The Worland Warriors jumped out to a quick lead Tuesday night against the Powell High School girls’ basketball team and never looked back, as the battle of 3A Northwest rivals went to Worland …
The Worland Warriors jumped out to a quick lead Tuesday night against the Powell High School girls’ basketball team and never looked back, as the battle of 3A Northwest rivals went to Worland 40-36.
With the season winding down and every conference game important, PHS head coach Scott McKenzie said this game was one the Lady Panthers needed to control their postseason destiny. But a valiant comeback late wasn’t enough for Powell to make up a 17-point deficit, as the Warriors held on for the win.
“I was proud of how the girls played at the end of the third and in the fourth,” coach McKenzie said. “They really battled back, but they just dug a hole to start with, then buried themselves to start the third. That’s just not like us.”
Turnovers for Powell were a factor early, as the Lady Panthers (11-5, 2-1) turned the ball over six times in the game’s opening quarter, hitting on just one of 10 shots in that frame. The miscues led to a 12-3 start for the Warriors (3-13, 1-2). Powell battled back in the second quarter, however, hitting on five of nine shots to cut the lead to 19-14 at the break. The return of Rachel Bonander provided a boost for the Lady Panthers as they clawed their way back into the game.
“Rachel [Bonander] did give us that spark, she had a good game,” coach McKenzie said. “But their [Worland’s] size and speed was just amazing. Their guards were just way faster than us tonight.”
Things fell apart for Powell in the third quarter, as the Warriors went on a 12-0 run to start the second half to push their lead to 31-14. Lady Panther Karlie McKenzie finally broke the run with a 3-pointer for Powell’s first points of the second half to make it 31-17. Aubrie Stenerson followed with a 3-point play, cutting Worland’s lead to 11. The Warriors’ Kate Wassum answered with a 3-pointer of her own and Worland held a 34-22 lead after three quarters.
The fourth quarter, however, was all Powell. After a two-week layoff, Bonander showed she was happy to be back, scoring six straight points to start the final period and cutting the lead to 34-28. Just like that, Powell was knocking on the door.
Aided by a pair of free throws by Stenerson, Powell pulled to within 37-34, with just over two minutes to play.
Down 38-34 with 1:01 on the clock, Bonander pulled down a rebound of a Stenerson misfire and put it back in for the score, cutting Worland’s lead to two 38-36. With 38 seconds left and the Warriors with the basketball in their own end, Brea Terry came up with a steal for the Lady Panthers, giving Powell a chance to tie the game. But after Bonander got the ball inside, the senior was called for traveling as she battled for a shot. The ball went back to Worland with 10 seconds on the clock, ending Powell’s best shot at a comeback. The Warriors’ Tymberlynn Crippen sank a pair of free throws with four ticks on the clock to seal the win.
“The traveling call was a good call,” coach McKenzie said. “I credit Rachel [Bonander] for trying to make something happen.”
Despite limited court time, Bonander paced the Lady Panthers with 14 points — 10 coming in the fourth quarter. Stenerson followed with nine points, while Karlie McKenzie hit a pair of 3-pointers to finish with six points. Devon Curtis chipped in three, and Terry and Jasmyne Lensegrav rounded out the scoring with two points apiece.
Wassum led the Warriors with 12 points.
The Lady Panthers are on the road Friday at Lander, a team Powell squandered an 18-point lead to earlier this season in a 45-41 loss. Coach McKenzie said the team will work on pre-game prep this week, coming out ready to go, mentally and physically.
“We need to not wait for them to strike first, we need to strike first,” he said. “That will be our goal this week.”