There’s a new head coach for the boy’s team, but he’s a familiar name the players all know.
Looking at the 2017-18 campaign, Michael Strong, Jr. takes the reins from his father. The younger Strong, who played for his father on Pahranagat’s 2006 championship team, has been the assistant coach for the past three years.
The Panther boys were 24-3 in 2016, losing to Mineral County in the state championship game.
Amy Huntsman begins her 23rd season as head coach. The girls were 17-9 and lost to Owyhee in the state semifinal game.
The boys and girls have the same schedule to open the new season. Both are playing in the Wells Rural Electric tournament Nov. 30-Dec. 2 and in the Comstock Classic in Virginia City Dec. 7-9.
After that, both teams play Wells again, but the boys will go to Wells on Dec. 15, while the Leopard girls come to Alamo on Dec. 14. The Lady Panthers have lost three of the last four games with Wells including two last year, once in the WREC tournament and then two weeks later in Alamo.
Meanwhile, the Panther boys have won the last four meetings with Wells, including a 51-17 blowout last year at the WREC tournament, holding the Leopards to no more than seven points in any quarter.
Just before the Christmas holiday break, the Panther teams play at Lincoln County in Panaca on Dec. 19.
Fitting into basketball mode will be a quick turnaround for both teams, as has become nearly an annual tradition, with players finishing up volleyball or football and basketball practice beginning the following Monday, only a few days in between. It has been that way for the girls the past 23 years in a row, and for the boys for the last 10, and 15 of the last 16 years. The only year the football team missed the state finals was in 2007. The basketball players that year got a week’s extra practice before the season started.
The first home game for the PHVS teams is not until Dec. 30, hosting Lake Mead Christian.
Pahranagat boys were runners-up in the league last year to Spring Mountain but later beat the Eagles for the league tournament title. Meanwhile, Amy Huntsman’s girl’s team are the defending league and tournament champions.
The boy’s team has a game with league newcomer Liberty Baptist this year on Jan. 19 in Alamo, but the Knights are apparently not fielding a girls basketball team, although they did have a volleyball team. There is no game with them on the PVHS girls schedule.
Another interesting non-league affair for both boys and girls will be Jan. 26 at SLAM Academy in Henderson, an independent school in just its second season that mostly plays at the 2A level. It will be the first meeting of the two teams.
Both the Panther boys and girls team close out the regular season on Feb.10 at White Pine, a tuneup for the 1A Southern League tournament that begins Feb. 14.