The new head coach of the Powell High School boys’ basketball program is no stranger to the position. Mike Heny is back leading the Panthers.

After seven seasons away, Heny returns to the post he held for four seasons. He was recently announced as the successor to Chase Kistler, who stepped down as the boys’ coach to switch over to being the head football coach. Heny is the defensive coordinator for Powell football, a role he will maintain under Kistler.

Heny said when he left the boys’ basketball program, it was for personal reasons at the time (in 2013), but he’s happy to be back.

“I still had a really strong desire and love for coaching basketball. I always thought if I just prepared and stayed with becoming a better coach, and a better teacher, and a better person, that if the opportunity ever came up again, I was going to probably jump at it.”

With his kid’s no longer in school, he felt he could commit more time to be a head coach.

Heny was previously head coach from 2009-10 through 2012-2013. He compiled a record of 56-46, which included a runner-up finish in 2013. Heny coached three players that earned All-State honors in his first tour of duty.

“You always try to look back and use that as a learning experience and a positive. I try to just build off of my experiences, and you never waste an opportunity to get better.”

Having worked with kids at all different levels, Heny feels it gives him a better perspective on what their needs are.

“At the end of the day, coaching is coaching, and anything that you do you should use as a way to get better.”

The reaction to his hiring has been positive in the Powell community. Heny said he’s very appreciative of those that have contacted and congratulated him.

“Right now there’s a lot of excitement around the people that I know and the kids. Sometimes, it’s just of face, so I am truly humbled and grateful that as many people that I know, even parents and other people that I’ve known, that have reached out and said they’re glad that I’ve been able to have this chance. It’s been great so far.”

So where are the Panthers at as he comes back to the head coaching role? He believes it’s in a good place.

Powell made a run to the Class 3A title game in 2018 and finished in second place. They qualified for the 2020 state basketball tournament on a game-winning shot at the buzzer. The Panthers will return all but three players from last season’s squad.

Heny said, “We’ve got a really good group of returning seniors that’s going to be the core of that team and some good role players in our system.”

He’s even helped at the eighth-grade level, so he knows what Powell has coming up.

“I like where the program is at, and we’ll just see if we can utilize the strengths of the kids we’ve got and build off the momentum of a couple of straight trips to the state tournament the last couple of years.”

His approach starts with discipline and playing smart. Heny described it as making the right plays at the right time.

“I really take pride in trying to teach them the game of basketball so they can think on their own. We’ll be hard-nosed defensively, one way or another, because it usually starts on the defensive end. The more I get to see them play, the more I’ll know what we can do offensively.”

The Panthers return two All-Conference performers in Landon Lengfelder and Mason Marchant. Both were juniors in the 2019-20 season. Marchant led Powell with averages of 14.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, three assists, and 2.6 steals per game. Lengfelder added 12. 6 points, three rebounds, and 2.2 steals per game. The Panther finished last season with an 11-13 overall record.

Heny also understands the competitiveness there is in Class 3A right now, particularly on the west side of the state. He said he knows some teams lost some pretty good players, like Luke Mortimer at Worland and Niieihii Black from Lander.

“Worland’s certainly going to be a really strong team again next year,” says Heny. “They lost only a couple of kids. Lander’s always good at the style of play they have. They bring back a couple of guys. Mountain View seems like they graduated a bunch, but you never can count them or Lyman out, either. I think we’re coming in at the right time, at least, as far as, where we would fit in, in that. We’ll just do our best to compete in tough 3A West (Region).”

Heny realizes that’s more difficult now than before because of the current situation with the COVID-19 pandemic and gyms shut down all across the country.

“We’ll have some catching up to do with a new system and a new scheme, but Coach Kistler did a good job with those guys with the fundamentals and on the defensive side, so hopefully, it won’t be as big of a transition as maybe it would be in other years.”

Heny and the Panthers will try to ‘hit the ground running’ to make Powell a factor in Class 3A.

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