RICHFIELD — For anyone who believes in the timeworn cliche that, "Defense wins championships," Panguitch's performance in the 1A girls basketball quarterfinals was for you.
Matched up against Altamont and 1A leading scorer Whitney Fieldsted, the Bobcats knew they needed to focus at the defensive end to be able to beat the Longhorns.
In the final analysis, that's precisely what Panguitch did.
Putting on a defensive clinic from start to finish, the Bobcats stifled Altamont at every turn. And at the other end of the floor, they did just enough to slowly but surely build up enough of a lead.
"We tried to concentrate on (Fieldsted) tonight, and I think they probably did the same with their zone — they wanted to stop the Norris girl — and so it made for an interesting matchup," said Panguitch coach Curtis Barney. "We wanted to make sure we touched it in the post, and we stayed real patient, taking a lot of time off the clock and just methodically built us up a big enough lead.
"I was just tickled with the effort," Barney added, "and they shot the free throws well down the stretch when they had to."
Leading 26-21 at the end of the third quarter, Panguitch got the separation it craved early in the fourth. The Bobcats pushed their advantage out to near double-digits and then held on the rest of the way.
Norris scored five of Panguitch's 11 points in the fourth, and the Bobcats were 5-of-7 from the free-throw line in the period.
"They did a great job of executing down the stretch," said Barney. "The last five minutes, I told them, 'All but two shots we took we did everything right.'"
That assessment included Panguitch's effort on defense.
As was the case throughout, the Bobcats did an outstanding job late of keeping the ball out of Fieldsted's hands.
The star Altamont junior did finish with a team-high 13 points, but Panguitch was largely successful in collapsing on her every time the Longhorns tried to get her involved.
"We needed to stop Whitney, No. 40," said Norris. "She was their best player, and we knew that from the start. So pretty much we collapsed on her and just hustled. … We tried to not even let it get into her because if it got into her, she had a chance.
"That," Norris added, "worked pretty well."
Pretty well indeed.
"We thought if we could keep her under 15 points or so we'd have a pretty good chance to win," said Barney. "Keep the score low, which it was, and not let her get off. We made sure we were wherever she was."
Complete recaps of the other three quarterfinal games can be found at deseretnews.com