Pahranagat Valley guard Jamie Hansen didn’t see the court much in the second half because of foul trouble.
But the 5-foot-5-inch senior did more than enough damage in the opening two quarters.
Hansen scored 17 of her 19 points in the first half Saturday to build a 34-26 halftime lead, and the Panthers held on for a 57-49 win over Smith Valley to claim the Division IV girls state championship at Orleans Arena.
“It definitely set a path for us,” Hansen said. “We were on a roll, so we just kept going. We knew we couldn’t let up because we started out so strong. … This is definitely the perfect way (to go out).”
Hansen had six rebounds, two assists and two steals for the Panthers (17-10) before fouling out with 4:49 left.
“Jamie is an animal,” Panthers coach Amy Huntsman said. “I don’t even know how to explain what kind of kid she is. She’s such a leader, she’s so positive, and she never quits. She was so key to everything we did this year, keeping us focused and positive. We just knew if we needed something done, we could go to Jamie.”
Smith Valley outrebounded Pahranagat Valley 24-13 in the first half, but the Panthers forced 13 turnovers and held the Bulldogs to just 11-for-33 shooting from the field (33.3 percent) to take the 34-26 halftime lead.
Hansen had 11 of the team’s 19 points in the second quarter.
“We had to stop giving them second-chance shots,” Huntsman said. “They were just killing us on the boards. They just fought, and it was so fun to watch. Defense has been our key all year. We’re not very big, so you have to play to your strengths. And one of our strengths is our quickness and pressing.”
Pahranagat Valley forced 23 turnovers and held Smith Valley to 26.7 percent from the field for the game. The Panthers had their biggest lead, 54-39, with 4:41 to go.
But the Bulldogs made things interesting late with a 7-0 run to cut the deficit to 54-46 with just less than a minute to play, but the rally came too late.
Freshmen forwards Karley Whipple (12 points) and Madalyn Taylor (six points, four rebounds) made key contributions off the bench to help the Panthers, who were outrebounded 38-27.
“They were awesome,” Hunstman said. “They did a nice job. Whipple hasn’t played a lot all season. We got into foul trouble early with Alyson Egbert, so we went with some younger kids. These last two games, Madalyn Taylor has been so tough.”
Madison Harris had 11 points and 12 rebounds for Pahranagat Valley.
It was the 13th state title and fifth in the last six seasons for Huntsman, who has been at the school for 21 years.
“It feels really good,” she said. “Every one of them is special. It’s something that just never gets old. Just as good as the first one.”
Kellie Rogaczewski led Smith Valley with 15 points and 18 rebounds. Sandra Gomez added 11 points and 12 rebounds for the Bulldogs (28-3).
Contact reporter Ashton Ferguson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0430. Follow him on Twitter: @af_ferguson.