Marshall McArthur’s last-second shot lifted the Powell Panthers to a 53-51 victory over Jackson and saved head coach Mike Heny some significant second-guessing.
“We called a time out to set up the final play, because that’s not really a situation we’ve practiced yet,” Heny said of the tie game facing the Panthers in the waning seconds. “Right as we called it Coop (Powell guard Cooper Wise) got free for an uncontested layup.”
With the official’s whistle bringing an end to Wise’s uncontested look at the bucket, the Panthers looked to get a repeat opportunity.
“Truth be told, we really didn’t do a very good job of executing what we drew up,” Heny said. “Marshall kept his head though and knew where the clock was at and got the ball up and gave it a chance to go in.”
McArthur’s late-game heroics completed a comeback that saw Powell climb back into the game from as many as nine points down in the first half. The Panthers actually had a chance to put the game away without last-second drama following a foul-double technical situation late in the game.
“We had a chance late with that sequence where we had four free throws and the ball and could have pretty much put the game away,” Heny said. “Instead, we only hit one of the four free throws and then turned the ball over just seconds after inbounding it.”
The miscue enabled Jackson to go down the floor to hit a 3-point bucket to knot the score and set the stage for the late-game drama.
“We just kept hanging around and hanging around, and then when we finally got the lead, you could see our confidence grow,” said Heny. “You could tell Jackson got a little frustrated when we just kept it close.”
The win was even more special given the disarray of the Panthers’ lineup . The team played the contest still without returning starter Chase Partridge in uniform. Josh Cragoe, injured in the Panthers’ first game of the season, also sat out the contest. In their absence, the Panthers turned at times to a lineup featuring four sophomores to help keep them in the game.
“That was a big part of the game,” said Heny. “We had three players on the bench with three fouls in the third quarter and the sophomores went out there and not only kept us close, but I think they were able to bite into Jackson’s lead by a couple of points.”
The win over Jackson wrapped up a weekend sweep for the Panthers. Powell defeated Pinedale 49-29 one night earlier to record a rare road trip sweep.
“It has been a while since we’ve come back from a road trip with two wins,” said Heny. “It has especially been long since we’ve come back with two wins from this particular trip.”
After a low-scoring first quarter that saw Powell lead by just a 6-4 margin. After those early-minute struggles, the Panthers’ offense roared to life. Powell scored 34 points over the middle two periods to comfortably pull away with the win.
“It was the first long road trip for a lot of these guys, and I think it took us a while to get our focus,” said Heny. “In some ways though, that first quarter was a valuable wake-up call for us for the next day in Jackson.”
With the wins, the Panthers are now 2-3 for the season, but, more importantly, are 2-0 in 3A West play.
“You can’t over-estimate the value of two road wins, even at this stage,” said Heny, noting his team achieved the feat while short two starters. “This was a very positive weekend for our program.”
Things do not get any easier for Powell this week. The Panthers play the top-ranked teams in both Class 2A and 3A. Powell hosts Lovell on Thursday. The team travels to Buffalo on Saturday for its final game of 2010.
Powell 49, Pinedale 29
McArthur 18, Wise 12, Bushnell 9, England 4, Lynn 2, Curtis 1, Beuster 3.
Rebounds: Beuster 12. Assists: Bushnell 4. Steals: Bushnell 4. Blocks: McAurthur 2.
Powell 53, Jackson 51
McAurthur 6, Wise 13, Bushnell 15, England 3, Lynn 1, Curtis 2, Beuster 13.
Rebounds: Beuster and England 8. Assists: Wise 5. Steals: Bushnell 3.