Richfield • Some of the fiercest boys’ basketball games happen in places like Junction, Tropic and Panguitch, tiny towns that many Wasatch Front fans never have heard of, much less visited.
So when teams like Panguitch and Junction-based Piute get together in a Class 1A state semifinal as was the case Friday night, it’s a war.
The Bobcats, who will meet Tropic-based and Region 20 rival Bryce Valley for the state title at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at the Sevier Valley Center as they try to defend their title, beat the Thunderbirds 49-36 in a war.
The question is whether any of these teams will have anything in the tank.
This was a physical battle, with perhaps every kid from each school in the stands hanging on each missed shot, free throw, rebound and defensive stand.
“When you play a team four times in a season,” said Panguitch coach Clint Barney, whose team beat Piute all four times. “We are the only region in the state that has a region tournament, and you can ask me what I think about that later. It makes it so it is tough to play region matchups. Get them twice home and home and then in region and once in awhile at state. And it does turn into a battle.”
Acey Orton put together a big game for Panguitch, scoring six straight points in the fourth quarter to prevent any kind of Piute comeback.
He finished with 19 points, six rebounds and two steals. Jace Eyre also had a big night for the Bobcats. He scored 17 points and grabbed 11 rebounds.
Kesler Blood led Piute with 14 points and six rebounds.