By GANNON HANEVOLD
Moapa Valley Progress
Only one game was on the schedule last week for the Moapa Valley girls basketball team, and it came on Friday at home against the Chaparral Cowboys. After facing their first loss of the season just the weekend before against Pahrump, the Lady Pirates were on a mission to bounce back.
Early in the game against the Cowboys, three-pointers from Shelbi Walker and Kaitlyn Anderson; as well as a fastbreak score by Anderson; put the Pirates up 8-2.
But the Cowboys were not going away easily. Forcing turnovers and using their post players as an advantage, they climbed back to tie it at 8.
The pendulum effect continued as the Pirates ran in transition and extended their lead back to 19-12 at the end of the first quarter.
The Cowboys kept it a close game during the first half. But eventually the Pirates were able to extend their lead in the final moments of the half.
It was the second team that made the difference for the Moapa team. Sophomore Andalin Hillstead was among the Pirates that came off the bench to give a spark to the team. It was done by forcing turnovers and with a Hillstead layup with just seconds left in the second quarter, the Pirates would lead 40-23 at half.
In the third quarter, Moapa Valley was yet to take their foot off of the accelerator. With the second team in the game for most of the quarter, the Pirates were able to put 25 points on the board in a single quarter. It was one of their highest scoring quarters thus far this season.
Pirates head coach Stuart Humes has made developing the younger players a focus for much of this season. Knowing the team needs depth off the bench, Humes has emphasized getting these players their necessary experience early in the season, so the team is primed to make a run late. He was certainly excited about their performance Friday night.
“They were fantastic,” Humes said after the game. “Our younger players played lights out defense and pushed the tempo.”
The Pirates coasted in the fourth quarter en route to a 76-38 victory, despite an early scare. What was able to bring the Pirates back was their ability to wreak havoc on defense and run the ball on the fastbreak. Humes said he sees that as a strength for his team.
“We feel like in a lot of ways because we’re athletic we don’t ever slow it down,” Humes said. “We feel we can run with anyone. We knew they couldn’t run against us for 32 minutes. We feel more comfortable in an up and down game this year than we ever have.”
While the players will get winter break off from school, the team will stay in competition in the annual Gator Winter Classic at Green Valley High School. The Pirates will take on Foothill and Valley among other opponents this week with games coming from Wednesday all the way through Friday.
The Pirates have had a great track record in tournaments so far, winning the Lake Mead Classic and coming a late shot away from a win in the Bulldog Invitational. This time around, with a gauntlet of league games around the corner in January, Humes has given the team a different focus.
“We’re going to look to get a lot of experience for our younger girls,” Humes said. “We’ve made it a goal to not worry so much about wins and losses and more of making sure all of our girls are playing a good game.”
The Pirates will look to stay playing with the same energy as they had against the Cowboys when they return in January to take on Del Sol and Boulder City. Their performance in the early games this season indicates that Moapa Valley is back and ready to make another deep run in February.