Pahranagat Valley’s boys basketball team built an 18-point lead by the end of the first quarter and cruised to a 68-29 victory over Owyhee in the Class 1A state semifinals Friday at Durango.
Junior Culen Highbe had 21 points to lead the Panthers (25-2), who meet Mineral County (25-5) in the title game at 8:10 p.m. Saturday at Cox Pavilion.
Pahranagat Valley last won a state title in 2013.
“Hopefully we’ve got some rested legs,” Pahraganat Valley coach Mike Strong said. “I think at this time of year and if you’re in a tournament, if you can get some rested legs that’s a positive. That’s a big thing for us that we were able to rest some kids.”
Senior Trevor Shaw led Owyhee with 14 points.
Tabor Maxwell added 10 points, and Christian Higbee, Tyson Jorgensen and Cody Williams had eight points apiece for the Panthers, who led 40-20 at halftime.
Pahranagat Valley will carry a nine-game winning streak into the final. The Panthers and Mineral County did not meet during the regular season.
“They’re a complete ball team and it’s what we’ve seen,” Strong said. “I expect a really tough ball game. I hope we’re in it and I hope we can play with them a little bit.”
Mineral County 66, Spring Mountain 65 — Robert McFalls had 25 points, and his last point was the game winner, as his free throw breezed through the net with eight seconds remaining to give the Serpents a win over Spring Mountain in the state semifinals.
McFalls tied the game on a layup before his coach called a timeout to set up his and-1 opportunity to take the lead.
“When they called the timeout I was worried because I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to make it. I felt like crying,” he said.
McFalls was 10-for-13 from the foul line Friday.
“When it went in, relief went through me. I was just so happy,” McFalls said.
The Golden Eagles (14-12) trailed by 11 points in the third quarter but stormed back in the final quarter to take a 62-60 lead.
Kamari Kelly had 26 points, and Jaylon McKenzie added 20 points to lead the Golden Eagles. Spring Mountain had a chance to steal the victory, but a long shot from Kelly fell short as time expired.
Serpents coach Pete Summerbell was pleased to see how his team responded in the final quarter where they were outscored 22-14.
“They went into that zone defense and slowed us down and took some of our momentum,” he said. “But we came back when we had to. Things got tough for a while and flattened out for a bit. They’re a good team but we persevered today.”
McFalls wasn’t ready to celebrate right after making his winning basket.
“(Kelly) was draining 3s all day, so I was scared he might pull up another one,” he said. “When he missed, I was just shocked and relieved I made my shot.”
Contact reporter Bill Slane at email@example.com or 702-380-4559. Follow @bill_slane on Twitter.