First-year coach Michael Strong at Pahranagat Valley High says, “It is one big learning experience. I try to learn something new every day. Things like when to call a timeout, when not to call a timeout, learning more about the players and who can do what. I think we are starting to settle down and have selected our usual starting five: Preston Higbee, Stockton Maxwell, Brodey Maxwell, Richard Lewis, and Culen Higbee.”

He explained Higbee is the point guard;  Stockton is the shooting guard; small forward is Brodey; power forward is Richard, and the center is Culen.

“Preston is really good on the ball, takes care of it well,  a person you need on the floor and able to get us into the offenses we want to run. Nice to have a sophomore in that position to build for the future. Stockton is a good shooter and rebounder. Brodey is a great defender and quick to the basket with the ball. Richard is playing more aggressive this year and we need him to be even more aggressive offensively. Culen, at 6 feet 9 inches, is being double-teamed a lot with teams focusing on taking him away. Our guards are not as experienced yet on how to get the ball into him and as the season goes along the guards will learn better how to enter the ball into the post in different ways. We are working on ways to do that more effectively.”

The Panthers are 8-2 at the Christmas break having won their last five straight.

They played at Lincoln County Dec. 19 and pulled out an exciting come from behind 53-51 win in the only meeting of the season between the teams.

Strong said, “We’re at our best when we are in transition, flying up and down the floor and not setting up an offense.”

Trailing by 11 points in the fourth quarter,  Strong said, “strengthening the defense and creating transition baskets off a trap or turnover” was what turned momentum toward Pahranagat to get the win at Lincoln. Highbe even had a breakaway slam dunk to the roaring delight of the PVHS fans in attendance. He and Brodey Maxwell led the team with 11 points each. Richard Lewis added 10.

For Lincoln, Alex Vincent had 12 points and Kobe Walker tallied 13.

On Saturday, the Pahranagat boys and girls will host Lake Mead Academy. The boys will play at home again against Virgin Valley Jan. 4, then both the boys and girls teams will play at Mountain View Jan. 5.