By GANNON HANEVOLD
Moapa Valley Progress
The year 2017 will definitely be one that is etched in the memories of the athletes that had a part in this special season of Lady Pirate basketball. A year after falling in a tough loss to Faith Lutheran in the playoffs, the Pirates rallied to win the Southern Region this season for the first time in over a decade.
With such a great season certainly comes award recognition, and the Pirates claimed honors across the board for the Division 3A. Kinlee Marshall and Matilda Thompson both earned First Team All-Sunrise League and First Team All-Southern Region honors, and Marshall was recognized on the All-State First Team, while Thompson made the All-State Second Team. Moapa Valley sophomore Lainey Cornwall also landed a spot on the First Team All-Sunrise League as well as the Second Team All-Southern Region. As a freshman, Kaitlyn Andersen earned a place on the Second Team All-Sunrise League, and seniors Madison Bush and Kaila Enosa were honorable mentions.
With such a great season, the team’s success certainly starts at the top, with a dedicated group of seniors, and a determined coaching staff, led by Head Coach Stuart Humes and Assistant Coach Ben Foster. Pirate senior and starting point guard Matilda Thompson said of Humes, “We wouldn’t be able to get this far if it wasn’t for his dedication to us girls and passion for the sport.” The Moapa Valley coach was rewarded for his role in helping the Pirates go as far as they did, with the honor of 3A Southern Region Coach of the Year.
Leading the Pirates this year on the court would be seniors, and longtime teammates, Kinlee Marshall and Matilda Thompson. Marshall averaged 12 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 4 steals a game this season and Thompson averaged 8 points, 4 steals, 3 assists and 3 rebounds a game.
The pair of veteran basketball players share a mutual love for the game. Marshall said, “Besides school and church and church activities, basketball has always been the biggest part of my life!”
Thompson recognized the nearly life-long bond that this team shared and its impact on their success. “I have been playing with most of these girls since grade school,” she said. “I grew up knowing how to play with most of them and everyone on the team had the same goal.”
Both players recognized that the foundation to this season started with hard work in the offseason, as did their head coach.
“The seniors went into the offseason with a purpose and they worked extremely hard on their individual skills and their team building,” Humes said.
Sometimes after such a successful year, teams can take a fall in the seasons following, but Humes is optimistic about the future. He praised this coming year’s team of talent, led by upcoming senior Shelbi Walker, junior Lainey Cornwall, and sophomore Kaitlyn Andersen.
But Humes said that it takes more than talent to have a special season. “It will depend on how special this program is to them and how hard they are willing to work to be their best for the team,” he said.
This season was certainly one to remember for Moapa Valley basketball, and the leadership of Marshall and Thompson, as well as other seniors Madison Bush, Kaila Enosa, and Tiffany Sprague, was a driving factor. The Pirates hope to keep the program moving in a positive direction following their departure, and perhaps they can capture the championship trophy they’ve long chased.