Trish Gray / Special to the Pahrump Valley Times - Muckers celebrate victory over Pahranagat Valley High School on Friday. It was like they had won the state title game. It was their first victory over the Panthers in nine years.
ALAMO — It was an epic night for the Tonopah Mucker basketball team. The team achieved their biggest win of the season against Pahranagat Valley High School Panthers by beating them for the first time in 9 years 48-46. The game was played away on Alamo’s court last Friday.
Tyler Gallegos, the team captain, said before the game he always thought winning was the only option.
“Even when they tied it up I knew we weren’t going to lose. I’m so thankful my team never gave up to accomplish this victory,” he said.
Muckers Head Coach Joe Westerlund said his team’s great defense was the reason they beat PVHS.
“Our defense was the key to the victory, we contested every shot throughout the game. We started to allow some open shots toward the end of the game which permitted Alamo to cut the lead down from double digits to two points,” the coach said.
His team played a really disciplined game against the Panthers and they knew how to counteract Alamo’s strengths on the court.
“Alamo was a smaller team, so we had to utilize our big guys, which we did. Jimmy Hunt was huge down low, and Jimmy Withers was grabbing rebounds like crazy,” Gallegos explained.
Westerlund believed their opponent’s main problem was defensively they could not stop the Muckers’ big guys. The coach said Hunt had a great game grabbing some key rebounds and scoring 13 points, but also Jason Carman’s great defensive performance and Withers’ work with 9 rebounds contributed immensely to the outcome of the game.
According to the coach, on offense the Muckers had a great inside game and the players really worked the ball around well.
“Tyler Gallegos played a big role with 14 points and Connor Friel scored 13 points. These guys kept the offense running smooth,” he said.
The tight final score could be misleading and give the wrong impression, as Muckers were ahead during the entire game. At the half, the Muckers had a 10-point lead, 27-17.
“At halftime, we told our kids to focus, play hard defense and keep up the intensity,” Westerlund explained.
According to Gallegos, the team put everything on the court and they had “a never give up attitude”, especially in the fourth quarter.
Despite PVHS’ current record of 1-2 in League, Westerlund still thinks that PVHS will be there at the state tourney.
“Alamo will always be a team to beat in our conference, they are well disciplined and they have some great athletes,” he said.
The Muckers believe they are on track to go to the state tourney with a 4-0 record in league.
“Once we tighten everything up, we’ll be contesting for a State Championship,” Gallegos declared.
With this recent victory, the Muckers have made steady progress in reaching this goal and the team officially responded to the comment made in last week’s issue of the PVT in which Hornets Coach Joe Serrano said, “Tonopah is not that good.” Westerlund settled the matter by saying that he respects everyone’s opinion and wished Beatty well this year.
The next Muckers game is Friday against Spring Mountain at home. Spring Mountain challenged PVHS last year for the state title and is 1-1 in league play. A victory would mean Tonopah is a true contender for the state title. On Saturday the team will travel to Las Vegas to face Word of Life who is 2-1 in league. “I have never seen Word of Life play before, but if they beat Alamo by ten, they must be a really good team,” the coach said.
Both teams should test the Muckers’ skill.