1The story of “The Little Engine That Could” would be a fitting climax to the 2015 Pahranagat Valley girls basketball team. And senior guard Jamie Hansen would be the right choice for the engineer.

Hansen and the shorter, but quicker PVHS girls successfully defended their Division IV state championship Saturday at the Orleans Arena.

The slight 5-foot, 5-inch senior wasn’t on the floor a lot in the second half, stuck on the bench with foul trouble, but she did more than enough to give her team that “I-think-I-can” mentality in the first half.

She scored 17 points in the first two quarters to build a 34-26 halftime lead, and the Lady Panthers held on for a 57-49 win over Smith Valley to repeat at state champions, their fourth title in the last six years.

“It feels great that we accomplished this,” Hansen said. “A lot of people didn’t believe in us, but we believed in ourselves and our coaches believed in us, and we went out and got the biggest prize of all. I think we played awesome. This is definitely the perfect way (to go out).” The Alamo girls finished the season with a 12-game win streak.

Many players for the two teams had faced each other in the Division IV state volleyball championship in November, which Pahranagat won 3-1.

The championship gave coach Amy Huntsman, subject of a nice article in the Review-Journal that morning about being a cancer survivor, a record 13th state championship in her 21 years of coaching.
During the title game, Hansen had six rebounds, two assists and two steals for the Panthers (17-10) before fouling out with 4:49 left.

“Jamie is an animal,” Huntsman said. “I don’t even know how to explain what kind of kid she is. She’s such a leader, she’s so positive, and she never quits. She was so key to everything we did this year, keeping us focused and positive. We just knew if we needed something done, we could go to Jamie.”

While Hansen was getting the points for Pahranagat, Smith Valley was getting the rebounds, and outrebounded PVHS 24-13 in the first half.

However, the Panthers forced 13 turnovers and held the Bulldogs to just 11-for-33 shooting from the field (33.3 percent) and the halftime lead.

“We had to stop giving them second-chance shots,” Huntsman said. “They were just killing us on the boards. They just fought, and it was so fun to watch. Defense has been our key all year. We’re not very big, so you have to play to your strengths. And one of our strengths is our quickness and pressing.”

Pahranagat Valley forced 23 turnovers and held Smith Valley to 26.7 percent from the field for the game. The Panthers had their biggest lead, 54-39, with 4:41 to go.

But the Bulldogs were not going to roll over and pull in their tail, they fashioned a 7-0 run to cut the deficit to 54-46 with just less than a minute to play, but the rally came too late.

Freshmen forwards Karley Whipple (12 points) and Madalyn Taylor (six points, four rebounds) made key contributions off the bench to help the Panthers.

“They were awesome,” Huntsman said. “They did a nice job. Whipple hasn’t played a lot all season. We got into foul trouble early with Alyson Egbert, so we went with some younger kids. These last two games, Taylor has been so tough.”

Madison Harris had 11 points and 12 rebounds for Pahranagat Valley.

Kellie Rogaczewski led Smith Valley with 15 points and 18 rebounds. Sandra Gomez added 11 points and 12 rebounds for the Bulldogs who finished the season 28-3.

At the foul line Smith Valley was 15-for-29 (55 percent), and Pahranagat was 9-for-15 (60 percent).
Friday’s semifinal match was the second go-round between Pahranagat Valley and Pyramid Lake. Pahranagat had won the same game in the 2014 tournament.

Hansen, as the floor director for Pahranagat, spent the first 30 minutes of the game being pushed, shoved and elbowed, but in lock-step defensively with Pyramid Lake star Patricia Christy.

And Hansen scored 11 points while doing everything her team asked of her defensively in a 57-38 win over the Lakers at Orleans Arena.

“Physically and mentally, I was exhausted, but it’s worth it in the end,” she said, and having to give away a decided weight advantage to Christy. “I just had to put everything into it. It was really hard, but we have been preparing for this for weeks. It was hard, but I did it.”

Christy finished with 11 points, but managed just two points and only three field-goal attempts in the second half.

“We couldn’t let her get the ball in her hands because we knew everything went through her,” Huntsman said. “We asked a lot of Jamie today.”

“Every time I would go to sub to give her a break,” Huntsman said, “Jamie would say ‘No, Coach, I want 10 (Christy). I got this.’” It’s such a good example to our young kids. She has been a great leader this year. For her to come and step up at this part of the season and play with so much heart, she’s just a great kid. She’s like one of my own.”

The Panthers appeared to have the game in hand early, leading 27-12 with just under three minutes left in the second quarter but Pyramid Lake (19-8) trimmed the deficit to 30-20 at the half and 31-28 early in the third quarter. But PVHS, The Little Engine That Could, responded with a 9-0 run of their own to close out the third and a 49-40 lead.

“We just had to play our game and not get caught up in everything else around us,” Huntsman said. “It worked.”

Kalli Hosier scored 21 points to lead the Panthers, and teammate Madalyn Taylor grabbed 13 rebounds.
Gigi Rusk led Pyramid Lake with 12 points.

In the other Friday semifinal, Josy Wortman scored 21 points and the Smith Valley Bulldogs almost blew a 17-point third quarter lead, but held on for a 59-49 win over Round Mountain.

Kellie Rogaczewski added 18 points and 12 rebounds for Smith Valley. Kelly O’Keefe had 13 points for Smith Valley, which shot just 23 of 82 from the field (28 percent).

Freshman Alyssa Hanks led Round Mountain (13-13) with 27 points and 24 rebounds. Hannah Swafford added 13 points for the Knights, who committed 33 turnovers.