A nother trip to the state tournament saw the Powell Panther boys come home with their first trophy since 2019, finishing as consolation champions after losing to Buffalo 38-35 on Thursday, defeating …
Another trip to the state tournament saw the Powell Panther boys come home with their first trophy since 2019, finishing as consolation champions after losing to Buffalo 38-35 on Thursday, defeating Torrington 43-29 on Friday and defeating Lovell 65-56 on Saturday.
BUFFALO 38, POWELL 35
Kicking off the weekend the Panthers (19-9) matched up with the Buffalo Bison (15-11), a rematch of the third place game a year ago that the Panthers lost.
Much like that game, baskets were few and far between for both teams.
Powell failed to find the basket for nearly the entire first period, but with 1:30 remaining, a Gunnar Erickson 3-pointer made it a 6-3 contest.
Buffalo scored again, making it an 8-3 game after the first period.
In the second quarter the Panthers continued to struggle finding the basket, with Buffalo extending its lead out to 20-10 with just over three minutes left.
A late run capped off by 3-pointers from Erickson and Brock Johnson helped cut the lead down before the half, with Buffalo leading 22-18 at the break.
“In a game when the shots are not falling, you just have to stay locked in on defense to keep the score close and give yourself a chance,” coach Mike Heny said. “I just kept telling the kids to keep shooting and eventually I thought the shots would start to fall.”
After shooting 6-35 (17.1%) in the first half, the Panthers came out stronger in the second half.
Marshall Lewis scored the first six points for Powell but the Panthers continued to trail down 26-24.
Powell’s efforts continued to come up just short, trailing 31-27 heading into the fourth.
A 3-pointer by Johnson started the fourth to cut the lead to one, but a fourth foul sent Johnson to the bench early in the quarter.
The score sat at 33-30 for nearly four minutes, before a Cade Queen basket cut the lead down to 33-32.
“As a team, we were getting the shots we wanted and we were taking really good shots, they simply weren’t going in for us Thursday night,” Heny said. “When we were down one, we got about four straight stops and I thought if we could ever get the lead, we would finish them off. However, it just wasn’t our night and we were never able to get over the hump and score on a consistent basis.”
Powell had multiple opportunities to take the lead, but was unable to get the basket.
Buffalo extended the lead to 35-32, and the Panthers needed a basket.
The motion offense swung the ball from side to side until a wide open Jhett Schwahn scored his only basket of the game — a 3-pointer to tie the game at 35 with 16 seconds left.
Then on the defensive end the Panthers lost track of Keehan Rickett, who hit a 3-pointer in the corner to put Buffalo back ahead.
“With that much time left, we just wanted to move with purpose, let the ball see both sides of the floor, and find someone for a really good look. It just happened that Jhett was able to get a wide open 3 and he has been shooting it well the past couple of weeks,” Heny said. “Great clutch shot for him and I thought we had the momentum going into that final play. Unfortunately, we lost the Rickett kid and he was able to get a wide open look and made the shot to beat us.”
One last heave was passed to Erickson, whose 3-pointer was off at the buzzer as Buffalo escaped with a 38-35 victory.
Johnson and Erickson led the Panthers with nine and eight respectively in the contest as Powell shot 13-60 (21.6%) from the field in the loss.
POWELL 43, TORRINGTON 29
Heading down to the consolation bracket after the loss on Thursday the Panthers matched up with the Torrington Trailblazers (10-16).
“It’s always difficult to reset your focus when we lose a game you thought you should win at the state tournament. However, we still wanted to come out and play well and try to bring home a trophy, even if it wasn’t the one we had hoped for,” Heny said.
Poor shooting again struck early in the contest at Natrona County High School, as Powell trailed 5-2 midway through the first quarter.
Powell gained its first lead after a Queen layup with 1:30 left in the first, but the contest was tied at seven heading into the second quarter.
The two teams battled in the second, and a 3-pointer from Erickson late in the quarter gave Powell a 17-15 halftime lead.
Lewis again came out hot in the second half, hitting two threes early as Powell continued to hold a 23-21 lead midway through the third quarter.
Neither team found a lot more success in the third, with Powell holding a 25-24 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Powell quickly pushed the lead out to six early in the fourth, and finally pushed it out to double digits after a Trey Stenerson layup late in the contest to help Powell pull away down the stretch for a 43-29 victory.
“Our defense again kept us in the game until we finally broke the lid off of the basket towards the end of the third quarter against Torrington,” Heny said. “Trey, Jhett, and Cade did a really good job defending their bigs and our guards kept the pressure on their perimeter players throughout the contest. Torrington’s leading scorer only had four points and we didn’t allow anyone to get into double figures. Our offense finally got going and we were able to pull away from Torrington by outscoring them 18-5 in the final quarter.”
Erickson led the Panthers with 13 points and four steals, while Johnson finished with 12 as the other Panther to score in double figures.
