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DIVISION IV GIRLS: Defensive-minded Panthers rout Tonopah

Pahranagat Valley’s girls basketball team began the fourth quarter of Saturday’s Division IV Southern League championship game with only four players on the floor.

Twenty seconds later, Kalli Hosier crept off the bench and joined the play in progress.

It was just about the only thing the Panthers did wrong all day.

Pahranagat Valley played sharp defense and used an opportunistic offense to rout Tonopah, 54-29 in the league final at Sunrise Mountain. Both the Panthers (23-4) and Muckers (12-9) advance to next week’s state tournament in Reno.

“When I put back in a starter, Kalli just assumed that she was out,” said Pahranagat Valley coach Amy Huntsman, holding back a laugh. “It was just a miscommunication. Everybody was yelling ‘Four’ and I was like ‘No, we’ve got five.’ Then I realized we had four, and we couldn’t figure out who to put on.”

Pahranagat Valley, which won its sixth straight Southern League title, forced turnovers on each of the Muckers’ first six possessions of the game and never trailed.

After the Panthers took a 17-6 lead at the end of the first quarter, Tonopah never pulled within single digits, thanks in large part to a pressing defense that never seemed to let the Muckers get set.

Tonopah was just 13 of 45 from the field (28.9 percent) and committed 33 turnovers. Pahranagat Valley scored 25 points off Tonopah turnovers.

“We’ve been working really hard on defense,” Huntsman said. “A lot of times when you play good defense, that’s your first offense. We like to push the ball. We’ve got some speed this year.”

Traci Strong had 18 points, and Kimberly Lewis scored 17 for Pahranagat Valley. Bailee Hosier added 10 points, and 5-foot-6-inch senior forward Kennedy Huntsman grabbed 15 rebounds for the Panthers.

“She usually gets pretty good position, but these last couple weeks she and I have talked about this being the end,” coach Huntsman said of her daughter. “She’s decided that she’s not just going to let things happen. She’s going to make things happen.”

Julia Klapper and Sydney Gray each had 10 points for Tonopah.

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