By DAVE BELCHER
Moapa Valley Progress
The Moapa Valley High School Boys’ basketball team finished last week by travelling to Mesquite to play in the brand new gymnasium at Virgin Valley High School. The game ended with a big Pirate win over their Virgin Valley rivals.
Unfortunately, the week had a less auspicious beginning. The Pirates started the week on the road with Wednesday night loss to Chaparral. But it was a close game that showed the Pirates could compete with the league leaders this year.
The game started with a fast pace as the Pirates moved the ball up the floor trying to catch the Cowboys off guard. When not in transition the Pirates would look for the middle of the floor; penetrating for a layup or dishing the ball into the paint for short jumpers. Chaparral on the other hand would come down the floor and shoot for a three. But they were not falling. The Pirates built a 10-7 lead by the end of the first quarter.
Then came the second quarter. The Cowboys turned up the heat and pressed the Pirates full court turning to a tough man to man in the half court. It started with two easy Cowboy layups getting their first lead 11-10. Now the Cowboys were pushing the ball up the floor.
The defense turned up gave the Pirates fits. A turnover lead to a Cowboy slam dunk bringing the Cowboy student section to their feet.
The first point of the second quarter for the Pirates when Reese took the inbound pass and hit a turn-around jumper from five feet for the three-point possession.
The delay did not slow the Cowboys though. They continued to push the ball hitting a few threes and scattering more layups. Chaparral would not miss much as they scored 32 points in the second quarter for a 39-23 lead by halftime.
Both teams remained hot through the third quarter as they finished with a 19-18 Pirate advantage and cut the Cowboy lead by one 57- 42.
The Pirates started building momentum in the third quarter. That carried with them through the fourth and nearly made the comeback falling two points short when the dust cleared.
Moapa Valley pushed the ball up the floor not giving up, even though they trailed by double digits to start the final quarter. Thompson started with a couple of three-pointers as the Pirates chipped away.
Chaparral who had found shots coming easy in the second quarter where not getting them to drop in the fourth. The Pirates made things difficult for the Cowboys with their defense.
Nathaniel Thompson led the Pirates with 23 points. Lucas Walker added 12. Derek Reese scored 10 points.
Jonathan Tendale scored 21 for the Cowboys while Meshach Hawkins and Prineko Kolaker each added 10-points.
The big game of the week was held on Friday against Virgin Valley. It was just the second week after the opening of the new gym facility at the school.
The Pirates took a lead early scoring the first eight points before the Bulldogs got on the board midway through the first quarter. The Pirates held an 11-3 lead. But Virgin Valley would tie the game after an 8-point run with 2:10 to play in the first quarter.
Moapa Valley freshman Lucas Walker then made two three-pointers on back-to-back possessions helping the Pirates to an 18-13 lead by the end of the first quarter.
The Pirates and Bulldogs were pretty even through the second quarter. The Dawgs outscored the Pirates by only one point 15-14 for a Pirate lead of 32-28.
Nathaniel Thompson and Josh Cox each picked up their third fouls in the second quarter benching them both.
Derek Reese had a huge game as he pounded the low post with layups and a couple of inbound interceptions under the Bulldog basket for layups. Reese scored 29 points to lead the Pirates.
Moapa Valley found the basket often as they outscored the Dawgs 22-10 in the third quarter, building a big 54-38 lead to start the fourth quarter.
That lead increased to twenty in the fourth before the Dawgs closed the game out-scoring the Pirates 23-17 for the final 71-61 ending the season series with a Pirate sweep. The first in over a decade.
Thompson scored 12 points for the Pirates.
Daxon Toone scored 19 points to lead the Bulldogs while Jayden Perkins added 12 and Koden Teitjen scored 10. Virgin Valley is 1-8 in league play and 4-19 overall.
Moapa Valley is 3-6 in league play.
Finally, on Saturday the Pirates travelled to Alamo to play the 18-2 Panthers of Pahranagat Valley. The Panthers are 5-0 in the 1A southern region and a favorite for the state championship.
The Panthers started the game with a hot hand scorching the Pirates for a 19-7 lead by the end of the first quarter. They continued the hot hand through the second quarter as they outscored the Pirates by three points 20-17 and a 39-24 halftime lead.
It was a slow third quarter, 9-6 in favor of the Pirates. Moapa Valley made an attempt to catch the Panthers with a 20-15 run through the fourth quarter but fell short of the Panthers in the end. The final was 60-53.
Reese and Jones each scored 15 points to lead the Pirates.
Preston Higbee scored 14, Brodey Maxwell scored 13 and Culen Higbee scored 12 to lead the Panthers.
Moapa Valley falls to 5-15 overall on the season.
The Pirates will host Del Sol in a must win league game on Thursday.