POWELL 65, LOVELL 56
A familiar face greeted the Panthers in the consolation championship on Saturday, the Lovell Bulldogs (12-15) for the fourth time this season.
Unlike the previous two days, Powell came out strong from the field behind Lewis and Johnson to take a 12-9 lead midway through the first quarter.
“It is hard to beat a team four times but we just wanted to come out and play loose and have fun. We definitely didn’t want to let Lovell get us for the first time at the state tournament so the kids were really focused on coming out and ending the season with a win,” Heny said.
A 7-0 push late in the quarter gave Lovell a 16-14 lead and forced a timeout from Heny.
Out of the timeout the Panthers continued to trail, down 21-19 heading into the second quarter.
Powell came out strong in the second quarter, reclaiming the lead and holding a 27-23 advantage.
Lovell closed the gap, but Powell held a 34-32 lead heading into the break.
A quick run out of the half grew Powell’s lead out to 10, forcing a Lovell timeout.
“We executed really well in the second half on both ends,” Heny said. “Lovell shot over 50% from the field and only had four turnovers to our 10 in the first half, so our focus was to challenge their shooters more and flip the turnover numbers, which we were able to do.”
A strong start to the second half by Schwahn helped the Panthers extend their double digit lead, as Powell grew the lead out to as many as 16 in the quarter at 54-38.
In the fourth quarter, both teams struggled to find the basket, and the Panthers were able to hold off any comeback attempts at the free throw line as Powell walked away with a 65-56 victory for the consolation championship.
“It’s always nice to come home with a trophy from state. The kids had worked extremely hard throughout the season and it’s a great accomplishment for our program,” Heny said. “Even though we were disappointed that we fell short of our goals, finishing the season with two wins and the consolation championship is important in order to build a culture of winning.”
Three Panthers finished in double figures, including Erickson with 19 points, nine rebounds and five steals, Johnson with 18 points and 10 rebounds and Lewis with 11.
After another season in which the Panthers made it to the state tournament, the Panthers have their sights set high after only graduating Jace Hyde after this season.
“Jace did a tremendous job for us in his role this season, but bringing everyone back next year is a nice luxury to have,” Heny said. “We have a great group of kids and we will look to build off what we did this season. We have a good group of younger kids that will work hard in the off season as well and that will improve our depth for next year as well.”
BUFFALO 38, POWELL 35
Total rebounds then offensive rebounds in ()
Points — Brock Johnson 9, Gunnar Erickson 8, Marshall Lewis 6, Jace Hyde 5, Jhett Schwahn 3, Cade Queen 2, Alex Jordan 2
Rebounds — Gunnar Erickson 9 (2), Marshall Lewis 7 (1), Brock Johnson 7, Jhett Schwahn 6 (3), Jace Hyde 3 (2), Trey Stenerson 1, Cade Queen 1, Alex Jordan 1 (1)
Assists — Marshall Lewis 2, Brock Johnson 2, Trey Stenerson 2, Cade Queen 1, Gunnar Erickson 1, Alex Jordan 1
Steals — Gunnar Erickson 4, Brock Johnson 1, Jace Hyde 1, Jhett Schwahn 1, Cade Queen 1
Blocks — Brock Johnson 1, Cade Queen 1
POWELL 43, TORRINGTON 29
Points — Gunnar Erickson 13, Brock Johnson 12, Marshall Lewis 6, Alex Jordan 4, Jhett Schwahn 3, Alex Jordan 3, Trey Stenerson 2
Rebounds — Marshall Lewis 5, Brock Johnson 5, Jhett Schwahn 5 (3), Trey Stenerson 3 (2), Gunnar Erickson 3, Alex Jordan 3 (3), Cade Queen 2 (2), Jace Hyde 1
Assists — Brock Johnson 4, Trey Stenerson 2, Jhett Schwahn 1
Steals — Jhett Schwahn 4, Gunnar Erickson 4, Brock Johnson 2, Cade Queen 1
Blocks — Trey Stenerson 2
POWELL 65, LOVELL 56
Points — Gunnar Erickson 19, Brock Johnson 17, Marshall Lewis 11, Trey Stenerson 8, Jhett Schwahn 8, Alex Jordan 2
Rebounds — Brock Johnson 10 (3), Gunnar Erickson 9 (4), Jhett Schwahn 6 (2), Trey Stenerson 5 (4), Marshall Lewis 3, Cade Queen 3 (2), Alex Jordan 2 (2), Dawson Griffin 1, Keona Wisniewski 1
Assists — Brock Johnson 3, Jhett Schwahn 3, Gunnar Erickson 3, Trey Stenerson 1, Cade Queen 1
Steals — Gunnar Erickson 5, Marshall Lewis 2, Jhett Schwahn 1
Blocks — Trey Stenerson 1, Gunnar Erickson 1