The Buffaloes took control early but never quite could put away the Rebels.
Rich used a ferocious, desperate press to cut the Buffaloes once-safe double-digit lead in the fourth quarter to force overtime and actually gained its first lead at 61-59 in overtime.
But Valley calmly came back. The big basket was a 3-pointer by Garrett Spencer with 48 seconds left. Cameron Franklin added two big baskets early in the overtime, and Spencer finished it with two free throws.
"It's a tough decision as a coach," Owen Hoyt said. "Do you keep the pedal down or do you try to use some clock. When you use some clock, sometimes you take the aggressiveness away from the players. We were trying to find some balance."
Free throws were key. Valley hit 18 of 22, missing only two in the fourth quarter and overtime when the game was on the line.
"We shoot 30 to 40 free throws a day at practice," said Valley senior point guard and leader Cobe Reck, who had 14 points, three assists, three rebounds and a steal. "We pride ourselves on being a good free-throw team."
Spencer had a big night, finishing with 24 points, but Hoyt credited Reck for showing senior leadership and running the team.
So now Valley gets a shot at Panguitch, the state title favorite all season, in the title game.
The Bobcats beat the Buffaloes 32-17 in the first meeting but survived a 63-61 game against Valley on Feb. 16, which would indicate the Hoyts and their team may be peaking at just the right time.
Valley 71, Rich 65
• Valley staves off a ferocious Rich rally in the fourth quarter to earn the right to meet Region 20 rival Panguitch for the state title Saturday.
• Garrett Spencer scores 24 points for Valley, while senior point guard Cobe Reck and Cameron Franklin add 14 apiece.
• Rich gets 19 points and 13 rebounds from Nick Jarman in its come-from-behind effort that falls just short.