Like the girls on the Pahranagat Valley volleyball team, most of the same girls on the basketball team have the exact same goal: to recapture the Division IV state championship they lost last year.
Coach Amy Huntsman, in her 20th year, has a core of three seniors who know the taste of defeat, but also the joy of victory. Bailee Hosier, Traci Strong, and Kennedy Huntsman were on the 2012 team that lost the state basketball title to Eureka. The same trio was on the 2013 volleyball team that reclaimed the state title they lost in 2012 to Tonopah, so the girls are looking to go 2 for 2 their senior year.
All three were named First Team All Southern League Division IV last year. Junior Jamie Hansen was a Second Team selection, and all look to have a good season this year as well.
As Pahranagat had no seniors last year, most all the players have returned.
Another pleasant addition to the lineup this season is the return of 5-11 senior Kimberly Lewis. She played for Huntsman her freshman and sophomore year at PVHS before the family moved to Overton and she played last year at Moapa Valley. She was the leading scorer for the Lady Pirates (225 points, 11.3 ppg), leading rebounder (228, 11.4 ppg), and most 2-point shots made, 90 for 190 (47%). The family moved back to Alamo in mid-November.
Huntsman said Lewis, “brings height to the team, something that we haven’t had the last couple of years.”
While Lewis will definitely be an additional dynamic to the team, Huntsman feels “the team was prepared to do some very special things this year anyway. What Kimmie does just brings more to the table.”
Huntsman said, “The whole team plays with a lot of heart, with a lot of intensity, work very, very well together, some of the hardest working girls I’ve ever seen. They practice hard, and give 100 percent. They know how to win, and they don’t give up. They have the opportunity and ability to do better than they did last year. They have more than a hunger to regain that title.”
Admittedly, the Panther girls are not a tall team, excepting Lewis, but Huntsman says, “as with last year, our motto is, It’s not how big your are, it’s how big you play, and these girls play big, bigger than their height.”
Around the league, Tonopah, even with the graduation of Southern Division IV Player of the Year Deanna Van Poucke, still look to be strong, as they were in volleyball this year.
“Beatty is expected to be a scrappy team, Sandy Valley is improving, and Lund, small as their school is, is always able to come up with a competitive team,” said Huntsman.
In the northern part of the state, Huntsman thinks Eureka, Wells and Virginia City may be the favorites. Smith Valley was state runner-up in volleyball and may be able to field a strong basketball team as well, and Mineral County was coming on toward the end of the season last year, but lost out to eventual state champion Eureka in the northern Division IV playoff semifinals.
The Panther girls began the preseason Dec. 3 at The Meadows in Las Vegas, and beat the Mustangs 48-28. Hosier led the team with 14 points. Melaney Mayes had nine points for The Meadows.
Pahranagat Valley plays at Division 1-A Chaparral Dec. 6.
The first home game is the same as the boys, hosting Lake Mead Dec. 10 at 6 p.m.
Huntsman notes an important start to the season will be playing in the Comstock Classic in Virginia City Dec. 12-14. Pahranagat Valley has not done this before, and she says, “We’ll get to see a number of Northern Division IV teams, including Wells, Smith Valley, Virginia City, and Eureka, and see what they have. It will be a really good tournament for us there”
Huntsman has 11 state championships, most of any girls basketball coach in Nevada, another title with this group of seniors would make an even dozen.