Panguitch took the first step toward defending its boys 1A state championship Wednesday as the Bobcats claimed an 83-46 win over Wendover as the tournament started in earnest.
While it make look like smooth sailing for the rest of the week, Panguitch head coach Clint Barney said the Bobcats aren’t taking anything for granted.
“The old cliche of taking it one game at a time, that’s all you can do,” Barney said. “You got to worry about your opponent today and go out and play as hard as you can.”
The Bobcats headed into this year’s tourney with a 23-1 record, making them the top seed among 1A schools. Panguitch earned a bye for the play-in round and hadn’t played since the Region 20 tournament, which was 10 days prior to Wednesday’s game.
“I think the kids came out and played pretty well,” Barney said.
Klyn Fullmer and Kylar Bennet lead a balanced scoring attack for Panguitch, both racking up 14 points. Tucker Chappell added 13 points to Panguitch’s total, followed by Paxton Wolfley with 12. In all, 11 of Panguitch’s players put points on the board.
Wendover’s Shawn Deboise led all scoring players with 16, while teammate Raudel Munoz posted 10.
“We usually don’t give up that many points, but it was an up tempo style game,” Barney said. “It was a good game to come and get the jitters out. Wendover battled hard.”
Panguitch set the tone early, building up a 21-6 edge in the first eight minutes of play.
Munoz and Orlando Alvarez both hit 3-pointers as the second quarter began, pulling Wendover to within nine points. That was as close as the Wildcats would get to Panguitch through the duration of the game.
Panguitch’s boys are now focusing on the next step in the tournament, a game against region foe Valley set for the 7 p.m. slot Thursday at the Sevier Valley Center in Richfield. Valley took down Monticello in 34-27 Wednesday.
“Hopefully you advance to the next day and then worry about that opponent, but you can’t look forward to Friday or Saturday until you take care of Wednesday and Thursday,” Barney said. “You’ve got to bring your best every night.”
Seeing a fellow Region 20 team is something Barney said he expected heading into the tournament.
“Since they went to RPI, I think the strength of Region 20 shows,” Barney said. “You’re going to have five or six teams from it in the quarterfinals, but regardless if it’s a region opponent or not, we just have to come out and play our hardest.”