Only three players scored for the Pahranagat Valley boys basketball team in a 53-39 loss to Mineral County in Hawthorne Jan. 4.

Stockton Maxwell scored 22 points and Preston Higbee added 11.

The Serpents, who have been in the state finals the past two years, still have a talented and well-balanced team, getting 14 points each from Robert McFalls and Trevan Wachsmuch. Seven other players also scored for Mineral County.

John Hansen was the only other player who scored for Pahranagat Valley. He had six points. Coach Michael Strong said he thought this was Hansen’s best game of the season to date.

The Panthers had an 11-8 lead in the first quarter, but in the second quarter the Serpents began applying pressure and squeezing the Panthers with a python-like grip to outscore them 21-6 and take a 29-17 halftime lead.

Strong said Mineral County (10-1) “is a good team and when they  stepped up their defensive pressure in the second quarter, it got us a little more uncomfortable that way, pushing us out farther from the basket than we would like, and we just got a bit tired.”

Mineral County added more to the lead with a 13-9 margin in the third quarter.

Strong said he would rate Mineral County as the top team in Class 1A at the moment.

The Panthers just might see Mineral County again when the regional playoffs come around, as it will be it will be the Central League versus the Southern league, and Mineral County is in the Central.

PVHS (5-8) began league play this week, hosting Liberty Baptist (3-3) on Thursday. It has another non-league game at Virgin Valley Jan. 15.

Strong said he feels, “that the Southern league will be deeper than it normally is. Talking with other coaches, seems to be that the teams are pretty good.”

He added, “I’m excited to get the league started. Even though our record does not show it right now, we have learned a lot about ourselves as a team and are ready to get going in the games that really mean something. Time to step up to the plate and play the best that we can.”

The Panthers are the defending league tournament champions, having topped Spring Mountain last year for the No. 1 seed before losing to Mineral County in the state semifinals. Spring Mountain won the state championship last year.