High school girls basketball: Panguitch earns shot at third straight championship
RICHFIELD — They may not have played their best game yet, but the Panguitch Bobcats dedication to defense earned them a shot at a third straight 1A championship.
“We’re still waiting for the best offensive game,” said Panguitch head coach Curtis Barney after the Bobcats earned a semifinal win over Monticello 52-20. “If we’d have made the outside shots tonight, we’d have had the total package.”
The beauty of the Bobcats is that they don’t need a perfect offensive game to win because their priority is stopping their opponents.
“When you get into tournaments, it’s all about defense,” Barney said. “You all of a sudden see the scores drop about 20 points from what they were in the regular season. So, defense gets it done.”
The top-ranked Bobcats put on a defensive clinic against the fourth-ranked Buckaroos — holding them to just two points in the first quarter. The Buckaroos were led by Atlanta Black, who finished with 10 points.
“The girls were spot on tonight with what they did,” he said. “We didn’t shoot particularly well from the outside, but our defense caused plenty of trouble. We didn’t give them any good looks, everything was contested and it was usually just one shot and out. We feel really good about where our defense is right now.”
Forward Chesney Campbell said the Bobcats have struggled offensively as opponents have tried a variety of defensive strategies to stop them. The most effective way to deal with them, she said, is for her and her teammates to keep communicating.
“I think we talked more tonight that we ever have before, and that really helped us out,” said Chesney, who led all scorers with 20 points. “I think we just get caught up in the moment and forget to talk.”
Barney said he believes the Bobcats have improved each game at the state tournament. He said near the end of the season, teams were trying a lot of unusual ways to try and slow the Bobcats’ prolific offense.
“With them junk defenses, we were all a little frustrated,” Barney said. “But we’re starting to feel better. Tomorrow night it’s anything goes. Throw it all out there and the best team wins.”
Both Barney and Campbell said losing to region rival Bryce Valley in the second half of region play turned out to be a positive thing.
“I think it made us think we can get beat, and we need to play our game, we need to play tough,” Campbell said. “And if we’re not making our outside shots, we need to try to work it in.”
Barney said he believes second-ranked Duchesne and Panguitch have a lot in common.
“We match up similarly,” he said. “We’re similar in style, in size, in quickness, so it ought to be a pretty good matchup tomorrow night.”
Barney said he knows Duchesne head coach well from his days as Bryce Valley’s boys coach.
“He’s a real good guy,” Barney said. “But tomorrow night, we’ll be competitors.”
The 1A championship game is at 5 p.m. with the third/fourth place game featuring Monticello and Bryce Valley scheduled for 3 p.m. Rich will play Valley at 1:30 p.m. for fifth/seventh place, while Piute and Milford will clash for sixth/eighth place at noon.