Finding themselves just one notch under where they need to make the final spot into the upcoming league playoffs, Pahranagat Valley boys

Panthers players Tabor Maxwell and Geoff Mortensen (3) trap a Sandy Valley player in their 63-34 win last week. (Dave Maxwell photo)

Finding themselves just one notch under where they need to make the final spot into the upcoming league playoffs, Pahranagat Valley boys basketball are in the middle of their final three games on the road with designs to make it happen.

The Panther boys took the measure of Sandy Valley last week with a 63-34 win in their final home game of the season, but lost on the road to a very athletic and speedy Spring Mountain team 66-51 Feb. 4.

The hard road continues this weekend and next with games at Round Mountain, then at Beatty on Valentines Day.

Pahranagat scored consistently in each quarter last week against Sandy Valley (5-9, 1-4). Wade Leavitt had eight of his game high 15 points in the first half. Christian Higbee was hot in the second half with four long ball shots for 12 points, and Tabor Maxwell added 11 points, to complete the trio of double figure scoring for the Panthers.

Lane Eastham came on strong in the second half for Sandy Valley, getting 10 points, after being held to just four in the first half, for a total of 14 points.

Alamo coach Mike Strong said the boys are playing better in the last part of the league season, “and pushed the ball probably the best we have all year, which was really nice, and did well defensively also.”

But he stopped short of saying the team is beginning to peak right now. “We still have a long way to go, but the sky is the limit for these kids just because of their youth and the things we are trying to do with them.” The Panthers have only one senior on this year’s team.

Spring Mountain was just a more athletic team than Alamo and employed a smothering full court man-to-press that created numerous turnovers by the Panthers, and points off turnovers.

Pahranagat (5-17, 2-4) got behind early 17-8 after the first quarter, fought back hard and drew within four points early in the fourth quarter, but back-to-back turnovers allowed the second place Eagles (10-12, 4-1) to push the lead to eight points again, and the Panthers could not catch up.

Harlow Hawkins scored 13 of his game high 17 points in the second half. George Brown added 11 points. Christian Higbee had four three-pointers for Pahranagat to finish with 16 points, and Tabor Maxwell added 11.

Spring Mountain coach Ed Cheltenham said, “I thought we were the quicker team, our big men are even faster than those from other teams. With the pressure we put on and the bench that I have, I am finally able to substitute more people at a time and have balanced scoring.”

So, PVHS continues to be on outside looking in for that No. 6 playoff spot, making the games at Round Mountain and Beatty absolutely critical. And, even if they do make the playoffs, it is likely they will have to travel to the home site of a higher seeded team in the first round, something the Panther boys have not had to do in almost 20 years.