Higbee, Poulsen lift Panthers to league summit

The Pahranagat Valley boys basketball team has had its share of highs and lows this season.

“We haven’t played our best basketball yet,” coach Brian Higbee said. “We’ve had a tough schedule. To get to here, we’ve had some peaks and valleys.”

On Saturday, the Panthers reached the summit of the Division IV Southern League tournament.

Tyler Higbee and Austin Poulsen each scored 22 points as the Panthers pounced on Spring Mountain for a 51-36 victory in the championship game at Sunrise Mountain.

Both teams advanced to the state tournament, which begins Friday at Chaparral.

“It was a good win for us,” Brian Higbee said. “I thought our kids came out with some energy in the first half, and that set the tone for things. I thought we controlled the tempo.”

Despite shooting 32 percent (8-for-25) from the field in the first half, Pahranagat Valley (13-11) established a 23-13 lead at the break.

However, that cushion lost some comfort in the third quarter. Kenyon McNair’s successful jumper at the buzzer cut the Eagles’ deficit to 33-26 heading into the fourth quarter. But Tyler Higbee and Poulsen knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers to start a 12-2 run with 6:09 remaining that put the game out of reach.

“It was huge for us,” Brian Higbee said. “There was a time there where they had the momentum, and we had to break it up. Tyler hit a big shot, and Poulsen hit a big shot, and that kind of slowed their tempo down. That was key for us.”

Tyler Higbee hit 12 of 14 free throws, including seven in the fourth quarter.

“That was huge,” Brian Higbee said. “Free throws win and lose basketball games. We hit them, and they didn’t.”

Spring Mountain (16-8) struggled by going 11-for-21 from the line.

Roemello Tatum and Develle Williams each scored 10 points for the Eagles.

Contact reporter John W. Scafetta at or 702-383-0430.

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