Dave Maxwell:
Pahranagat’s Culen Highbe goes in for a layin against Lincoln’s Elijah Harr. Highbe and Tabor Maxwell both scored 17 points leading Pahranagat Valley to a 52-44 win over the Lynx.

With a good crowd on hand prior to Christmas, Pahranagat Valley and Lincoln County battled in their only meeting of the season.

The unbeaten Panthers (12-0) looked like they would blow it open early coming out with a 17-4 start, but Lincoln rallied and brought the first quarter margin to  17-8.

But the Panthers continued forcing turnovers and fashioned a 33-16 halftime lead.

In the second half though, it was the Panthers who had trouble with ball handling and Lincoln playing much better, closed a 17point lead down to eight in the third quarter, but that was as close as they could get and eventually fell 52-44.

Culen Highbe and Tabor Maxwell each had 17 points each. Kevin Mathews was tops for Lincoln with 13.

In foul shooting, Lincoln was 10-of-17 (59 percent) and Alamo was 18-of-26 (69 percent).

Lynx assistant coach Greg Walker said the team coming back in the second half is what they have done a lot this year. “In the first half we just seem to struggle to get things done, but in the second half we play like a whole different team. We thought Mathews and Elijah Harr (with nine points) both had a good game.”

Pahranagat coach Mike Strong, whose team is unbeaten up to Christmas break for the first time in recent memory said, “We played really good basketball in the first half, got about anything we wanted. Give Lincoln credit for the second half. We stood around too much and they took advantage. When you don’t play defense and put a team at the free throw line, that’s a recipe to let a team back into the game. We don’t want to be playing our best basketball yet, but are happy where we are at going into Christmas.”

Lincoln head coach Ken Thornock said the Lynx played better defense in the second half, (in which they outscored Pahranagat 28-19), and had more shot attempts (31). “We just had to do that because Alamo outplayed us in the first half.”

He said, “I feel good about the way we played in the second half, and during our league season we’ll have to play that way each game. Our league is tough, we don’t have a night off. We’ll have to come with our shoes buckled up and ready to play every night, and we expect to get better.”

On Dec. 15 in Alamo, junior center Culen Highbe scored 15 points, and the Panthers rolled past the Wells Leopards 56-27.

Cody Williams added 10 points for Pahranagat Valley, which led 35-10 at the half.

Alex Eriksen had 10 points to pace Wells. The Leopards made only four trips to the foul line and made hit two. Pahranagat made only three of seven free throws attempts.

The Panthers had beaten Wells 51-17 at the Wells Rural Electric tournament Dec. 3.

Pahranagat plays at Lake Mead on Dec. 29. After the New Year, the team has 7 of their 11 remaining games at home, with the first league game at Indian Springs Jan. 6. A non-league game follows Jan. 7 at Virgin Valley in Mesquite.

League play continues after that, except for one more non-league game with Mountain View Jan. 28.

The final league game before the playoffs is Feb. 2 with Beaver Dam in Alamo. The league playoffs are Feb. 15-18, and the state tournament is Feb. 24-25 in Las Vegas at a site yet to be determined.

The Panthers best start in recent memory was when they went 16-2 into mid-January in 2005-2006. That team finished 28-4 and beat Trinity International for the state championship. It was coach Strong’s final game at PVHS until he took the team over for a second time in 2013.