By GANNON HANEVOLD
Moapa Valley Progress
To some, last season might have seemed like the end of an era for the Moapa Valley High School girls basketball program. With the departure of star senior guards Kinlee Marshall and Matilda Thompson, as well as fellow senior contributors Kaila Enosa and Madison Bush, the Pirate team has lost a good deal of its experience.
But Pirates’ head coach Stuart Humes says this year the team isn’t looking at a rebuild, but instead a “reload.” With last year’s defeat at the state tournament in the distant rear view mirror, the team is now hoping to make a run at a title once more.
Playing in the backcourt for the Pirates this year will be Kaitlyn Anderson and Lainey Cornwall. Both are looking to compensate for the points that will be missed with the departure of Thompson and Marshall.
“Kaitlyn Anderson has been working really hard on her game this offseason to pick up that scoring load and a lot of our ball handling,” Humes said. “We’re going to look for her to pick up a lot of production in that regard. And we have Lainey back which is huge for our program. She plays with confidence.”
While this year’s team is budding with talent, one thing it may lack is height. However, the Pirates are hoping to take that potential flaw and turn it into a positive. Coach Humes said the team is going to look to put pressure on teams in a full court set and push the ball up the floor.
On Saturday, the team played in their annual Alumni Game. In this traditional event, the current team takes on players of Moapa’s past.
“Considering the running clock, scoring forty points was pretty good,” Humes said of the team’s performance. “There’s still a lot of work to do when it comes to finding the right combination. It gives us an idea to kind of see who we need to put in certain places.”
The Pirates are more motivated than ever to get back to the State tournament and prove that they can finish the job.
“We certainly want to get back to the state tournament,” Humes said. “We believe that we can compete with anybody the state has. It’s just a matter of finishing.”
But first the team has to to fight through the regular season. This year, they’re looking to be seen as the team to beat in the 3A Sunrise division.
The Pirates will tip off their season with the Lake Mead Tournament in Las Vegas this weekend. In this tournament last season, Moapa came out on top. This year, the Pirates’ coaching staff, which features assistant coach Ben Foster alongside Humes, hopes to strike a balance of long term development and pride.
“Our job is to figure out the combination of players that works,” Humes said. “We have a lot of girls that don’t have a ton of varsity experience but are pretty talented. We want to come out and defend our championship there. But at the same time, we want to make sure we’re getting the girls some experience. It’s going to be unique.”