Veteran Pahranagat Valley girls varsity basketball coach Amy Huntsman has begun her 25th year coaching the Lady Panthers. Huntsman has a record 14 state titles and a career record of 503-160.

Pahranagat Valley High School (PVHS) begins the season as the defending Class 1A state champion.

On the boys’ side, second-year coach Michael Strong, a player himself on the Panthers’ 2006 state title team, welcomed back only two starters from the team that made it to the state semifinals last year.

Both the boys and girls have been practicing this week, finalizing their varsity and JV rosters.

Coach Strong expects seniors Stockton Maxwell, Kyler Martin, and junior Preston Higbee to be his top players. Junior John Hansen and seniors Ryan Jorgensen, Logan Lee, and Isbiel Riera are expected to see quite a bit of playing time as well. Freshman Paul Lewis may also contribute considerably to the Panthers.

Strong said, “We are excited for this year. Admittedly, only three of our seniors saw significant minutes on varsity last year, but we look to gain experience through our pre-season schedule so that, when league play starts up, we will be ready to go. Our goal, as always, is to continue to build off our success from last year and take that next step.”

He expects Word of Life and defending state champion Spring Mountain to field strong boys teams this year.

Though the Lady Panthers were 22-3 last year, Coach Huntsman lost league MVP Karley Whipple to graduation. As such, Huntsman has five returning letter winners, but only one starter, senior Morgan Harris.

She said, “We are expecting to be in the mix again as one of the top 1A girl teams in the state.”

The 1A Southern League has changed somewhat after the creation of the new Central League. Tonopah and Round Mountain, both long-time members of the Southern League, were moved to the Central League.

Green Valley of Henderson’s boys and girls teams, and Liberty Baptist of Las Vegas’ boys basketball team, have joined the Southern League this year.

The season begins for both the Panther teams at the Wells Rural Electric Company tournament, Nov. 29-Dec. 1.

Teams expected to participate include Pahranagat Valley, Eureka, Elko Junior Varsity, Jackpot, McDermitt, and Wells.

The following week, both Panther teams will participate in the Comstock Classic in Virginia City, Dec. 6-8.

Then, on Dec. 13, the Wells Leopards will come to town for Varsity and Junior Varsity games. If the Panther girls don’t play Wells in the season- opening WREC tournament, then this game might well be the rematch between the two state finalists from last year.

Closing out the year, both PVHS teams have non-league games with Lincoln County, Moapa Valley, and Lake Mead.