Wins over Newcastle, Rawlins, Buffalo and Lovell have the Lady Panther junior varsity basketball team heading into the Christmas break with a 4-0 record.
Powell High School JV coach Troy Hildebrand said the “beginning of the year is always a big learning curve at the JV level as players adapt to new roles.”
Hildebrand added that, “So far, everyone (has) really stepped up and taken on any challenge that we have asked of them which has helped us get off to this 4-0 start.”
The Wyoming High School Activities Association rules allow athletes to play no more than six quarters per opponent.
“We use some girls all four quarters while others split their six possible quarters each night between the varsity and JV teams,” said Hildebrand.
Powell played the first three games at the East/West Classic tournament in Cody Dec. 9 and 10, starting with Newcastle.
Powell 68, Newcastle 32
“The girls really did a great job of getting their season off on the right foot in this one,” said Hildebrand of the win.
Powell led 21-11 at the end of the first quarter, then Newcastle trimmed the lead to 27-22 at the half.
“However, the third quarter in this one was the best basketball we have played in our first four games as we outscored them 26-2,” said Hildebrand.
The Lady Panthers took advantage of a number of fastbreak opportunities, did an excellent job of running the floor and shared the ball for easy layups, the coach said.
In the third quarter alone, Rachel Bonander had eight points, while Aubrie Stenerson and Ashtyn Heny each had seven.
“This was a really good first game for us as it allowed everyone to get a lot of game time and I believe everyone gained some confidence,” Hildebrand said.
Eleven of the 12 players who suited up scored points.
Bonander and Stenerson each had 15 points in their two quarters. Katie McKenzie had nine points and Heny scored seven. Alli Sommerville, Jasmyne Lensegrav, Addie Howard and Shayla Shoopman each scored four. Scoring two points each were Jordan Walsh, Karlie McKenzie and Sierra Sanders.
Powell 35, Rawlins 28
Against Rawlins, Powell took a 24-11 halftime lead, but in the second half, Rawlins outscored Powell 17-11 to tighten things up.
“Rawlins was a very scrappy team and they really battled with us until the final buzzer,” said Hildebrand, adding, “We were able to hold Rawlins in single digits each quarter and that allowed us to keep the lead even when we had some struggles of our own on offense.” Bonander was again high scorer with 10 points.
“Sierra Sanders had a very nice game in the low post with six points and solid play on both ends,” said Hildebrand.
Walsh had five points; Katie McKenzie and Lensegrav each had four. Howard scored three points while Heny had two.
AnaMia Davila’s one point was a key free throw in the team’s victory.
“It was good to face a quality team like Rawlins that put more pressure on us with their defense,” Hildebrand said. “Our guards really had to step up and handle that pressure for us to scratch out the win.”
The Panthers closed out the Cody tourney with a narrow win over Buffalo.
“This was a great game between two very evenly matched teams,” said Hildebrand.
Powell led 12-10 at the end of first quarter, trailed 28-26 at halftime, then fought back to lead 39-37 at the end of the third.
In the fourth quarter, Buffalo scored three points to take a one-point to lead with a minute left.
Lensgrav was fouled on an inbounds play.
“She showed great poise in stepping to the free throw line and sinking both shots to get us back on top,” said Hildebrand.
With eight seconds left, Karlie McKenzie was fouled and made one of two; Buffalo then missed a final 3-point try to give Powell the 42-40 win.
Stenerson led with eight points, with Bonander just behind with seven. Heny and Karlie McKenzie each scored six points.
Shayla Shoopman also scored six key points and “had a breakout performance on the boards,” said Hildebrand.
Lensgrav added four points, Katie McKenzie three and Sanders two.
“We were able to execute our offense pretty well against a quality defensive team,” Hildebrand said, praising the work of Karlie McKenzie, Heny, Sommerville and Walsh at the point.
Powell 43, Lovell 29
The Lady Panthers capped off 2016 by beating Lovell on Dec. 13.
“Once again I was very pleased with our overall team defense,” said Hildebrand.
Lovell’s quarter scores were 7-9-6-7 while Powell’s were 15-2-13-13.
After a tough second quarter, “The girls really responded in the third period and were able to create some separation for us,” said Hildebrand.
“We showed great balance on the offensive end,” he added, noting that 11 of the 12 players again put points on the board.
Hildebrand said Lensegrav provided “a real spark in the second half on both ends of the floor, as she came up with numerous steals, rebounds and scored five of her seven points.”
Katie McKenzie scored eight points — including two early 3-point shots that got the team off to a good start. Stenerson also scored eight points in one of her two quarters of play.
Walsh, meanwhile, hit her first 3-pointer of the season and had a total of five points.
Bonander had four points, while Shoopman, Sanders, Heny, Howard and DaVila each had two. Karlie McKenzie scored one.
Hildebrand said Howard had her best all-around game of the season.
“AnaMia (Davila) continues to show improved confidence each game and her hustle on defense caused some problems for Lovell,” the coach said. “She is doing a nice job in a somewhat new role this season so far.”
The JV basketball will play again after the break at the Big Horn Basin Shootout on Jan. 6 and 7.