Courtesy photo
The Mineral County boys will play Eureka at the Cox Pavilion at 2 p.m. on Thursday in the first round of the 1A state tournament.

Mineral County, the two-time defending Class 1A state boys basketball champions, lost a close one in the final of the Central League playoffs at Tonopah High School. A last second shot that didn’t go in gave Pahranagat Valley a very close and thrilling 43- 42 win over the Serpents.

Dave Maxwell
Tucker Johnson tries to block the shot of Pahranagat Valley’s Paul Lewis in the Central League tournament championship game last Saturday at Tonopah High

Both teams advance to the state tournament this weekend Feb. 24-26 in Las Vegas. The first round on Thursday, will be at the Cox Pavilion next to Thomas and Mack Arena on the UNLV campus. The Friday semifinals are to be played at Chaparral High School and the championship finals move back to the Cox Pavilion at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday.

Mineral County coach Pete Summerbell recapped the tournament by saying even though they may have lost the No. 1 seed to state this year, it will mark the sixth straight year the Serpents have made it to the state tourney.

In the first game, the boys defeated Lund 60-42, avenging a loss to the Mustangs just two weeks earlier that knocked them out of the top spot in the league.

Andre White led the serpents with 16 points, 13 rebounds, 6 assists, and 6 steals. DeVayne Isom had 14 points with 6 assists and 3 steals. Issac Torres added 11 points. Jaevaun Jones came off the bench and had 8 points and grabbed 5 rebounds. The Serpents opened up the first quarter with a 16-7 lead and never looked back.

Meanwhile, Pahranagat Valley in the other semifinal game beat Beatty 58-39.

On Saturday, the Serpents were matched up with the Alamo Panthers for the divisional championship, and to determine the No. 1 and 2 seeds to represent the Central League in the State Basketball Championships in Las Vegas.

It was a terrific game that came down to the final seconds as Alamo came away with a 43-42 victory. Andre White led the crew with 14 points. DeVayne Isom had 11 points and Isaac Torres had 8 points. Summerbell said, “This was the third time the two teams have met and the total difference in all 3 games has been two points.”

“The boys played great defense against the much bigger Alamo squad,” he said, “but we had 3 starters foul out.“The bench played very well and had the final shot to win the game, but it just came up a little short.”

He added, “The Serpents are ready to defend as two-time state champs and third in four years.”

But it will be tough as other coaches have commented the Class 1A state tournament is “stacked this year.”

The Serpents (15-7) will face the Eureka Vandals (15-5) at 2 p.m. Thursday at Cox Pavilion in Las Vegas in the quarter finals.

Mineral County had an 18-14 lead at halftime in the league championship game over Pahranagat Valley in a low scoring game at that point.

But in the second half, the Panthers began to go more and more to the inside post game using Roger Wilson and Kobi Fiatoa to build a 33-25 lead midway through the fourth quarter.

But the Serpents fought back and used a 14-9 run in the fourth quarter outscoring the Panthers 17-10 in the final period and taking a 39-37 lead with a long outside three-point shot at 5:10 remaining.

Like jungle cats, Pahranagat fought back and regained the lead 41-39, shortly after on an inside put back by Wilson or Fiatoa. Jaren Leavitt made one of two free throws to make the score 42-39 with 2:40 remaining. The Serpents DeVayne Isom tied the score at 42 all at 1:39 with a nice three-point shot. However, Neither team could score again until Fiatoa was fouled underneath by Tucker Johnson with 18 seconds left.

Pahranagat was not good at the foul line, only 7-for-26 at the foul line in the game, but Fiatoa, who finished the game with 18 points, made the one that counted the most and gave the Panthers the 43-42 lead. A final shot by the Serpents bounced off the rim and into the hands of Leavitt who just ran out the clock.

This then set up the third meeting of their games this season, the socalled Rubber game. And proved to be as exciting as anyone could want. The Serpents came out quickly and pressed the Panthers with both zone and man-to-man defenses.

Final score was 43-42 in favor of the Panthers, but the Serpents made a real good game of it. It was the closest game with PVHS since a 61-59 loss to them in 2010.

The Panthers started quickly, taking a 9-4 first quarter lead, but the tough and aggressive Serpents outscored the Panthers 14-5 in the second quarter to lead at the half-time break in a low scoring affair of 18-14. Andre White got 10 of his team high 16 points in that second quarter.

Quick and scrappy little guard Isaac Torres was held to only six points and Isom had 8 points.

Mineral County (15-7) will now go into the state tourney as the No. 2 seed from the Central League and play Eureka (15-5) at 2 p.m. at the Cox Pavilion on the UNLV campus.

Eureka had upset the East League leader Owyhee 74-52 in their regional championship. to get the No. 1 from the East League.Pahranagat Valley (23-4), plays Owyhee (14-6) at 8 p.m. on Thursday at the Cox Pavilion.