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Class 3A: Moapa Valley comes up just short in title bid

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’ remarkable run to the Class 3A state tournament final came up one shot short Saturday in a 45-42 loss to Churchill County at Orleans Arena. It was the Greenwave’s third consecutive state championship.

“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. I couldn’t be more proud.”

The Pirates made just 11 of 42 shots from the field Saturday, including just 6 of 27 2-point shots. The team’s two leading scorers — senior Lainey Cornwall (16.8 points) and junior Kaitlyn Anderson (14.1 points) — 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 of the game and 10 in the first quarter.

Yet, the Pirates found a way to hang around against a taller Greenwave (26-2) team.

Churchill County 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 an 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 added 10 points, and Anderson had nine points and 10 rebounds.

Leta Otuafi led Churchill County with 16 points, and Leilani Otuafi scored 12.

Boys

Churchill County also won the boys title when Elijah Jackson beat the overtime buzzer with a 21-foot 3-pointer from the left wing to give the Greenwave a 57-54 win over Elko.

Elko forced overtime on Sean Klekas’ 3 pointer with two seconds left in regulation.

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