It took the Pahranagat Valley boys basketball team 26 minutes, 45 seconds to claim its first lead in Saturday’s Division IV state final.
Once the Panthers had the advantage, though, they weren’t about to let it go.
Senior Austin Poulsen scored 23 points and had nine rebounds, and Pahranagat Valley rode a 10-0 run in the second half to a 48-45 victory over Virginia City at Orleans Arena, earning a fourth straight state championship for the Panthers (15-11).
“We felt like if we got over the hump we had a real good chance to beat them,” said Pahranagat Valley coach Brian Higbee, whose team trailed by 11 points late in the second quarter. “We got stronger defensively as the game went on, and I credit that to our senior leadership. I thought our experience really helped us down the stretch.”
Senior Tyler Higbee added 18 points for Pahranagat Valley, which made 10 3-pointers.
Jordan Popiela led Virginia City (23-8) with 16 points, and Quintin Allen added 15 points on 5-for-6 shooting from 3-point range. The Muckers shot 55 percent from the field in the first half and went ahead 38-32 on Popiela’s basket with 2:08 left in the third quarter.
But Virginia City was held scoreless for the next 8:40 as the Panthers rallied.
“We decided to pressure them a little more,” Poulsen said. “In the first half, they hit every shot. In the second half, we knew they wouldn’t be able to do that.”
Tyler Higbee’s two free throws with 5:15 remaining gave Pahranagat Valley its first lead at 40-38.
The Muckers got as close as 44-43 before Poulsen hit two free throws with 22 seconds left to put Pahranagat Valley up 47-43.
“We say every single day we have more experience than anybody in the country,” Poulsen said. “We kept calm, went out and executed.”