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Defense fuels Pahrump Valley girls in rout of Valley

For the first time all season, Pahrump Valley girls basketball coach Bob Hopkins had his full roster at his disposal.

Not that he needed it.

The Trojans played a smothering brand of defense Tuesday night at home against Valley, holding the Vikings scoreless during the third quarter, building a 32-6 lead and coasting to a 45-18 victory in the Sunset League opener for both teams.

“Makayla Gent and Maddie Souza played tremendous defense,” Hopkins said. “Tayla Wombaker, same thing. We played real good defense tonight.”

Offense was another matter, and at times the Trojans struggled to put the ball in the basket. That included layups and putbacks, but Hopkins, who has seen just about everything on the basketball court, is optimistic that will come around.

“Hopefully, the inside shots will start falling,” he said. “We’re getting good shots, but we’re not finishing. In the first half, we were 6 for 19.”

But the Trojans improved to 9-5 because of that defense, which refused to give the Vikings much of anything until the outcome was no longer in doubt.

Despite being down more than 20 points, the Valley bench erupted every time something positive happened during the fourth quarter, which was basically the only quarter much positive happened for the visitors.

Positive for the home team was the return of 5-foot-9 junior forward Kylie Stritenberger, who has shown an ability to dominate in the low post. But she is an all-around player, and she showed why during one telling sequence during the third quarter.

The Vikings (0-5, 0-1 Sunset) were trying to push the ball despite not having numbers, and Stritenberger made the stop on defense and forced a turnover. She then raced back up the court as the Trojans pushed the other way and finished the break with a layup.

Hopkins was happy to have her back, and not just because of her game-high 10 points.

“We got Kylie back tonight and she’s really aggressive, and I think that tends to make the other girls more aggressive,” he said. “She did well.”

Jackie Stobbe scored 9 points for the Trojans on three 3-point shots, while Kate Daffer chipped in 8.

It was the Trojans’ first game at home after 13 games away from Pahrump, including nine at the River Valley Invitational in Arizona.

Pahrump Valley went 7-2 in those games, then won one of three at the Lady Bulldog Invitational in Mesquite. The victory was over defending Class 2A Southern champion Lincoln County, and one of the losses came to Panguitch, which has won four of the past five state 1A titles in Utah.

The variety of competition and the sheer number of games were the perfect early-season schedule for Hopkins’ veteran team.

“We got to play a lot of kids, which was good for us,” he said. “Tonight we played 11 kids, and it doesn’t change a lot depending on who’s on the floor.

“We shot the ball better from the outside today. We’re getting there. We haven’t played as well as we expected to, but maybe this game will help get our feet under us, and we’ll see what we do against Moapa on Friday.”

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