Moapa Valley chases elusive title

Josh Thompson used to look up to Moapa Valley basketball players in hopes of one day wearing the blue and gold of the Pirates.

Now the senior point guard has young players wanting to step into his shoes.

“Josh Thompson has kind of become a folk hero to these little kids,” Moapa Valley coach Dallas Larsen said. “A 9-year-old boy said, ‘Dad, I’ve been practicing my half-court shot like Josh Thompson.’ He’s not the biggest kid on the court, but he does a lot of good things with the basketball.”

The 5-foot-8-inch sharpshooter can add to his growing reputation in Overton by leading the Pirates to an elusive state title this week.

Moapa Valley (15-11) opens the Class 3A state tournament with a semifinal against South Tahoe (12-11) at 4 p.m. Friday at the Orleans Arena. The title game is set for 12:45 p.m. Saturday.

Thompson scored a team-high 15 points in a 47-37 win over rival Virgin Valley in Saturday’s league final to help the Pirates reach the state tournament.

Now he’ll try to lead Moapa Valley to its first state title since it took the 2A crown in 2002-03. The Pirates reached the 3A final two years ago only to lose to Boulder City.

Thompson, who averages 12.2 points and team highs of 5.2 assists and 2.8 steals, is one of several weapons on the perimeter for the Pirates.

Senior forward Hayden Cooper leads Moapa Valley with 14.0 points per game, and guards Casen Lewis (7.9 ppg) and Dakota Watters (6.2 ppg) also give defenses something to account for.

“We realize that we’re mostly seniors,” Thompson said. “We know if we work together we’ll be able to do well. We’ve been playing with each other forever and have great chemistry. We all trust each other.”

Larsen said it would be special for Moapa Valley to hang a new basketball banner in its gym after watching the football team win two of the past four 3A state titles.

“With football easily being the big sport around here, what a boost it would be to see the basketball team win a state championship,” he said.

In Class 2A boys semifinals Friday at Durango, Agassi Prep (15-8) meets Yerington (18-7) at 4:40 p.m., and Needles (18-6) takes on Incline (21-5) at 8.

In Class 1A boys semifinals Friday at Arbor View, Beatty (20-11) faces Virginia City at 4:40 p.m., and Pahranagat Valley (24-4) meets Smith Valley at 8.

In a 3A girls semifinal, Virgin Valley (19-5) plays Churchill County (14-10) at 2:20 p.m. Friday at the Orleans Arena.

In 2A girls semifinals Friday at Durango, Lincoln County (16-10) meets Pershing County (24-2) at 3 p.m., and White Pine (19-9) plays Needles (25-3) at 6:20.

In 1A girls semifinals Friday at Arbor View, Tonopah (11-7) faces Eureka at 3 p.m., and Wells (20-5) plays Pahranagat Valley (17-8) at 6:20.

Contact reporter Tristan Aird at taird@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5203.

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