Cody Williams still sat on the bench with a big ice pack wrapped around his right ankle. His team had just lost to Word of Life 52-34 in the semifinals of the Division IV league tournament, and out of a chance to go to the state tournament.
Williams’ got hurt in the first 10 seconds of the game and did not return. He raced down court after the opening tip to block a lay in by Word’s Elijah Hoye and suffered a painful high ankle sprain coming down.
Coach Mike Strong said his loss changed the game plan a lot because when you lose your point guard and the rotation changes having to bring in your sixth man. “But no excuses, the kids played their tails off. We did a really nice job on their two top players, (Hoye and Trent McCall). It was just somebody else that hit some big shots and we had a tough time scoring.”
The Panthers (18-10) were also plagued by their season-long bugaboo, Strong said. “Free throws (7 of 17, 41.2 percent) and turnovers, and they showed up again.”
The game was tied at 19 at the half, but in the third quarter, Jarrett Fisher hit three of his five three-pointers and helped the Eagles barrage the Panthers with a 22-4 run for a 41-23 lead. Fisher and Paul Kelker each finished with 15 points, and Hoye added 10. Culen Highbe led Pahranagat with 14 points. Tabor Maxwell had 10.
The Eagles also limited PVHS to only two field goals in the third quarter, both three-pointers by Shawn Wadsworth.
The teams played very even in for three quarters, even had the same number of baskets for the game, 17, and WOL only made three more free throws in the game than did Alamo.
Thus it was the third quarter breakaway that propelled the Eagles to the championship game, where they topped Adelson 54-50 for their first league tournament title and first trip to the state tournament.
As the No. 1 seed from the south, Word of Life (17-3) will face Mineral County (17-10) of Hawthorne in the semifinals at Reed High at 6:20. Adelson (12-9) will meet Whittell (25-2), riding a 23-game win streak, at 3 p.m. The championship is Saturday at 4:30 p.m. at the Lawlor Center.
As the No. 4 seed in the regular season, the Panthers had a first round playoff game in Alamo on Wednesday. Culen Highbe scored 12 points to guide the Panthers to a 45-24 victory over Beaver Dam, who’s shooting from the field was as cold as a frozen pond.
Tabor Maxwell added seven points for Pahranagat which raced to a 26-7 halftime advantage. Beaver Dam had a big third quarter with 13 points, but all the other periods were four points or less.
Nick Miromontes scored 11 points to lead Beaver Dam (9-9).