By GANNON HANEVOLD
Moapa Valley Progress
The Moapa Valley High School Girls Basketball team wrapped up the regular season last week with two games. The first was against a potential future playoff opponent, and the second was just an opportunity to get hot before the postseason. The Pirates made the most of both of these opportunities and emerged still undefeated in league play.
The first game of the week came on the road against the rival Boulder City Eagles. With this game being the Eagles’ last home game of the year, there was already a lot at stake. Throw in that Boulder City needed a win to snatch the second seed in the Sunrise Division and a home playoff game, and this was bound to be a tough contest for the Pirates.
In the first quarter, the Pirates found their rhythm from down deep. It seemed like everything they threw went in if it came from beyond the arc. Six threes in the first quarter sent the team into a great start. Junior guard Lainey Cornwall made three of those shots, and Kaitlyn Hopkins came off the bench to sink a pair as well. The Pirates took a 20-10 lead into the second quarter and looked to be in command.
But the Eagles weren’t giving up on their hopes of a second seed quite yet. They rallied to tie the game at 22. The Pirates weren’t rattled by the momentum change, though. Moapa took charge once more and held a 34-22 lead at halftime.
“We knew that Boulder was going to come at us with a run,” said Pirate head coach Stuart Humes. “It was just a matter of limiting them and taking advantage of our opportunities. We know that some of these teams are going to make small adjustments here and there. A lot of teams are bigger than we are so when they recognize that they can get an easier chance to score in certain spots we have to be able to take away their strengths.”
In the second half, the Pirates maintained control and would pull off a 59-45 victory. Lainey Cornwall finished the game with 27 points.
The second game of the week, played Thursday, was on the road as well at Sky Pointe. With Sky Pointe being in last place going into the game, Moapa elected to rest their starters. However, there wasn’t any sort of fall in scoring punch.
Emilie Barraza and Andalin Hillstead used their opportunity to play a featured role. Both put double digit scoring numbers in the scorebook. Barraza scored 20 and Hillstead scored 12 to lead the team. Kaitlyn Hopkins also scored six for the Pirates. The final score would be 50-8.
“Andi and Emilie have been big for us all year coming off the bench and providing sparks at different spots in the game,” Coach Humes said. “I was really proud of them to come in and take the lead. Both of them stepped up and have started to prove what they’re capable of. Their hard work and dedication has paid off.”
With this win, the Pirates finish the regular season 12-0, a remarkable undefeated year. As for the season as a whole, the team stands at 24-3.
Leading the team in scoring is Cornwall and sophomore Kaitlyn Andersen, with 14.8 and 14.6 points per game, respectively. The dynamic duo also stand as the top two scorers in the Division 3A in the state of Nevada. Cornwall and Andersen make for the best scoring pair in the league and will be a force to be reckoned with in the postseason. The Pirates stand two wins away from a trip to the state tournament.
As for team statistics, the Pirates have the highest volume of scoring from deep, leading the state in threes made with 121. The recipe for success this season has come from taking care of the ball on offense and wreaking havoc on the other end. The Pirates are second in the state in steals per game, and also turn the ball over at the second lowest rate. They hold the highest steal-turnover ratio, at 1.08, the only team in the net positive for that stat.
“We really like where we’re at but we’re also aware that in tournament play anything can happen,” Humes said.
The Pirates are two victories away from getting back to the stage they reached last season. This time they hope to go further and perhaps find themselves holding a trophy on the evening of February 24.