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Girls basketball: Pahrump Valley places 3rd in Mesquite tournament

While nobody expected the Pahrump Valley High School girls basketball team to go undefeated, the Trojans’ first defeat of the season was totally unacceptable to coach Bob Hopkins.

One night after opening the Lady Bulldog Invitational at Virgin Valley High School with what might have been their best performance of the season, the Trojans threw in a clunker, falling 34-28 to Moapa Valley on Friday afternoon in Mesquite.

“We were not ready to play today for whatever reason,” Hopkins said. “Too many turnovers. They never pressed us, and we had 18 turnovers. You turn the ball over 18 times in the frontcourt and you’re not going to win many games.”

An offense that often looked like five people who had never met ended the game with more turnovers than made baskets. Even worse, only three players made any baskets at all. A team that had seven players averaging at least 3 points per game before the trip to Mesquite saw only Tayla Wombaker (12 points), Makayla Gent (8 points) and Kate Daffer (8 points) get their names in the scoring column against the Pirates.

Almost the same thing happened Thursday, when, until the final seconds, only Wombaker (10), Daffer (10) and Nicky Velazquez (9) scored against defending tournament champion Dixie of St. George, Utah. In that game, Maddy Souza hit two free throws with 8 seconds left to lift the Trojans to a 31-30 victory over the Flyers (6-2).

“They’re a real good team,” Hopkins said of Dixie. “Way better team than we played today.”

It was frustrating for Hopkins to see the same team that played so well against a high-quality opponent the previous day play so poorly against Moapa Valley, the team that had eliminated the Trojans from last year’s Class 3A Southern Regional Tournament, 29-24 in overtime.

“(Thursday) night they all played well, a good team effort,” Hopkins said. “Trouble is, it was a team effort today, but the wrong kind of effort.”

The Trojans, who held the Pirates to 32 percent shooting from the floor, shot a dismal 20 percent themselves, making 5 of 17 shots from beyond the arc and an appalling 3 of 23 from inside the arc. Paced by 11 from Daffer, the Trojans held a 27-20 edge in rebounds, but the Pirates compensated for that with edges in steals (11-6) and forced turnovers (19-12).

But, as usual, defense kept Pahrump Valley in the game, as they held Moapa Valley to just 9 first-half points in taking a 12-9 lead into intermission.

That lead became 15-9 when Gent nailed a 3-pointer from the top of the key, but the Pirates went on an 11-0 run over the next 4 minutes, 34 seconds on three 3-pointers and a fast-break layup to take a 20-15 lead with 3:15 left in the third.

Moapa Valley did not trail again.

“They’ll learn from it,” Hopkins said of his players. “They’re young, and hopefully they’ll bounce back.”

And bounce back they did, coming out Saturday and thoroughly dominating the host school in a 54-31 victory in the tournament’s third-place game. Virgin Valley took its only lead at 5-4 and Pahrump Valley took over from there, outscoring the Bulldogs in every quarter to improve to 11-1.

While the boys basketball team will be off until after New Year’s Day and the wrestling team won’t hit the mats again until mid-January, Hopkins’ team will take the floor at home Friday night.

The nonleague game against Needles is at 6 p.m.

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