RENO – Live by the three, die by the three.
Missed shots from distance, turnovers and offensive rebounds by Pahranagat Valley for were too much to overcome for the Wells girls basketball team on Saturday during the 1A state championship at Lawlor Events Center.
On paper, a seven-to-one advantage on three-pointers would seem like a good situation, but that is not necessarily the case when the vast majority of attempts from the team on the high side of the comparison went nearly exclusively to chucking up shots from deep.
Wells fell in love with jumpers, and Pahranagat Valley took home the state trophy the old-fashioned way – booking deuces, dominating the glass and playing hard-nosed defense.
Pahranagat Valley shot 34 free throws — sinking 21 — Wells earning 20 freebies and draining 12.
The Lady Leopards opened the game with a turnover and a 10-second call, falling behind 4-0 with consecutive buckets by Pahranagat Valley senior Madalyn Taylor from the high post and the left wing.
The Lady Panthers were able to set up their press defense from scores, also causing major problems for Wells in half-court sets with up-close, man defense and help principles.
Wells finally scored with 5:15 on the clock, senior Amanda Murphy grabbing her own miss for a put-back.
She added a free throw at the 3:15 mark, pulling Wells to within one.
The next four points were booked by senior Lacey Steele for the Lady Panthers, knocking down a jumper from the short corner and finishing after a filthy pass on a penetration drive by senior Karley Whipple.
Senior Sammy Stumpf drilled a pull-up triple from the left wing for the Lady Leopards with 1:30 remaining in the frame – pulling Wells to within two at 8-6 – but Whipple drained a pair of free throws.
Junior Morgan Harris cashed a runner from the left side and opened a 12-6 lead, but Stumpf made a free throw to close the first.
The Lady Leopards scored four straight points to start the second – using a free throw by senior Keegan Laughlin and Stumpf’s second three on a dish from freshman Cameron Powers – slicing the deficit to one at 12-11 with 6:50 remaining in the half.
Wells drew a charge against Pahranagat Valley but wasted the chance to take the lead, and junior Sarah Back picked up a loose ball on the weak side for a finish for the Lady Panthers.
The Lady Leopards turned the ball over on back-to-back possessions with travels, and Whipple knocked down two freebies on consecutive trips to the line after another Wells turnover.
With three minutes remaining in the half, Murphy came up with a big bucket for Wells, sticking a runner and drawing the foul – sinking the free throw and cutting the lead back down to four.
Wells committed another traveling violation and then picked up a defensive foul when Whipple was leveled while setting a screen.
She drained both attempts at the stripe, but Stumpf’s third bomb from deep pulled the Lady Leopards to within three at 20-17.
To close the half, the Wells defense lost senior Gracie Carter for a baseline shot.
At the break, Wells trailed by five at 22-17.
Taylor opened the third quarter with a deuce for the Lady Panthers and a put-back by Carter, Wells traveling once again on its first possession.
Stumpf made two free throws, but Pahranagat Valley’s only three of the game was a big one – Whipple burying a contested triple from the right wing and opening a 10-point cushion of 29-19.
The momentum really swung in the Lady Panthers’ favor when the Lady Leopards were caught in a trap, passed out of trouble but attempted a layup on the wrong hoop.
The shot missed, but Harris grabbed the board and went up strong for an And-1.
Powers was fouled and made two freebies, but too many of Wells’ ensuing possessions resulted in misfires and airballs – most of which coming from distance.
Pahranagat Valley earned four or five chances at the bucket with rebound after rebound, Wells also losing the battle of 50-50 balls in the open floor – a step slow, the Lady Panthers active.
Stumpf trimmed the lead to seven with an And-1 bank on an aggressive move toward the rim, sinking the free throw with 2:55 on the clock.
Senior Madison Williams drained two free throws for the Lady Leopards – Stump sinking one – and Williams got a friendly bounce on a runner down the baseline.
Wells missed a shot on the baseline and rebounded the ball, but the four-foot attempt sailed two-feet over the rim.
Powers hammered a three and pulled Wells to within seven at 35-28 with one minute remaining in the third, but the Lady Leopards committed a silly foul in the backcourt that sent the Lady Panthers to the single-bonus.
To start the fourth, Wells had multiple looks at threes but missed all attempts and then misfired on the front end when the Lady Leopards went to the single-bonus.
Whipple was not stopped up high and drove through the defense for a finish on the left side.
Powers swished a three and sliced the lead to six at 37-31, but every time Wells made a push – Pahranagat Valley had an answer.
Whipple scored on the right block, followed by two technical free throws by Stumpf.
Nobody picked up Harris off the bounce, and she raced the length of the floor for a layup on the right side.
The Lady Panthers owned the glass, Steele grabbing an offensive board for an And-1 and the free throw.
Williams was fouled and canned two at the line, capping a 7-0 run.
Sophomore Jackie Berumen grabbed a rebound of her own and banked in a shot on the right block for the Lady Leopards, and Wells forced a turnover but gave the ball right back with an errant pass – Harris running the floor for a bunny.
Stumpf hit a pull-up jumper but the Lady Panthers scored the next five points from the charity stripe – stemming from offensive boards – Williams sinking three freebies and Carter dropping a pair.
Powers cut the lead to 13 with her third three, but Carter went to the line for a free throw and Back turned a steal into a layup.
Williams went back to the line and was automatic on both attempts, Powers hitting an inconsequential three – her fourth of the half – in the closing seconds.
Pahranagat Valley pulled away for a 58-43 victory and claimed the 1A girls state championship.
In the final game of her career, Stumpf scored a game-high 20 points in defeat – scoring 10 points in each half and burying all three of her 3s before the break.
Whipple led Pahranagat Valley with 15 points, hitting the team’s only three and cashing eight points from the stripe in the first half.
Powers scored all of her 14 points in the second half, 12 coming on four triples.
Stumpf and Powers scored 34 of Wells’ 43 points.
Williams finished with 11 points – all coming in the second half – nine coming at the line.
Harris scored eight points, and Steele and Carter each closed with seven for the Lady Panthers – Taylor adding six.
Murphy scored all six of her points in the first half for the Lady Leopards.
“We picked a bad time to play our worst game of the year. We had too many turnovers and gave up way too many offensive rebounds,” said Wells coach Enoch Dahl.
PAHRANAGAT VALLEY – 12 – 10 – 13 – 23 – 58 Total
WELLS – 7 – 10 – 11 – 15 – 43 Total
Congratulations to the Lady Panthers on their state championship and job well-done by coach Dahl and the Lady Leopards for reaching the state tournament for the first time since 2013 and playing in the state final for the first time since 2012.