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High school girls' basketball: Panguitch blows past Rich, advances to 1A semifinals

RICHFIELD — The last time the Panguitch girls basketball team lost a game, it came in the first round of the 1A state tournament at the hands of Rich.

Now, two undefeated seasons and 52 straight wins later, the top-ranked Bobcats weren’t about to let No. 2 Rich abruptly end its season for the second time in three years as it dominated its competition en route to a 75-32 quarterfinal victory Thursday night at the Sevier Valley Center.

“We are just really excited to get to this point and move on. We can’t wait to see how far we can actually go,” senior guard Catania Holman said. “We were thinking that we were going to face them again, so we were preparing all week to get ready to play them again. I’m really glad that we could come out like we did and beat them again.”

Panguitch wasted no time getting going as it opened the game on a 13-0 run and jumped out to a commanding 17-3 lead after the first quarter behind its suffocating defense, extremely balanced scoring attack and precision passing.

The Bobcats kept their pedal to the metal in the second quarter and extended their lead to a staggering 26 points at the break as they ended the half on a 14-2 run to take complete control and push all the pressure on the Rebels.

“We just wanted to come in, play extremely hard and keep focused the whole time,” star forward Darri Frandsen said. “And we knew that if we got ahead big like we did, we can’t let up or give them any type of break.”

Rich eventually began to find some offense behind senior guard Abby Whatcott’s team-high 14 points and eventually brought the score to within 23 points before the defending champs put the game away.

Panguitch quickly responded with a dominant 14-2 run to open the fourth quarter and outscored the Rebels 16-6 to cruise to the double-digit win.

Four of the Bobcats’ six scorers reached double figures, led by Frandsen’s and Chesney Champbell’s game-high 17 points, while guard Whittni Orton and junior forward Taylor Bennett combined for 26 points and five treys to propel their team to an impressive 52-game winning streak.

“I think it’s awesome (to extend our winning streak),” added Frandsen. “It’s super fun to play and go for it with this good group of girls; it’s just super fun to be a part of this.”

With the win, Panguitch advances to the 1A semifinals where it will take on No. 4 Valley. The Bobcats easily knocked off the Buffaloes in all three contests earlier this season and will look to get one more before looking for a second straight state title and back-to-back undefeated seasons.

Ryan Love is a full-time student at the University of Utah studying communications and has been a part-time sportswriter and scoreboarder for the Deseret News since October 2012.

Follow him on Twitter @RLove7724