Lady Panthers denied

Posted 3/17/09

“You've got to give credit to Jackson,” said PHS head coach Luke Danforth. “They just had a better day than we did.”

The loss ended an exceptional 23-3 season from the Powell girls and put them in second place out of the …

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Lady Panthers denied


PHS runners up at 3A state Tournament {gallery}03_17_09/gbball{/gallery}Jackson's Brooke Rice strips the ball from Powell's Hannah Pollart (center) as Jessica Fischer (45) and Abbie Moulder (30) defend. Jackson won the state class 3A championship game, 43-29. Tribune photo by John Wetzel Entering the Class 3A girls state basketball tournament, most observers knew that one of the orange and black teams would emerge on top.Last Saturday night, it ended up being the Lady Broncs of Jackson, who defeated Powell's Lady Panthers 43-29 in the 3A championship game.

“You've got to give credit to Jackson,” said PHS head coach Luke Danforth. “They just had a better day than we did.”

The loss ended an exceptional 23-3 season from the Powell girls and put them in second place out of the 16 teams in Class 3A.

“I think the girls earned a lot of respect this year, and I couldn't be prouder of them,” Coach Danforth said.

The Jackson win actually squared up their record with Powell on the year — each team having won two of their four contests.

On Saturday, Jackson's stifling full-court defense proved too much for the Lady Panthers to handle.

“We didn't adjust to their pressure very well, and didn't get into an offensive rhythm,” said Danforth.

Powell started off with a 6-3 lead, but by the end of the first quarter, Jackson had taken an 11-10 advantage.

Neither team could get much going in the second quarter, with the squads combining for just nine points.

Powell had five of those to draw even, 15-15, at the half.

Despite the tie game, there were signs of trouble: Jackson had three times the number of attempts as the Lady Panthers, buoyed by 16 PHS turnovers.

Tough Powell defense and cold Jackson shooting, however, had kept the game close.

The Lady Broncs made just eight of 39 attempts in the first two quarters. PHS, meanwhile, made the most of their attempts, sinking seven of 13.

Jackson warmed up in the second half.

They went on a six-point run to open the second half, making it 21-15. The Lady Panthers responded, cutting it to 22-20 with 2:12 left in the third.

Jackson, however, responded with a three-pointer from Brooke Rice and opened the fourth quarter up 25-20.

After trading baskets, Savannah Donarski pulled Powell High School within two, completing a three-point play to make it 27-25 with 5:47 remaining.

But again, Jackson responded with a three-pointer, this time from Sydney Leichliter.

Rice followed with a pair of steals and a basket, putting Jackson up by seven with under four minutes left.

That forced Powell to begin fouling, and the Lady Broncs hit their free throws. They allowed the Lady Panthers to get no closer than 34-28 at the 2:17 mark.

Jackson made nine of 14 free throws from that point on to seal the deal and win their third consecutive state title.

Powell ended the game with 28 turnovers, which Jackson turned into 21 points.

Powell's Hannah Pollart led the team with 12 points and 10 rebounds.

Also scoring for the Lady Panthers were Donarski (5), Leslie Thronburg (4), Darcee Lynn (3), McKenzie Danforth and Olivia Rogers (2), and Kelsey Allen (1).

“They never gave up,” Coach Danforth said of his squad. “They played hard until the bitter end.”

It took a determined effort for the girls to make the championship contest with Jackson.

Powell vs. Buffalo

On Friday, the Lady Panthers survived a serious scare from the Buffalo Lady Bison.

After taking an early 10-6 lead at the end of the first quarter, the Lady Panthers went stone cold on offense.

Buffalo began breaking down the defense with some penetration in the paint.

When the half-time buzzer sounded, the Lady Bison had taken a 23-14 lead. Their momentum carried into the second half.

With just more than four minutes remaining in the third, it was Buffalo 31, Powell 17.

Things were looking grim until Katie Kipp made a hard-charging lay-up over the top of a Buffalo defender.

That keyed a long Powell run, ending the quarter on a basket by Kami Cooley to make it 35-29.

“We were definitely given a spurt by Katie Kipp,” said Coach Danforth.

Things still didn't look good in the fourth, when Buffalo led 39-29 with under five minutes to play.

The Lady Panthers continued chipping away, but at the 1:14 mark, Buffalo was still up six, it 44-38.

Donarski nailed a basket with 1:04 left, and on the ensuing Lady Bison possession, Allen drew a critical offensive foul.

That gave Powell the ball back, and after a foul, Donarski sunk two free throws to make 44-42.

Buffalo turned the ball over on the inbound pass, and Allen was fouled. She made one of two to make it 44-43 with 33 seconds left.

Buffalo again tried to inbound and threw the ball directly to Pollart underneath the basket, who sunk an easy lay-up to give Powell a 45-44 lead with 32 seconds on the clock.

Once more, Buffalo tried to inbound, and again turned it over — this time throwing it directly out of bounds.

After a Lady Panther timeout, McKenzie Danforth took a successful inbound, was fouled, and nailed the two free throws to finish scoring at 47-44.

“I thought that our pressure made the difference there at the end of the game,” said Coach Danforth.

The Lady Panthers went on a 9-0 run in the final 64 seconds, while three Lady Bison fouled out of the game.

Donarski led with 14 points, while Pollart followed with 12 and a team-best 19 rebounds.

Also scoring for the Lady Panthers were Allen (6), McKenzie Danforth and Kipp (5 each), Cooley (4), and Lynn (1).

Overall, “a great team effort,” said Coach Danforth.

Powell vs. Lander

Things were a little less hectic in the Lady Panthers' opening 52-37 win over Lander Valley.

The victory wasn't in doubt for long, with the Lady Panthers racing out to a 11-1 lead in the opening minutes of the game.

“I thought we pretty well took charge of the game right away,” said Coach Danforth.

Thanks to some good shooting and their typically staunch defense, the Lady Panthers were up 27-14 at the half.

A flurry of points from Lander's Ruth O'Neal brought the Lady Tigers within nine at 41-32 with 4:57 remaining, but they would draw no closer.

“We kind of took over and hit our free throws down the stretch,” said Coach Danforth.

The Lady Panthers made eight of 11 free throws in the fourth — including five of seven from McKenzie Danforth — to seal a 52-37 victory.

Powell contained Lander's perimeter shooting in the contest, not giving up a single three-pointer.

Pollart led Powell with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Donarski followed with 12.

Also scoring for PHS were McKenzie Danforth (7), Lynn (6), Allen (5), Cooley (4), Thronburg (3), and Rogers (1).

With the season now complete, Coach Danforth thanked his assistant coaches, Steve Bailey and Scott MacKenzie, for their hard work this season, and also the Lady Panthers' fans.

“The fan support we got this year was incredible,” he said.

Coach Danforth said the departure of seniors Lynn, Allen, and McKenzie Danforth will leave big shoes to fill — even if they didn't wrack up high point totals this season.

“Their leadership was in defensive effort and hard work,” he said.

While the championship loss to Jackson was a disappointing way to end the season, the coach said his squad “can hold their heads high.”