ON THE PANTHERFRONT

Boys and girls basketball teams run through the Bighorn Classic Tournament
Senior Gunnar Erickson fights his way for a basket.
Senior Gunnar Erickson fights his way for a basket.
Greg Wise

Powell High School’s boys and girls basketball teams participated in the Bighorn Classic tournament on Jan. 12 and 13. Both teams found great success after walking away with first place and the infamous trophy. 

The Lady Panthers finished with a perfect 4-0 record, outscoring their opponents 252-129. In those four games, the team averaged 63 points per game. While basketball is widely known to be played as a unit, everyone contributes to pulling out victories. The Lady Panthers rallied together, combining their individual strengths to put up dominating performances.

“I think the whole team plays different roles,” sophomore girls basketball player Hali Hancock said. “Everyone stands out in their own ways.”  

With multiple wins under their belts from earlier on in the day; the girls’ basketball team headed into the final game ready for a fight to be declared as champions.

“Our most challenging game was probably the championship game against Worland,” senior girls’ basketball player Waycee Harvey said. ”We still beat them by a pretty good amount, but they did a pretty good job at kind of slowing us down.”

Our most challenging game was probably the championship game against Worland. We still beat them by a pretty good amount, but they did a pretty good job at kind of slowing us down.

— senior girls' basketball player Waycee Harvey

The Bighorn Classic Championship game concluded with a score of 42-25 Powell. The Warriors played with unreal heart, holding the Lady Panthers to their lowest points scored in the entire tournament.

Playing on the bigger stage of the tourney wasn’t new to the team. Returning players from last season, and the season before that knew what was at stake.

“We’ve been in the championship the past two years,” Harvey said. “Last year against Lovell we lost, so we were all pretty confident we would come out victorious this time.”

The boy’s team had eerily similar results to the girls, also going 4-0 while outscoring the opposing teams 285-147. 

Confident going into the tournament, the boys’ team took win after win, blowing out Wind River 75-27 and Shoshoni 82-19. They continued to end on a high note as they took another victory in the championship game.

“Our goal that weekend was to go for that trophy,” junior boys basketball player Keona Wisniewski said. “We were pretty proud when we brought it home.”

The boys ended up playing Lovell in the championship game. Intense fire from both sides brought the crowd a thrilling matchup. By the time the final buzzer went off, the scoreboard read 60-58 Powell. 

However, before the concluding game, the Panthers steamrolled their way through the bracket. In their first trifecta of games, the margin of victory was at least 25 points or more.

“Our first three performances we played really well,” Wisniewski said. “The championship game we weren’t playing super sharp and we were sluggish.”

Identical to the girls’ final game, the boys were held to their lowest-scoring game of the series. On the other hand, the team had eaten a full meal only 45 minutes before the game. That easily could have played a contributing factor to the slow start.

After bringing home the trophy, the Panthers are far from satisfied with their season. They’ve been trending in the right direction, but they know the job’s not finished.

“Our plan is to hopefully keep winning,” Wisniewski said. “We want to end up hanging a banner at the end of the season.”

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