By GANNON HANEVOLD
Moapa Valley Progress
For the Moapa Valley High School boys basketball program, the road back to the elusive playoffs, starts now – in the offseason. As with any successful season, the process begins early and for the Pirates, an early start is more important than ever.
As the team’s new head coach Stuart Humes got a feel for who will be coming up in the program next year, the players got a chance to improve with a five day camp hosted by Dixie State University last week. The team played in nine round robin games, and two short tournaments over the course of the week, bringing both a freshman and varsity team.
Taking on teams primarily from around Utah and Nevada, the Pirates faced stiff competition. Despite losses to some of the bigger schools from Northern Utah, Moapa took down Wayne (UT) in a close matchup. Opponents including Sky Ridge (UT) and Panguitch (UT) combined for the team’s seven losses.
The Pirates faced two teams from Southern Nevada: Moapa’s fellow rural rival Pahranagat Valley and also Shadow Ridge. Moapa Valley handily defeated the Panthers from Alamo. Against Shadow Ridge, however, they would face a tougher challenge.
In a back and forth game on Thursday, the Mustangs led by four with under thirty seconds left. Then Cameron Reese of Moapa delivered with a timely corner three to keep his team alive.
Forced to go to the free throw line, the Mustangs held on to defeat the Pirates by a three point margin.
Also among the excitement for the week would be the annual “Two Minute Tournament” on Wednesday. In this tournament, each game was just two minutes long, testing teams and their late game basketball IQ.
Here, the Pirates would face Wayne once more, just a day after defeating them. This time around, in a smaller sample size, Wayne got the best of Moapa, winning by four after making important free throws in the final moments. The Pirates played with just four players in the late seconds of the game because of a thin bench and a rule for the tournament that fouled players out after just one foul.
The week concluded with the playoff tournament bracket in which the Pirates were seeded to take on the Shadow Ridge team that defeated them by three just one day prior. In the playoff tournament for this particular camp, each game would take place in just one twenty minute half.
The Pirates and Mustangs would have a close game once again, as the score would be 20-19 in favor of the Pirates with under seven minutes to go.
However, the Shadow Ridge defense hardened and the Mustangs went on a run to defeat the Pirates by nine and send the team home frustrated, yet still optimistic based on the week’s results.
Moapa Valley’s freshman team, coached by Jared Bushman and John Stastny, witnessed evident progress as the week went along. The team faced many close game scenarios, most notably in their first and final tournament game.
The Pirates fell in a sudden death overtime situation, as their opponent scored to end the game in extra minutes. Regardless, both Bushman and Stastny were pleased with the growth of the players and what that could mean for the Pirates in future years.
Head coach Stuart Humes echoed this thought. He said that he and assistant coach Kevin Walker were “happy with how the varsity group came together.”
“We played against some tough teams from the Salt Lake City area and showed out well,” Humes said. “The nice thing about camp is that it can really show a player the things they need to work on in the offseason to get ready for next season.”
This camp proves to be just a start in the turnaround of Moapa Valley boys basketball. The team looks to continue improving in the weeks and months before the regular season rolls around.
As for the summer, Coach Humes welcomes players interested in taking part in basketball this year to open gym practices Monday through Thursday weekly at the high school from 4:00 to 5:30.