RENO — For three quarters Friday, even Pahranagat Valley’s harshest critic would have trouble finding something the Panthers did wrong.
Maybe a couple of missed shots or even a stray turnover.
Other than that, the Panthers were awfully close to perfect in building a 43-15 lead over Eureka in a Class 1A girls basketball semifinal at UNR’s Lawlor Events Center.
The Panthers backed off the gas a bit and settled for a 53-35 win, as well as a chance to defend their state title in today’s 11 a.m. final against Wells (23-6).
“We had a game plan, and the girls came out and executed it,” Pahranagat Valley coach Amy Huntsman said. “I only wish we would have done it for 32 minutes, but I’m proud of the girls. They did a really good job.”
Pahranagat Valley (25-4) held Eureka to 7 of 38 shooting and forced 23 turnovers in the first three quarters in putting the game beyond much doubt.
Offensively, the Panthers couldn't have been much more balanced.
Bailee Hosier tallied 14 points. Traci Strong and Kimberly Lewis each scored 10, and Halie Lewis added nine points.
“That’s always been a goal of mine, to get that balanced scoring,” Huntsman said. “If you can do that, you’re a lot harder to defend.”
By the time the Vandals (17-6) got anything going, it was too late.
Eureka made its first four shots of the fourth quarter, but never seriously threatened. The late push, though, gave Huntsman a few items to stress with her team.
“It’s frustrating when you get into a situation like that and the girls start getting stagnant, then they start getting nervous,” Huntsman said. “We had to get them settled down.”
Natalie Norcutt led Eureka with 16 points.
Wells 43, Beatty 25 — The Hornets’ first trip to state in 16 years ended in disappointment.
The Leopards used a 12-0 run to end the first half with a 23-10 lead and never looked back in earning a spot in the finals.
Beatty (11-5) struggled on offense for most of the game, committing 27 turnovers and making just 12 of 39 shots from the field.
“They struggled. It was probably nerves,” Beatty coach Aimee Senior said. “They were anxious.”
Kevyn Swabb led Wells with 20 points, and teammate Ericka Pengelly scored 16.
Christina Thompson and Melynda Gross each had six points for Beatty.