Ending 2018 on a loss to a talented Wyoming Indian team, the Powell High School girls’ basketball team was hoping to start 2019 on a winning note.
Behind double-digit scoring performances from seniors Aubrie Stenerson and Rachel Bonander, the Lady Panthers did just that, welcoming in the New Year with a 42-20 home win over Rocky Mountain.
“We rebounded pretty well from when we headed into break,” said Lady Panthers head coach Scott McKenzie. “I was very happy with our performance.”
Powell (3-3) executed well offensively from the start, jumping out to an early 15-6 first quarter lead. Up 28-11 at the half, the Lady Panthers’ defense held the Lady Grizz (4-6) to just nine points the rest of the way to secure the 42-20 win.
Stenerson paced the Lady Panthers with 16 points, to go along with seven rebounds, two assists and three steals. Bonander followed with 12 points on top of five rebounds, two steals and two blocked shots.
“We got out there and just did our thing; Aubrie [Stenerson] and Rachel [Bonander] both got going this time,” McKenzie said. “They combined for 28 points, and Aubrie got to the free throw line 10 times and made eight of them, which is fantastic.”
Jasmyne Lensegrav netted five points, while Michele Wagner, Brea Terry and Devon Curtis rounded out the scoring for Powell with three points apiece.
“I’m very proud of our bench, very proud of Brea [Terry], Devon [Curtis], Jasmyne [Lensegrav] and Michele [Wagner]. They roll in there and combined for 14 points,” coach McKenzie noted. “They did a great job defensively as well — we didn’t miss a beat when we subbed. That’s our ultimate goal as we work toward tournament time, is everyone learning their role and doing their thing. It just went really well for us.”
Though neither scored a point, seniors Karlie and Katie McKenzie contributed greatly to the cause. Karlie McKenzie led the team in steals with five, and finished with five assists and one block. Katie led the team in assists with six.
“Karlie [McKenzie] did a good job of running things for us,” coach McKenzie said. “Katie [McKenzie] didn’t score for us either, but she comes up with six assists. I thought they both did a nice job of really feeding Rachel [Bonander] and Aubrie [Stenerson] in that game. They really had that clicking.”
The Lady Panthers committed 31 turnovers against Wyoming Indian last month, a stat that factored heavily into that game’s outcome. It was a different story against the Lady Grizz, as Powell lost the handle less than a dozen times — much to the relief of their head coach.
“We went from 31 to 11 turnovers, and we just really played unselfish basketball,” coach McKenzie said. “And we put some points on the board. This group should be 40-plus every game, so it was nice to get there.”
Asked what he’d like the team to improve on before this weekend’s Big Horn Classic, coach McKenzie said he’d like to see a bit more accuracy from behind the arc.
“I’d like to see us start hitting some threes,” he said. “I think we were 2-for-15 against Rocky Mountain. We’re better than that, I think. We just need to encourage Karlie, Katie and Ashtyn [Heny] to keep shooting them. They’re going to fall at some point. When that part clicks with everything else that’s starting to, that’s going to make us tough to beat.”
The Lady Panthers will square off against Class 2A Shoshoni in the opening round of the Big Horn Classic Friday afternoon at Panther Gym, followed by a game against Class 2A Thermopolis Friday evening. McKenzie said playing both teams will be a new experience for Powell.
“In 30 years of coaching here, I don’t think we’ve ever played Shoshoni,” coach McKenzie said. Praising the work of Coach Max Mills, he noted that Shoshoni also beat Rocky Mountain before the Christmas break.
“They’ve had some good success, so it will be good for us to play someone completely brand new,” coach McKenzie said. “With Thermopolis, we always drive through their town to play other places, so we’re looking forward to playing them as well. We’re looking forward to playing some new faces.”