. “The girls are great kids and they’re fun to be around, and we’re excited to see them again next year.”