The Boy ‘Dawgs get ready to play their rival Moapa Valley tonight. (Photo: Jason Andrus)

Mesquite, NV –

Friday night will be a sequel to the Virgin Valley High School Basketball teams taking on Moapa Valley for the final regular-season game before heading into the NIAA Southern Regional Tournament.

The Girls Basketball Team takes to the court as the #2 in the 3A Southern Desert League against the #1 in the same league starting at 5:00 pm at Moapa Valley High School located at 2400 N St Joseph Street in Overton, Nevada. The Boy’s team then takes over the spotlight at 6:30 pm, being tied in second place for the Desert League with Moapa Valley.

The Boy’s Basketball comes off a recent 50/50 game results since beating Moapa Valley last time they met 66-59 in a thriller that went down to the end. The Bulldogs have since the rivalry win on January 27th, played four other teams, winning two and losing two heavy-hearted matchups. The team cruised through Somerset Sky Pointe on January 31st 63-53 but then went into Del Sol where the Dragons engulfed the ‘Dawgs with a 58-56 slip-through win on February 1st. The Bulldogs then went to face the top seed, the Lions of Somerset Academy Losee, which roared their way through the Bulldogs 65-58 for the second loss. The Bulldogs rebounded on the 8th of February killing the Equipo Academy Yeti with a 61-27 win.

Jayden Hunter had a huge game, scoring 19 points against Moapa Valley on January 27th. (Photo: Jason Andrus)

Moapa Valley, on the other hand, is on a 3 game win streak having won 3 out of 4, only losing to top seed Somerset Academy Losee.  After losing to the Bulldogs, the Pirates lost by 28 points to the Lions… 62-30 on January 31st. Then they have gone on a winning streak, finding a good groove in both offense and defense, beating out Somerset Sky Point 60-45 on the 2nd of February, Equipo Academy on February 4th 76-48, and Pinecrest Academy Sloan Canyon 70-34 on the 8th of February.

“The boys (Pirates) have been working hard and playing well lately and we are jockeying for playoff position during this last week,” said MVHS Head Coach Kevin Walker. “We want to go into the playoffs playing Pirate Basketball and looking towards the state tournament.”

The game on Friday will be a huge part of how positioning for playoffs will be for both the Bulldogs and Pirates. Last game was a close one and it came down to free-throws deciding the game.

The Bulldogs lately have been led by the play of Jayden Hunter who has been playing extremely well and really improved his game. Against the Pirates last time he had 19 points and drained a couple of key 3-pointers. The Pirates on the other hand struggled from the free-throw line and will need to rely on getting there and completing the shots. Three of their Seniors were in double digits for scoring, Austin Heiselbetz (18), Eli Cox (14), and Peyton Neilson (12). The Bulldogs found their strength through their 3-point percentage and free-throw percentage beating out the Pirates by almost 20% on both.

A big key will be the added triple threat power of Dustin Gordon for the Pirates, who sat out last time due to Covid Protocols. Gordon has had multiple double-doubles with scoring and rebounding. The Pirates last time outrebounded the Bulldogs 33-31.

Benson Leavitt making free throws against Moapa Valley. The key to winning will be at the free throw line. (Photo: Jason Andrus)

The Key to the game for the Bulldogs will be their continued scoring percentages for offense and then forcing turnovers on defense. As long as they continue to shoot well, keep the 3 pointers high, and get to the free throw line, converting them, they should come out on top. They forced 20 turnovers last time against the Pirates and will need to repeat similar results to win. Benson Leavitt will need to have a big game and then one other person will need to be the surprise of the show like Jayden Hunter was last time they met. Whether it is Stratton Waite, Cam Perkins, or another member of the team, they must have a big showing from one other person than their star player Leavitt.

The Pirates are going to be looking at trying to be more efficient in their scoring percentages, as the field goal percentage and free throw percentage suffered greatly against the Bulldogs. They are very aggressive and get to the line plenty, but they will need to make sure they clean up and finish by making their free-throws. They also will need to keep their turnovers down.

“We are excited to play Moapa,” said VVHS Head Coach Ty Wakefield. “The atmosphere and the rivalry are aspects that the players really enjoy.”

“We are excited to be playing the Dawgs again. I am certain this will be a huge event with all the serious Pirate and Bulldog fans in attendance,” said MVHS Coach Walker.”

Once again the final regular season game is another rivalry matchup of the biggest rivalry in the state of Nevada. Will the Pirates fly the black skull and crossbones flag in triumph or will the Dogs howl in victory? It was a war of the seas in which the Dawgs sunk the Pirates last time they met, but barely.

“You don’t have to have to worry about hustle and heart in this game, you worry more about them staying calm and doing what they do best,” summarized Pirates Coach Walker about the mood that will be felt at the game Friday. “Both teams will have plenty of hustle and heart.”


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