Shaun Hilton appeared to have carved out a niche at point guard for the Moapa Valley boys basketball team.
It’s the position he played last season on the way to second-team all-state honors in Class 3A.
But after a midseason roster addition, the 6-foot-5-inch senior has blossomed into a star post player for the Pirates.
Hilton’s transition is a big reason Moapa Valley (14-8) enters the 3A state tournament as the South’s No. 1 seed. The Pirates meet North second seed Spring Creek (13-15) in the semifinals at 8 p.m. Friday at Desert Oasis.
“He’s become really a good post presence inside,” Moapa Valley coach Dallas Larsen said. “Whatever he had to do to help our team win, he would make that change.”
As recently as last summer, the Pirates began developing an offense in which Hilton would bring the ball up and then go to the low block.
But when sophomore Casen Lewis was brought up from the junior varsity to run the point in late December, Hilton wasn’t needed in the backcourt.
Hilton has responded by averaging 14 points and leads the Pirates in rebounds (9.7), assists (3.6) and steals (1.6). He’s helped form a stellar inside-outside game with sharpshooter Max Jenkins, who averages 17.4 points.
In the other semifinal, Boulder City (14-17) faces Lowry (18-9) at 4:40 p.m.
In the girls 3A semifinals, South No. 1 seed Boulder City (11-10) meets North No. 2 Lowry (17-12) at 6:20 p.m.
It’s already been a historic season for the Eagles, who are headed to state for only the second time this decade. Now they’ll try for their first state title since 1991.
“We have the best player in the state, and yet we don’t seem to get the recognition that we deserve,” Boulder City coach Brian Lemmel said, referring to Caiti Forrester. “We need to prove that we belong. We are a complete team, and we have been playing well.”
Forrester, a senior forward, had 48 points, 15 rebounds and 12 assists in two league tournament wins.
Virgin Valley (21-8) meets Spring Creek (26-1) at 3 p.m. in the other semifinal.
The 2A state semifinals begin Friday at Sierra Vista.
In the boys bracket, Needles (29-6) faces Incline (22-8) at 4:40 p.m., and Agassi Prep (16-10) plays Rite of Passage (14-15) at 8 p.m. In the girls bracket, Needles (28-3) plays Pershing County (20-6) at 3 p.m., and Lincoln County (25-3) meets Incline (13-11) at 6:20 p.m.
The 1A state semifinals begin Friday at the Orleans Arena.
In the boys bracket, Pahranagat Valley (22-7) faces Smith Valley (25-5) at 12:40 p.m., and Lake Mead (23-8) plays Owyhee (26-2) at 4 p.m. In the girls bracket, Lund (19-3) plays Virginia City (27-5) at 11 a.m., and Pahranagat Valley (20-9) meets Owyhee (13-5) at 2:20 p.m.
Contact reporter Tristan Aird at taird@ reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5203.In-depth high school sports coverage