“You’ve got to make your free throws,” say most any players on a basketball team, coaches, too, and Pahranagat Valley did just that when it counted the most in a close 58-52 win last week over Word of Life.
The scrappy Eagles were not going to go away, having beaten the Panthers their last two meetings, including the regional semi-finals last year. Word of Life trailed 32-22 at halftime but had a good third quarter to only be down 43-40 at the start of the fourth quarter.
From there things stayed interesting. Senior guard Ivan Candolesas got hot for the Eagles and scored most of his game-high 28 points leading the team on run after run at the Panthers, but not able to overtake them because of the Panther boys making their free throws. In the fourth quarter, Pahranagat was 9-of-13 (69 percent) at the line, Culen Highbe going 4-of-6, and Cody Williams 5-of-5.
Highbe was high point man for Alamo with 19 and eight rebounds. Williams added 15 points, 11 rebounds and three assists, and Tabor Maxwell scored 11.
Word of Life was 6-of-14 (43 percent) at the free throw line, while the Panthers had a good night there 16-of 24 (66 percent).
Panther coach Mike Strong said in the second half the Panthers had to hold off the Eagles making some scoring runs at the lead PV had built. “They were athletic and had some size. We haven’t seen a lot of size this year. I thought our boys moved the ball well, played hard and hustled, and fortunately we hit enough free throws down the stretch. We’ve been shooting the free throws pretty well overall as of late (65 percent). It’s important when you hit those and it was able to ice the game for us. They were big, and when we did miss we were often able to get the rebound and give ourselves another shot at a basket.”
This week, just one game tonight with Round Mountain, to be followed on Tuesday with a likely very tough Spring Mountain team. Pahranagat has lost the last five meetings with Spring including a close 46-44 game last year.
In the girls game, Pahranagat started with a 17-1 run and never even tried to look back in beating Word of Life 60-22. Allyse Frehner and Madi Taylor led the girls with 12 points each.
High scorer for Word of Life (0-4, 0-1) was junior Arieyanna Banks with 11 points.