This season turned out to be a surprising one for the Pahranagat Valley Panther boys basketball team and the three seniors led by starters Preston Higbee, John Hansen and substitute Cody Hatch.
The boys rebounded from finishing third in the Southern League by winning the South-Central regional tournament over No. 1 seed and rival Spring Mountain, moving on to the state tournament and coming in second behind defending champion Mineral County.
Coach Michael Strong believes a 20-10 record for the year is a mark of good things to come. “We’re not going anywhere anytime soon. I like the kids we have coming back and coming up through the program.”
At the NIAA / One Nevada State Championships last week in Reno, on Thursday at Wooster High School, junior Ira Bowman poured in 25 points including 24 in the second half to spark PVHS to a 58-49 victory over Sierra Lutheran in the semifinals. Higbee added 14 points as the team played a solid game.
But the Falcons made them work for it, trailing only 36-33 going into the fourth quarter. Pahranagat used the final eight minutes to score 22 points and secure the victory.
Still, Sierra Lutheran closed within 46-43 with 2:59 remaining. In those final minutes, the Panthers were 8-of-12 at the foul line to hold on and move to finals the following night against Mineral County.
In the other semifinal, Mineral County came back from behind against Owyhee, defeating the Braves 60-40.
On Friday night at the Lawlor Events Center at UNR, it wasn’t a good outing for the Pahranagat boys. Behind Mineral County 13-5 at the end of the first quarter and 26-15 at halftime, they just couldn’t catch up to the strong, aggressive Serpents team who came into the game on a 15-game win streak and successfully defended their championship with a 50-38 victory.
Three Mineral County players were in double figures; Treven Wachsmuth with 21, Seth Bozzi with 15 and Ethan with 10.
Higbee and Bowman were tops for Pahranagat Valley, both with 11 points.
The title is the third in the last four years for Mineral County, two of which have been against Pahranagat Valley, 2020 and 2018.