"Anyway, this could be the best we've ever had. They're fine boys, too, all of them. Joe Riggs is our little guard. We call him the Little General. Smart, very sensitive kid. His father runs the AG market in town. Just built a new house. Brent Turek is the big boy who scores so many points. His dad works for the state parks. Good job. Wally Ortman's dad has had a lot of bad luck. Been very sick. Wally's a great shooter. Lou Tebbs's dad is a rancher and a state legislator. Ned Richards' dad is the postmaster. They're big boys. Seem to get bigger every year. But listen. Let Bob Davis tell you about how they got to be the first five in the first place. Quite a scandal. Took a lot of courage on Bob's part."
Mrs. Cameron passed out dishes of peanut butter fudge ("It's my specialty") and said it wasn't unusual of a game night for Mr. Cameron to run back and forth from the motel to the gym, huffing and puffing, to get progressive accounts of the scoring. "We play Bryce Valley tonight," she said, "but there's not a seat to be had. The gym is sold out for the year. All 250 seats."
"We're getting a brand-new gym next year," said the proprietor. "Blueprints arc already in. It'll cost $380,000 and will seat 2,300 people, which is 2,000 more than it'll seat now and 1,000 more than we've got people. But we're aiming to bring in the Region 9 tournament.
"Basketball," he said, "is really it in this town. Look around you at all the nets and goals in the backyards. There's as many backboards as there are TV antennas. In some places there was a basketball goal before there was indoor plumbing. Some of them still don't have indoor plumbing."
"Actually, there's no other diversion in the winter," said another Panguitch man. "Except the movie house and the pool hall. And the movie screen has a big slice in it where a kid threw a piece of cardboard. The slice always shows up on the hero's nose. And as for the pool hall, that's no place for a youngster."
"The pool hall is the blight of the community. Always has been," said a third man. "The idle brain is the devil's workshop."
Down the street there was only a handful of cars in front of the high school though it was 2 o'clock. This, it was explained, was because only a handful of Panguitch High School kids could afford cars. The bright yellow-and-silver Chevrolet, souped up to 250 horsepower, belonged to Dr. Sims Duggins' son Rodney. The Studebaker with the bongo drums in the back belonged to the marshal's son, and it was given to him because his father didn't want him flitting around in the patrol car.
There were sheep and cows in the yard across the street from the school. (Panguitch zoning restrictions, said the hotel proprietor, maybe aren't what they ought to be.) The school is a compact, two-story, buff-brick building built to last in 1937. It is right next door to the older Panguitch Junior High, which is condemned but still in use. Standing on the steps out front, one can feel the throb of the phys ed students pounding around in the gym upstairs, can smell the pastry being burned in the home ec oven and can hear, from somewhere, a struggling cornet soloist playing The Nutcracker Suite, or is it Bye Bye Blues?
Enrollment at Panguitch is 110, of which 64 are boys. The principal, Clifford LeFevre, a bright, middle-aged man, says he gave up ranching to return to education, and this explained the huge hide of a Hereford steer that covered one wall of his tiny office. He has a staff of only 13 and therefore requires double duty from some faculty members. In addition to his own job, LeFevre teaches biology and speech; Wrestling Coach Allen Smith is also the music teacher and directs the 30-piece band; and Basketball Coach Davis instructs in math and makes a stab at trigonometry. Davis will be qualified in chemistry as soon as he completes the biweekly course at Cedar City. Teachers get nothing extra for coaching, so Davis, father of five, with a sixth due in June (his annual salary is $4,750), works summers at the slaughterhouse in Kanab and is always on call when somebody in Panguitch needs a pig butchered or some linoleum laid. "Bob can do just about anything he sets his mind to," says Principal LeFevre.
Coach Davis is a tall, curly-haired, handsome man of 32 with a crank-and-go voice and a knowledge of basketball gleaned mostly from books ("I didn't play when I was at Brigham Young, you sec"). Sitting in Principal LeFevre's office, he talked about the intricacies of his offense and how he had decided to use a double post this year. Then he was asked about the basketball scandal he'd cleared up, and about his moratorium on dating. How did a coach cope with such explosive issues?