Lady Panthers runners-up at regionals

Posted 3/9/10

This week — at the state tournament in Casper — is where it really counts. The Powell girls know that firsthand. Last year, PHS beat Jackson in the regional title game only to come up short in the state championship.

After a slow 2-6 …

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Lady Panthers runners-up at regionals


{gallery}03_09_10/phsgirls{/gallery} Powell's Hannah Pollart surveys the Jackson defense during 3A West championship basketball action on Saturday. The Panthers fell 42-36 but still advance to this week's state tournament, where they will face Wheatland. Courtesy photo/Colter Bostick No. 2 seed from west pits Powell vs. WheatlandThe Powell High School girls basketball team is heading to the state tournament as Class 3A West's No. 2 seed.After beating Pinedale 47-35 on Thursday and Cody 66-50 on Friday, the Lady Panthers' bid for the regional title came up just short against Jackson (17-8) on Saturday night, falling 42-36.“Give Jackson their due,” said PHS head coach Luke Danforth. “We're thankful to have another week of the season left.”

This week — at the state tournament in Casper — is where it really counts. The Powell girls know that firsthand. Last year, PHS beat Jackson in the regional title game only to come up short in the state championship.

After a slow 2-6 start to the season, Jackson has lost only once in their last 14 games.

The Lady Panthers (20-4 overall) are slated to open their 3A state tournament on Thursday. They're scheduled to play Wheatland, the East's No. 3 seed, at 10:30 a.m. in the Casper Events Center.

The regional championship game against Jackson began slowly on offense, with the teams playing to a 6-6 draw at the end of the first quarter.

The Lady Broncs warmed up in the second period. It began with a 3-pointer from Ellie Rice for a lead her squad would not lose. It was the first of 12 Jackson points in the quarter, while Powell, struggling offensively and on the boards, managed just three free throws.

“I think the frustration with our shooting began to affect the rest of our offense,” said Danforth.

Jackson entered the half up 18-9. Powell began to find some offense in the third quarter, but not enough — at the end of the period, Jackson had increased its lead by two, to 30-19.

It got no better for the Lady Panthers in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter, as Jackson expanded its advantage to 35-19. But PHS then began whittling into the Lady Bronc lead. Just before the three-minute mark, Kami Cooley hit a 3-pointer to slice the Jackson lead to single digits, 35-27.

With less than a minute to play, Powell still trailed by seven, 37-30. Aided by Jackson turnovers and fouls, the Lady Panthers used free throws from Hannah Pollart, Katie Kipp, and Savannah Donarski to make it 39-34.

Then, after a Jackson free throw miss on the other end, Leslie Thronburg banked in a very deep two that brought the Lady Panthers within three points with about 40 seconds remaining. Danforth said that looking at the film, it appeared Thronburg's right foot may have been on the line “by a toenail,” making it 39-36.

However, that would be PHS' last bucket, and Jackson made its free throws to put the game out of reach.

Danforth praised his squad's resiliency.

“They never give up,” he said. “They always play to the bitter end, and that's the sign of a good team.”

Pollart led PHS with 14 points, followed by nine from Thronburg, seven from Donarski, three from Cooley, two from Olivia Rogers and one from Kipp.

The loss to Jackson followed an offense-driven, 66-50 win over regional rival Cody, the No. 4 seed who later earned a berth of its own to the state tourney. The Fillies hung with the Lady Panthers well into the third quarter. PHS had taken a 36-29 lead to the half. Cody responded in the third by cutting the lead to one, at 39-38, but could not get over the hump.

The Lady Panthers began breaking away in the closing minutes of the third quarter, starting with a four-point play from Cooley, to double the PHS lead to 50-42.

The play marked the beginning of a 16-4 run into the fourth quarter that would seal the game.

Danforth said the Lady Panthers hope to play like they did against Cody this weekend in Casper.

Donarski scored a game-high 22 points. Pollart added a double-double, with 16 points and 13 rebounds. Kipp scored 11 points, followed by seven points from Cooley and Thronburg, two from Rogers, and one from Shellie Williams.

The No. 1-seeded Lady Panthers opened the tournament with a 47-35 win over No. 8-seeded Pinedale that was never really threatened. From the second quarter on, Powell kept a lead that never dipped below seven points. PHS led 25-18 at the half.

Things became interesting with about four minutes left in the game when Pinedale cut a once 12-point PHS lead to a 40-33 advantage.

However, Powell held the Lady Wranglers to a lone field goal the rest of the way while making free throws to ice the contest.