Dave Maxwell
Jessica Brede of Pahranagat and Jerzi Isom of Mineral County fight for a loose ball in their recent game. Mineral County won 61-40.

A date with the defending state champions, especially when they still have a strong team, is no enviable task.

The Pahranagat Valley Lady Panthers had that task last week when they hosted the Mineral County Serpents.

Perla Gutierrez showed why she is the state scoring leader in the 1A girls as she hit for 27 points, leading Mineral County to a 61-40 win over Pahranagat Valley.

The teams had played one another about three weeks ago at the Comstock Classic in Virginia City, when the Serpents won 55-25. Gutierrez also led the way then with 16 points.

However, the Lady Panthers played a little tougher this time around. Coach Amy Huntsman said prior to the first meeting, “We’d only had about six actual practices. Played a few games, but had not really had full practices with all of our players present. We’re still growing, still not ready, but we have potential to get there.”

Gutierrez was the main force on the floor. Her quickness and ability to drive down the lane for a layup was obvious, as most all her points came on layups. She had 16 of her points in the first half alone.

Mineral County had a 17-7 first-quarter lead and stretched that lead to 31-20 by halftime. After a 22-point third quarter, the team was locked in for the win.

Jerzi Isom scored 10 points for the Serpents and Jayla Toliver added 13.

Pahranagat had eight players in the scoring column, none with double figures. The high-point scorer was Taylor Higbee with eight. Pahranagat was 7-for-11 at the foul line. Mineral County was 14-of 24.

Pahranagat (2-7) had a game at Moapa Valley Jan. 6. The girls will play two-time defending 2A champion White Pine in Ely Jan. 14. The Lady Panthers’ first league game will be Jan. 24 when they host Green Valley Christian. Huntsman said she feels the team will be ready for league action and will do well there.

The Lady Panthers are the three-time defending league champions, but lost to Tonopah in the first round of the Region II tournament last year.