Class 1A Boys: Panthers take advantage of size, roll into final

Pahranagat Valley boys basketball coach Michael Strong knows he has something most Class 1A teams can only dream of: multiple big men.

The Panthers used that size to their advantage on Friday, rolling to a 58-28 win over Sandy Valley in the Class 1A Southern League semifinals at Basic.

“It’s nice to have that size,” Strong said. “In the 1A you don’t see that a lot. And it makes me look like a really good coach.”

Richard Lewis, a 6-foot-5-inch senior, had 16 points, six rebounds and three blocks, and 6-9 senior Culen Highbe added 14 points and a pair of blocks.

Add in 6-6 junior Kyler Martin, who had six points and nine rebounds off the bench, and its easy see why Pahranagat Valley (23-3) is a matchup nightmare in its class.

“It’s been really fun to have that size this year,” Strong said. “We’re going to miss it when it graduates. It’s our biggest advantage that we have over almost anybody we play.”

The Panthers used that advantage early by pounding the ball in to Highbe time and again in the first quarter. He had seven points in the quarter to help Pahranagat Valley to the early advantage.

Lewis took over in the second quarter, scoring 10 points and helping the Panthers extend their lead to 30-18 at the break.

Stockton Maxwell added eight points and five rebounds for Pahranagat Valley, which plays Spring Mountain (22-4) in the title game at 2 p.m. on Saturday at Basic. Both teams have clinched a spot in next week’s state tournament.

“These kids work just as hard as anyone else,” Strong said. “For them, it’s awesome to put themselves in that position to be there. The kids deserve it, and I’m just really proud of them and how thye played. Hopefully we can take advantage of the opportunity, and we’re excited to play another week.”

Brandon Eastham led Sandy Valley (7-14) with 18 points.

Spring Mountain 71, Tonopah 32 — At Basic, Shawn Shumpert led four Golden Eagles players in double figures with 18 points as they rolled past the Muckers.

Ra’vaun Nibblett had 12 points and 13 rebounds, Damariyae Royal had 14 points and eight rebounds and Michael Johnson added 13 points and eight steals for Spring Mountain.

The Golden Eagles opened the game on an 18-4 run and never trailed.

Tonopah (15-10) got as close as 25-19 after a basket by Carlos Guerrero with 2 minutes, 35 seconds to go in the second quarter. But Shumpert scored the next seven points, and it was all Spring Mountain from there.

Alex Katzenbach led Tonopah with eight points and seven rebounds.

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