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VEGAS INVITATIONAL: Team-first mentality pushes Moapa Valley boys past Tech

The Moapa Valley boys basketball team has been battered with roster turnover.

With all five starters gone from last season’s squad, the Pirates quickly abandoned any thoughts of leaning heavily on one player. Instead, they have set their sights on a team-first, pass-often mentality.   

“We don’t have one kid that we say ‘hey, we need to get him the ball,’” Moapa Valley coach Dallas Larsen said. “We just talk about teamwork, teamwork, teamwork and get it to the open man.”

Friday proved that ball distribution has its way of netting positive results.     

Senior forward Jackson Mortensen scored 12 points, and the Pirates blitzed Tech 47-21 in the Vegas Invitational at Mountain View.

Moapa Valley will face Lake Mead in the consolation game at 5 p.m. Saturday.
“That was probably one of the best overall team games that we’ve had in a while,” said Larsen, who is in his fifth season coaching the Pirates. “In the first half we played really well with the movement of the ball and we were able to execute some offense.”

The Pirates (4-9) charged to a 17-4 first quarter lead, converting several baskets in the paint on successful backdoor cuts. Junior post Lance Hilton scored all six of his points in the period. He finished the game with eight rebounds.

“I think our bigs played well,” Larsen said. “We were able to get the ball inside, and we moved well against their zone. Anytime you get the ball inside on a zone, it’s going to open up your shooters later on. We try to tell our kids to play some inside-out basketball.”

The stout offensive output didn’t last long, though.

In a game that featured 45 total turnovers, Moapa Valley committed 21. The smooth ball movement that jumpstarted the offense in the first half, faltered in the final two quarters as the Pirates committed 14 turnovers.

However, the Roadrunners had issues of their own.

Tech failed to find any sort of offensive rhythm throughout the game, shooting a dreadful 16 percent (8-for-50) from the field and went 3-for-10 from the free-throw line. Moapa Valley’s first-half pressure zone defense forced the Roadrunners into 12 turnovers and a 26-9 halftime deficit.

Junior guard Justin Hughes, benefiting from his ability to penetrate the lane, scored nine of his 11 points in the fourth quarter to seal Moapa Valley’s victory.

“That’s always a plus for us,” Larsen said of his team’s effort down low. “The flow of the game is just so nice to see. We’ve been having some struggles lately, especially with turnovers. It was just really nice to see the ball movement and being able to penetrate when we could.”

Jawad Ansary and Elijah Roberston chipped in five points apiece to pace Tech.

Lake Mead 60, Sage Hill (Calif.) 39 — Justin Yamzon poured in 26 points and went 6-for-6 from the foul line to help the Eagles quiet the Lightning.

Caleb Pittman registered 14 points and 12 rebounds for Lake Mead, which sped to a 16-4 lead in the first quarter.

Zack Drobenko paced Sage Hill with eight points.

Agassi Prep 74, The Meadows 67 — Jordan Smith scored 13 of his 15 points in the fourth quarter, and the Stars used a 17-0 game-ending run to defeat the Mustangs.

Wa’t Manor had 14 points, and Steven Jones chipped in 10 points for Agassi, which went 22-for-28 from the free-throw line.

Adam Abdelaziz and Brian Fridman each contributed 16 points for The Meadows. Abdelaziz hauled in 10 rebounds.

Sunrise Mountain 84, Mountain View 65— Jason Ford scored 19 points, and teammate Zane Gibbs tallied 17 points as the Miners downed the Saints.

Sherman Nash added 15 points for Spring Mountain, which held a commanding 41-25 halftime lead.

Joseph Gueverra scored 18 points, connecting on four 3-pointers, for Mountain View, which got 13 points from Jacob Lee.

Pahrump Valley 38, Adelson School 29 — The Trojans outscored the Lions 23-7 in the second half to grab the victory.

Quon Cotton led the charge for Pahrump with eight points.

Robert Blackwell tallied 12 points for Adelson School, which had 11 points from Mendi Berrebi.

Spring Mountain 61, Calvary Chapel 49 — Roemello Tatum registered 17 points, and the Golden Eagles used a 32-21 halftime advantage to tame the Lions.

Kenyon McNair, Christopher Munro, and Develle Williams each contributed 11 points for Spring Mountain.

Drew Hammond scored 10 of his 23 points in the first quarter for Calvary Chapel.

Abundant Life (Utah ) 58, Word of Life 39 — Emeka Okafor poured in 11 points for the Eagles, who couldn’t overcome a 39-14 halftime deficit.

Elijah Hoye added nine points for Word of Life.

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