Pahranagat Valley basketball opened the season with a traditional appearance at the Wells Rural Electric Cooperative tournament Dec. 5-7.

The boys did rather well, going 3-1, but coach Michael Strong said he was a bit concerned the first game with Jackpot was a 55-28 loss. “We couldn’t score. We had a tough time hitting baskets. Didn’t shoot the ball well, only 29 percent, and defensively I felt our rotations weren’t very good.” 

Preston Higbee led the Panthers with 13 points.

The Jaguars’ Steve Rodriguez had 24 points to lead Jackpot (4-1), who won all their games at the Wells tournament. “They are going to be a good team this year,” Strong said. “They will be one of the better teams and I expect to see them in the Region II playoffs. We will match up the teams the East league at that time.”

In the next games, the Panthers showed a good second half in each one. A 51-35 win over the Elko JVs, 55-38 over Wells and 40-29 over Owyhee.

“We looked more comfortable in these games. Our defense was much better and that’s what we stressed throughout the weekend, being a defensive-minded team first and then the offense will come.”

Ira Bowman led the Panthers with 19 points against Elko and Higbee was right behind with 15.

Against Wells, the second half was fairly even in scoring for both teams, but the Panthers built a 27-8 first-half lead and held the Leopards at arm’s length in the second half. “But we did turn the ball over too much in the third quarter and gave them some easy layups,” Strong said. 

Bowman led the team with 25 points. Paul Lewis had nine.

The final game was a win over Owyhee. “We scored 18 in the third quarter,” Strong said, “almost half our points there.” 

Jamison Miller was high-point man with 14. Bowman added nine points.

Strong said he was very pleased with the way the team bounced back after a poor showing against Jackpot “and showed that we can put up some points [and] are capable of shooting the ball.”

On Dec. 12-14, the Panthers, both boys and girls teams, play in the Comstock Classic in Virginia City. The boys have games scheduled with Virginia City, defending state champion Mineral County, Coleville and Sierra Lutheran.

On the girls’ side, the Lady Panthers lost 44-21 to Wells and 47-18 to Owyhee. They are also scheduled to play Coleville and Sierra Lutheran at the Comstock Classic and against two to be determined.