Citing a desire to spend more time with his family, Pahranagat Valley boys basketball coach Brian Higbee has decided to step down after seven years at the post.

Higbee, 43, won four consecutive Division IV state championships, and after taking over in 2006 from Mike Strong had a record of 134-58.

In addition to being principal at Pahranagat Elementary, Higbee has also served the entire time as assistant football coach to his older brother, and head coach, Dr. Ken Higbee.

PVHS principal Mike Strong, 49, will serve as interim coach this season. This will be  Strong’s second stint as boys head coach. He served from 1994-2006, taking the Panthers to six state championship games, winning the title in 1998 and 2006. His record at Pahranagat Valley was 217-178.

He then became head coach at Moapa Valley in 2006-2008, and had a record of 21-35.

Strong returned to Pahranagat Valley High in 2008 as a school counselor, and became principal in 2009. He has also served as assistant football coach, and assistant girl’s basketball coach.

A 1983 graduate of PVHS, and all-star athlete, Strong is one of only two players to have had their football jerseys retired by the school. The other is Lonny Walch in 2002.

Six lettermen return for the Panthers, the defending Division IV state champions, who were 15-10 in 2013.

Graduation took four major players from last year’s team: Southern Division IV Player of the Year Tyler Higbee, along with First Team All-Star selections Austin Poulsen and  Tyson Sparrow, and Second Team selection Mason Stirling. The only returning starter is junior Wade Leavitt.

Pahranagat will have only one senior on the team this year, 6-3 forward Jake Carter.

Five juniors make up the bulk of the Panthers strength, led in the backcourt by Leavitt (7.0 ppg, 3.0 assists), Jordan Cryts and Caleb Hansen. Joel Holaday at 6-7 and 6-1 Paden Higbee, look to join Carter at the forward position.

Sophomores Shawn Wadsworth and 6-1 Geoffrey Mortensen will contribute quite a bit off the bench, as well.

Three freshman come in with a lot of talent from the Pahranagat Valley Middle School program that won the Las Vegas Valley Athletic Conference championship last spring. They are Tabor Maxwell, Christian Higbee, and Cody Williams, all expected to see playing time on both JV and varsity.

Pahranagat expects to be balanced with an inside and outside game.

The Panthers are getting their traditional late start to the season as most of the players just completed playing on the state championship football team.

First games for the Panthers are at the pre-season Lake Mead Holiday Classic Dec. 5-7, and slated to first play Bishop Gorman JV and Calvary Christian of Fort Worth, Texas.

The first home game is Dec. 10, hosting Lake Mead Christian at 7:30.

Another interesting preseason tournament is the Comstock Classic at Virginia City, Dec. 12-14, where a number of northern Division IV teams, and Division III Battle Mountain, are expected to compete.

PVHS has a long period from Dec. 17 to Jan. 17, where they play six games on the road, including trips to Eureka, White Pine, and Wells. League play begins Jan. 18, hosting Indian Springs.

Spring Mountain and Adelson are thought to be strong contenders for the league championship that Alamo has owned the last three years.