High school boys basketball: Panguitch takes home 1A boys trophy
The Panguitch High School boys basketball team was able to earn its ninth overall state title Saturday night in a 58-46 battle with rival Piute.
The game came after a year of reflecting on the same matchup with the opposite result during last season’s finale.
“Last year stung,” Panguitch coach Clint Barney said. “We came in as the top seed and the overwhelming favorite and Piute beat us.”
In that game, Piute took a 49-42 upset win.
“I told the boys in the locker room that I’ve had a bad taste in my mouth for a year now, and I’m ready to get rid of it,” Barney said. “I think they did too. They were playing with a purpose tonight.”
Panguitch established a lead early, but just as the Bobcats would start to pull away, Piute would make key shots, such as two 3-pointers by Jaxon Westwood in the first period.
Brooks Dalton led Piute’s offensive effort through the night with 13 points.
Panguitch maintained a five point lead through most of the game, but Piute was still well within striking distance.
“It really came down to getting some defensive stops in that second half,” Barney said. “Piute has been able to take us off the dribble … I felt at halftime they were getting easier shots than we were, and that had me pretty nervous.”
While they had a 44-39 edge, Panguitch’s boys had to step up their defense in the final eight minutes to prevent a possible rally by the Thunderbirds.
“I felt defensively we played better in the fourth quarter than we did the entire rest of the game and that was the difference,” Barney said. “We got some defensive stops and some big rebounds.”
Panguitch held Piute to just two shots from the field in the final stanza, both from Kole Westwood. Meanwhile the Bobcats were able to score 14 more points to put the game to bed.
This is Barney’s fourth championship as coach, and Panguitch’s seventh consecutive appearance in the final game of the season.
“That consistency says something about the kids and the program,” Barney said. “I’ve never had a harder working group of kids, and that’s a credit to those seniors. This doesn’t come just because you’re talented. That helps, but you’ve got to work every day in practice, get yourself in shape and go through the trials.”
Part of those trials was setting up a tougher pre-region season than in previous years against larger schools, according to Barney.
“PIute came out ready to play, but we came out harder,” said Panguitch’s Klyn Fullmer. “We had to stay focused and motivated every day. This is a great community, we all love each other and this is awesome.”
Fullmer ended the night as the game’s top scoring player with 14 points and six rebounds.
“It was a fun win,” Panguitch’s Tucker Chappell said. “I’m just happy we’re here. I’m happy to be a part of it.”
Chappell added 12 points to Panguitch’s tally, and pulled down five boards.
“It was a lot of fun,” said Spencer Talbot, who led Panguitch in rebounding with 10. “We were ready to win one. We got it done. I’ll cherish these guys forever.”
Piute’s senior class includes Konnor Henrie, Justis Savage, Shae Miller, Chappell, Fullmer and Talbot.
This year’s tournament was hosted at the Sevier Valley Center in Richfield.
MVP — Klyn Fullmer, Panguitch
Spencer Talbot, Panguitch
Tucker Chappell, Panguitch,
Cache Eyre, Panguitch,
Brooks Dalton, Piute