Moapa Valley’s girls basketball team hasn’t won a state championship since 1999.
That could change Saturday.
Senior guard Lainey Cornwall scored a game-high 20 points and made two free throws with 3.8 seconds left to help the Pirates cement a 43-38 victory over Lowry in the Class 3A state semifinals Friday at Orleans Arena.
Moapa Valley, in its first state championship game since 2000, will play Churchill County (25-2) at 11 a.m. Saturday at Orleans Arena.
“The last two weeks we’re starting to peak,” Pirates coach Brandon Jones said. “I told the girls all year that our season was going to come down to regional week and state week, and the team that’s playing the best can compete. We’re that team.”
Jones took over for Stuart Humes, who spent six seasons at the helm and led the Pirates to the state tournament in 2017. The first-year coach returned eight upperclassmen and had lofty expectations.
His players have exceeded them.
Moapa Valley (21-9) finished second in the Class 3A Sunrise League, but rolled through the Southern Region tournament to claim the South’s top seed in the state tournament.
Cornwall keyed the Pirates to a 21-13 halftime lead with five baskets and 10 points. The Buckaroos rallied in the third and fourth quarters, pulling within two points multiple times, but Emma Humes made two free throws with 38 seconds left to help the Pirates take a six-point lead.
Lowry made a 3-pointer in the final seconds and fouled Cornwall on the ensuing possession. She did the rest.
“It’s been crazy, because two years ago we made it to state and last year we lost the game before state,” Cornwall said. “It’s been really exciting to get back in.”
Churchill County 43, Boulder City 25 — Boulder City coach Kirk Estes had a message for his players after their loss in the 3A state semifinals to Churchill County.
“You get better as a basketball player in the next nine months. You don’t get better as a basketball player in the three months of the season,” he said. “I challenged the girls.”
Their offseason began Friday afternoon.
The Eagles played the Greenwave to a 17-17 tie in the first half, but struggled offensively in the second half.
Keely Alexander led Boulder City (21-9) with nine points, and Ellie Howard scored eight.
Leilani Otuafi scored a game-high 12 points for Churchill County.
White Pine 29, Lincoln County 28 — The Bobcats held off a late charge by the Lynx in the Class 2A state semifinals.
Madison Ricks scored seven points for White Pine (25-2), which will meet Incline (21-5) for the state title at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Orleans Arena. White Pine led 29-24 with about a minute to play, but Lincoln County pulled within 29-28 on Sadie Soderborg’s layup with 18 seconds left. A last-second heave by the Lynx fell short.
Soderborg and Kendra Mathews each scored nine points for the Lynx (15-12).
Incline 55, Calvary Chapel 44 — Incline used a big rebounding edge and timely 3-point shooting to down Calvary Chapel in the Class 2A state semifinals.
Taylor Redfern and Elisabeth Stranzl each scored 16 points for Incline, which had a 42-27 rebounding advantage and made seven 3-pointers.
Tyra Perkins had 13 points and 11 rebounds, and Olivia Bell scored 11 for the Lions (16-12).