Moapa Valley’s girls would trade every accolade they’ve earned this season for one more shot.
One more field goal. One shot that would just fall in.
The Pirates’ run to the Class 3A state basketball tournament final came up one shot short Saturday in a 45-42 loss to Churchill County at Orleans Arena. The title was the Greenwave’s third straight.
“I’m just so proud of these girls,” said Moapa Valley coach Brandon Jones, whose team made its first state final since 2000. “We’ve had three straight seasons of 20-plus wins. We got to the championship game for the first time in 19 years.”
The Pirates made just 11 of 42 shots from the field, including 6 of 27 2-point shots. The team’s leading scorers — senior Lainey Cornwall (16.8 points per game) and junior Kaitlyn Anderson (14.1 ppg) — combined to shoot 3-for-23 from the field.
“We had a couple roll in and out that would have made a difference,” Jones said. “We’ve been inconsistent with our offense all year, but what has been the difference these last two weeks has been our defense, and we played well there again.”
Moapa Valley (21-10) also showed some early nerves, committing seven turnovers in the first 2:40 and 10 in the first quarter. But the Pirates found a way to hang around against a taller Greenwave team.
Churchill County (26-2) built a 24-15 lead on Makenzee Moretto’s 3-point play with 1:35 to play in the first half, but Moapa Valley closed the deficit to 37-33 after three quarters.
“We had chances where we could have just given up,” Jones said. “But we kept battling back.”
The Greenwave again threatened to pull away when Leta Otuafi’s coast-to-coast layup bumped the lead to 42-35 with 4:30 to play.
The Pirates stiffened defensively, not allowing another field goal the rest of the way, and got within 44-42 on Emma Humes’ 3-pointer with 7.2 seconds left.
After Churchill County’s Kenna Hamlin split two free throws with 2.5 seconds left, Ashlyn Western’s heave from beyond half court fell short.
Emilie Barraza led Moapa Valley with 13 points. Cornwall scored 10, and Anderson had nine points and 10 rebounds.
Leta Otuafi led Churchill County with 16 points, and Leilani Otuafi scored 12.
Eva Kingston scored eight of her 20 points in the fourth quarter to lead White Pine to a 34-25 win over Incline in the 2A championship game. Elisabeth Stranzl scored 11 points to lead the Highlanders.
Sophomore Perla Gutierrez scored 21 points as Mineral County held on for a 40-35 win over Eureka to win the Class 1A state title. Gracie Garrett scored 16 points, 12 in the fourth quarter, to lead the Vandals.
Contact reporter Bartt Davis at email@example.com or 702-383-4690.