Virgin Valley High School, Mesquite, NV-
The Virgin Valley Boy’s Basketball Team came out with full vigor as they welcomed their biggest in-state rival of Moapa Valley Pirates into the “Dawg Pound.” Even though the Moapa Valley Pirates had a worse seasonal record at 9-10, the Bulldogs had to keep the “vigor” going until the end of the game. The Pirates kept the game close until their ship finally sank within seconds left in the game. The final score was 66-59 as the Bulldogs improved their record to 12-6 while the Pirates dropped to 9-11.
“The atmosphere was everything a rivalry should feel like,” summed up VVHS Head Coach Ty Wakefield. “Moapa travels and supports their teams. Our fans also show up and shout out. Runs and droughts, highs and lows, fan volume ebbs and flows. It was fun!”
Jayden Hunter was player of the game as he dropped 19 points with exceptional defensive plays for the night. The Bulldogs as a team also had the nets flaming, as they were hot throughout the night making 50% of their field goals and 36% from the three-point arc.
The Pirates on the other hand outrebounded the Bulldogs 33-31 but turned over the ball 20 times. Virgin Valley turned over the ball 15 times. The Pirates also got to the free-throw line 28 times, but immensely struggled as they only converted 15 of those.
“We are usually a very good free-throwing team,” said MVHS Head Coach Kevin Walker. “…But couldn’t seem to convert when we needed them.”
The Pirates had Guard Austin Heiselbetz as a huge spark for the team with 18 points on 7/11 shooting and 3/6 from 3-point land. Eli Cox was perfect from the field (4/4) and 6/9 from free throw to add 14 points for the Pirates, as well as their overall star player Peyton Nielson with 12 points and 8 rebounds in the losing effort.
Pirates also had one of their better players sitting out due to Covid protocol, Dustin Gordon.
“It was a great experience to start the rivalry back up and to play in such a fun, charged environment,” said Walker. “My boys are excited to get the Bulldogs back at Moapa in two weeks.”
Overall, the Bulldogs were “dead-shots” as their accuracy of shooting exceeded the Pirates by 5% from the field and 8% from the 3-point line.
“I am pleased with our team effort,” stated Coach Wakefield.
The Bulldogs travel to Moapa Valley for Bulldogs vs. Pirates: Part 2 on Friday, February 11th at 6:30 pm.
Earlier in the week, the Bulldogs lost a heartbreaker on Saturday, January 22nd to Somerset Losee Cadence Lions who are led by Head Coach Darrius Banks, notorious for being one of the best coaches in Nevada Athletics and former high school coach of Gary Payton II and relatives with former professional and UNLV athletes Freddie and Marcus Banks. The Losee Lions came into Virgin Valley roaring a 11-1 record only losing to Sports Leadership & Management (SLAM) 48-52 on the 7th of January. The Bulldogs had just earlier that week upset SLAM on the 8th of January in Overtime, 73-67.
The Lions showed unsurmountable strength as they outperformed the Bulldogs in field goal percentage (42.3%), free throw percentage (60%), and dominated off points in the paint (24 compared to Pirates’ 6 points in the paint). Virgin Valley did have a better 3 point percentage (31.3% compared to 21.4%).
“It was a very tough environment to win in,” said Losee Head Coach Banks. “it was essential to attack the basket so the crowd really can’t get involved in the game because they really get a lot of juice from the fans in the crowd…. We just shot the ball good from the free throw, we rebounded the ball well, and helped us get through a really tough game.”
The Losee Lions made it to the line 35 times making 21 of those. On the other hand, the Bulldogs only got to the line 11 times making 6.
The Bulldogs started off slow for the first minute of the game as the Lions jumped right up to 5-0, but then Stratton Waite hit a three to help get the Bulldogs energized. The rest of the game was tightly contested as the Lions led at the end of the first period 15-12, then 25-23 at halftime, and 40-35 at the end of the third. With less than 7:00 left in the game, the Losee Lions kicked it into gear under the rim as they went up 46-37, but the Bulldogs reliance on the three-points paid off as they hit 2 three-pointers and 1 field goal to pull within 4 points with 2:17 left (49-45). Losee got a layup while Virgin Valley hit a huge three-pointer by Jayden Hunter to pull within 3, 51-48.
However, with 1:09 left, Kyler Sudweeks forced a turnover to give the Bulldogs at coming within 1 point or tying the game, but two straight missed shots ended up with the Bulldogs having to force a foul on Losee Lions “Big Man” 6’5″ Sophomore Malachi Richardson, who had sat out most of the second half due to committing four fouls during the first half.
Virgin Valley still had a chance being only down 52-48, but again missed shots (three shots) and had to force foul Losee’s Christian Haylock, who sank both free throws to secure the win with 3.6 seconds left. The final score was 54-48 as the Bulldogs lost a “gut-wrencher.”
“These guys are really good here,” said Losee Coach Banks of the Bulldogs. “We really circled this game on our schedule because we knew the importance of this matchup.”
Banks also really highlighted how value of this win as it was highlighted they had lost to SLAM, while Virgin Valley beat SLAM. Losee, SLAM, and Virgin Valley are the top three in the Southern Region for NIAA.
“This really has deep implications on the season,” said Coach Banks.
The Bulldogs were able to rebound quickly as they took on newer school Equipo Academy on Monday, January 24th. Virgin Valley shredded the Yeti of Equipo Academy 70-17. The Yeti have only one win which was against another newer school Adelson on December 8th 46-40. Equipo has lost to Moapa Valley 76-21, Losee 79-13, and SLAM 64-14.
The Bulldogs are now sitting at 12-6 heading to Somerset Sky Pointe who sit at a 11-10 record. The game is Monday, January 31st starting at 6:30 pm located at 7038 Sky Pointe Dr., Las Vegas, NV.