Every basket seemed like life and death.
"It's blood and guts," Panguitch coach Clint Barney said. "This is it. This is what we do in the winter. "
It's not that Bryce Valley didn't try. The smaller underdogs, who had dropped two double-digit games to Panguitch earlier in the season, put a scare into the Bobcats early, leading 23-16 midway through the second quarter.
But it was at about that point that a light seemed to go on in Panguitch. The Bobcats went on a 21-2 run to turn what had been a thriller to a third double-digit win over Bryce Valley this season.
"The third quarter was the key to the ballgame," Barney said. "We are a good defensive team. That's what we focus on and what we want to be more than anything else. We struggled and then came out in the third quarter. Our defense led to confidence on the offensive end."
It also helps to have players who are tall and strong. Acey Orton had a big night for the Bobcats, scoring 21 points and hauling down eight rebounds, while Jace Eyre had 12 points and Trey Barney had 10.
Austyn Brinkerhoff played a fine game for Bryce Valley, scoring 20, grabbing eight rebounds and adding three assists.
The victory put Panguitch, a school that won its first basketball title in 1924 and has a Utah small-school record 71 title banners hanging from the rafters at its gym, on the brink of its first boys' crown since 2001.