Talented Panther team opens season in Lovell

Coming off improbable runner-up campaign

Posted 12/12/19

On the eve of a new basketball season, Powell High School boys’ head coach Chase Kistler says he’s excited about his squad.

The young, confident Panther team — coming off a …

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Talented Panther team opens season in Lovell

Coming off improbable runner-up campaign

Posted

On the eve of a new basketball season, Powell High School boys’ head coach Chase Kistler says he’s excited about his squad.

The young, confident Panther team — coming off a runner-up performance at the Class 3A State Tournament last season — opens its 2019-20 campaign on Friday and Saturday with a trio of games in Lovell.

“We have a very talented bunch that can shoot the ball on any given night. So I think all the pieces are there to have a very successful season,” Kistler said. “It’s just a matter of putting it all together.”

A year ago, the PHS boys compiled an unremarkable 8-11 record in the regular season, then came together to make a spirited sprint to the 3A title game. Kistler believes that success came from improving every week and from playing unselfishly. Those factors — along with speed and strong defense — will all be key to success this year, he said, but the biggest initial challenge could be avoiding overconfidence.

“We’re a good team, but there’s a lot of teams that are returning their same teams — such as Worland and Lander,” which will be looking to defend its title, Kistler said. “And you know, we get to kind of stack up to see how much we’ve improved in one year.”

In the last two weeks of practice, the coach said he’s seen “great” intrasquad competition, with sophomores through seniors battling for spots and minutes; Kistler said that should help the team become more competitive and “game-ready.”

While young, the Panthers do have a pair of seniors — Jesse Brown and Aidan Jacobsen — set to play critical roles this year.

Brown “was our motor last year, and he’s our motor again this year,” Kistler said. While complimenting Brown’s ability to get to the rim on offense, Kistler specifically praised his lock-down defense.

“He really did wonders for us going against the other teams’ best player,” the coach said of Brown; he also called Brown a “work leader,” who “doesn’t say a lot, but his actions speak pretty loud.”

As for Jacobsen, his playing time wound up being scaled back toward the end of last season due to an injured back that caused a great deal of pain, Kistler said. But things are looking better entering Jacobsen’s senior season.

“He’s a great role model, great leader. He’s one of the nicest kids ever, hardest-working,” and always has encouragement for his teammates, Kistler said, adding that, “His motor never stops, either.”

Playing right behind and alongside the PHS seniors is a large crop of juniors.

“They’re all very talented and they’ve been playing basketball since they were little kids, so they’re very, very court savvy … especially when they’re playing together,” Kistler said of the eight juniors on the varsity and JV rosters.

Mason Marchant “stepped up big at the end of the season last year and .. he kind of ran the show offensively for us at the point guard,” said Kistler; as a sophomore, Marchant averaged 17 points a game in the Panthers’ three matchups at state while being a positive presence on the court.

Landon Lengfelder saw success as an outside shooter last season, but he’s added some muscle since then.

“We’re hoping his game becomes more of an inside-out game where he can get to the rim plus shoot it from the outside,” Kistler said.

Trevor Groves’s defensive skills have improved “big time and his court awareness is really high,” the coach said, while Mason’s twin brother, Jaden Marchant, “plays just as fast and just as smart.”

As for the team’s 6-foot-tall post player, Adrian Geller, “he plays just about the size of 6’3”, 6’4”, and his post defense is really amazing,” Kistler said. On the other side of the court, the coach said Geller’s unselfish play — screening, picking and rolling and fighting for rebounds — was “kind of the reason why our offense was working,” the coach said.

Even after praising a slew of his players, Kistler said there’s “there’s so many more guys I could talk about,” such as newcomers Jesse Trotter and Sam Bauer.

“We’ve kind of got a little bit of everything,” the coach said.

To start out the 2019-2020 season, the Panthers will head to Lovell High School for a two-day tournament. They will not be getting a chance to ease into things.

“We’re going to play some of the top teams of the state right out of the gate,” Kistler said.

Powell’s season kicks off at noon Friday against Buffalo — a team that the Panthers shocked in the state semifinals in March — followed by a matchup with Douglas at 6 p.m. A game against Rawlins at noon on Saturday will close out PHS’s opening weekend.

“There’s a potential couple teams in there that could really put it to us pretty good if we don’t play well,” Kistler said. “That’s good for us, though: We get to find out early kind of where we stack [up] and what we’ve got to improve on.”

Coach Kistler is being assisted by Waleryan Wisniewski and Greg Stenlund.

 

Click here to see the season schedule

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