NOTHING BUT NET

Boys second, girls fourth at state basketball tourney

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NOTHING BUT NET

The Panther basketball team poses with their second place trophy after losing to the Lander Tigers 58-40 in the Wyoming State Basketball Championships in Casper

The Panther basketball team poses with their second place trophy after losing to the Lander Tigers 58-40 in the Wyoming State Basketball Championships in Casper

Greg Wise

The Panther basketball team poses with their second place trophy after losing to the Lander Tigers 58-40 in the Wyoming State Basketball Championships in Casper

Greg Wise

Greg Wise

The Panther basketball team poses with their second place trophy after losing to the Lander Tigers 58-40 in the Wyoming State Basketball Championships in Casper

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The Panther and Lady Panther basketball teams had a good run at the state tournament in Casper March 7-9, with both teams making the top 5 spots, and the Panther team making it into the championship match to contend for a state title.

 

The Panthers rolled into state as the No. 2 seed from the west, taking on the Torrington Trailblazers, defeating them 68-39 to advance to the state semifinal matchup against No. 1-ranked Buffalo.

PHS came out swinging against Buffalo, refusing to lose to the No. 1-ranked team and keeping the score within about four points the whole game. With several made free-throws and threes’ in the final minutes of the fourth quarter, the Panthers stunned the Bison, pulling out a win 66-64 and advancing to the state championship game for a run at a state title for PHS.

“The team worked together really well,” senior guard William Preator said. “We trusted in each other throughout the whole weekend and it showed against the top tier teams. Teamwork was definitely a key factor this weekend.”

The Panthers were ecstatic to be playing in the championship and getting the chance to bring home some hardware.

“It was an unbelievable feeling,” Preator said. “To complete my high school career by creating this Cinderella story couldn’t have been a more perfect way to end.”

PHS took on the Lander Tigers in the state title game; the Panthers lost to in the regional title game the previous weekend by 10 points. The Panthers had also lost to the Tigers in both rounds of conference play during the regular season.

The Panthers seemed to have run out of fuel after their first two state games, coming out slow and allowing the Tigers to gain a solid lead early in the game and turning over the ball several times due to the Tiger’s press.

PHS could not seem to drain their shots for the majority of the game, whereas the Tigers were hitting most of the shots that went up and pulling down several offensive boards to get extra possessions and shots that the Panthers could not reciprocate.

In the end, the Panthers fell to the Tigers by an 18 point gap 58-40, taking a second place finish at the state tournament. This was the Panthers’ first state debut in four years, and many of them were grateful for the opportunity to be there.

The Panthers are graduating five seniors from their program this year including Kaelan Groves, Preator, Dalton Woodward, Carson Heinen and Kain Baxter. The Panthers will also be graduating their manager Alex Smith.

Postseason honors were awarded after the conclusion of the state championships, with Groves earning All-Conference honors and no Panthers earning All-State.

The Lady Panther Basketball Team went into state as the third seed from the west, taking on the No. 2 seed from the other side of the state, the Rawlins Lady Outlaws.

The Lady Panthers had defeated the Lady Outlaws opening weekend of the season by a four-point score difference. The Lady Panthers came out of the gate fast and the score was within two to four points for most of the first half.

In the fourth quarter, PHS built up a 10-point lead on the Lady Outlaws, but lost it on a scoring run from Rawlins, tying the game as the final minutes ran down on the clock.

The lady Panthers defeated the Lady Outlaws with a score of 51-50, with senior Aubrie Stenerson scoring the winning points from bonus free throws.

“I think we played really well together as a team and we came prepared,” senior guard Katie Mckenzie said. “We knew it was going to be a tough game but we also knew that we had nothing to lose so we just played out hearts out and it all payed off.”

The next day, the Lady Panthers took on the Lyman Lady Eagles, whom they had lost to the previous weekend in the regional quarterfinal game.

PHS battled for most of the first quarter, keeping the score close, but the Lady Eagle’s press proved to be too much for the Lady Panthers, getting them many easy baskets and padding the score to give the Lady Eagles a solid win 60-30, putting the Lady Panthers in the third and fourth place game against the Buffalo Lady Bison.

“I think nerves was the biggest thing that went wrong,” Mckenzie said. “The whole team was just nervous and by the time we settled in it was too late.”

The Lady Panthers Came out strong against the Lady Bison, but couldn’t seem to overcome the guard pressure and turned over the ball several times. PHS struggled to retaliate the Lady Bison’s scoring and lost the game 48-30, taking away a fourth-place finish.

The Lady Panthers are graduating 8 seniors this season, including Rachel Bonander, Aubrie Stenerson, Katie Mckenzie, Karlie Mckenzie, Ashtyn Heny, Devon Curtis, Brea Terry and Jasmyne Lensegrav.

The Lady Panthers will also be graduating their two managers, Rylee Moore and Hartly Thorington.

For many seniors, it is sad to see the season end.

“Basketball has been a part of my life as long as I can remember,” McKenzie said. “I will miss being able to just hang out with my best friends and play the game we all love.”

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