Mission accomplished. Since the first day of practice last fall, the main goal of the Pahranagat Valley girls basketball team was to get back to the state championship game and face whoever happened to be on the other side of the scorer’s table, and recapture the title they lost the year before.
As it turned out, on the other side of the table was defending state champion Eureka. And the Panther girls, appearing in their fourth straight championship game, were up to the task, building a big lead, then holding off a furious 17-point fourth quarter rally by the Vandals, to earn a 50-46 win for their third championship in the last four years.
The title was of special significance to the team and Pahranagat Valley High coach Amy Huntsman who was diagnosed with breast cancer Feb. 6. Both teams wore t-shirts during warmups in support of breast cancer awareness.
Bailey Hosier added, “Coach Huntsman all week has been saying we need to play as a team and a family. And I truly believe that we truly did play for Huntsman… Winning that state championship was amazing. I think it’s the best one we’ve won all of my four years of high school.”
But no one expected the gem that senior guard Hosier turned out to be over the tournament weekend. The 5-foot-5 sharpshooter devastated both Pyramid Lake and Eureka with her outside shooting.
She totaled 54 points, including a state tournament record of 14 3-pointers, in the Panthers’ two games, including more than one NBA-length 3-pointer to the continual delight of the fans.
Hosier eclipsed the previous record held by Bishop Gorman’s Aaryn Ellenberg, who made 10 3s during the 2010 Class 4A tournament.
It started the night before in the Friday semifinals at Wooster High, when Hosier set an NIAA single game tournament record with eight 3s, single-handedly dominating Pyramid Lake (22-3) on her way to a career high 33 points.
And the Pahranagat press caused numerous Pyramid Lake turnovers the first half. With sophomore guard Patricia Christy hitting from the outside and driving the lane without fear, Pyramid Lake, playing in a gym packed with Lakers fans, still managed to make it a back-and-forth game in the first half. Christy scored 16 of her 24 points in the first half for the Lakers, who trailed by just 19-17, but 38-27 at halftime.
At the end of the third quarter and the early stages of the fourth, Hosier again had the hot hand, scoring 13 points, including three more from long range.
A Laker foul off an inbounds play with eight-tenths of a second left in the third quarter gave Hosier three free throws, of which she made good on two. “It definitely changed all the momentum right there,” Pyramid Lake coach Raymond Charles said. “We just never really could rebound after that.”
The Panther girls then overwhelmed Pyramid Lake 26-6 in the final quarter for a 76-46 win.
Pahranagat got 14 points from Kimberly Lewis, and 11 from Traci Strong.
In addition to Christy’s 24 points, Pyramid Lake got 13 from Jakoby Stump.
In the Saturday night championship at the UNR Lawlor Events Center, Pahranagat faced Eureka, the team that had beaten them the year before in the championship, and a team they had split with during the regular season this year.
PVHS (25-4) came out ready and Eureka (28-3) did not, as Strong and Hosier both buried two first quarter 3s and an 18-7 Alamo lead. Lewis kept it up for the Panthers in the second quarter with all of her eight points, and a 31-18 halftime lead. She also finished the night with 14 rebounds and three blocked shots. Strong had 13 points. In all, the Panthers had nine three-pointers on the night.
Eureka coach Ken Fujii said he didn’t know why his team started out so slow. “If there is a reason, I don’t know what it is. You hope your team will come out and play effectively from the start, but it doesn’t always work that way.”
Pahranagat Valley’s lead grew to as many as 15 points in the third quarter and then 44-31 on a baseline jumper by Jamie Hansen with 6:45 remaining in the game.
But the Vandals would rally, and do so in a big way. A 15-5 run paced by six of Natalie Norcutt’s game-high 26 points, leaving Eureka trailing only 49-46 with 1:12 left in regulation.
Huntsman said, “I wasn’t sure we were going to stop it. But luckily, we got a couple of stops and were able to finish.”
An important jump ball called in their favor with 16.6 seconds to play, set up the Panther win, a free throw by Hosier, her only one of the night, with 12 seconds left that made it a two-possession game, 50-46. Alamo was 1-for-3 at the line, while Eureka was 12-for-20.
Hosier, who finished with 21 points, said later, “I was actually really nervous. I went to the free-throw line and I was shaking. All I said was, ‘Bailee, you just have to make one.’ “
Huntsman said, “I think so many times it comes down to something like that. A free throw. A nice defensive stop. Something simple and fundamental you work on all year and for all of your life. It’s kind of significant that that’s what it was that clinched it for us.”
PVHS finished the season with a 13-game win streak, and earned a record 14th state championship, as well as a record 12th title for Huntsman in her 20 years of coaching.