Truckee girls beat Moapa Valley, advance to state championship game
The Truckee girls basketball team will play for a Class 3A state championship today in Reno after pulling off a 38-26 victory against Moapa Valley in yesterday’s semifinal round.
The Lady Wolverines entered the state tournament as the No. 2 seed from the Northern League, lining the team up against Southern League champions Moapa Valley at Reno High School.
Neither squad was able to get into much of an offensive rhythm during the game as Truckee hounded Moapa Valley’s top player, senior Kaitlyn Anderson, while being frustrated on their end of the floor by the Pirates’ press and zone defense.
Truckee junior captain Lauren Tanner was tasked with slowing Anderson, who averaged nearly 15 points per game during the season and led Moapa Valley in most major statistical categories.
“I knew I was going to have to focus a lot more on defense,” said Tanner after holding Anderson to 13 points. “I had to put all my work in defensively.”
The Pirates started off the game by getting an early field goal, but then went cold from the field as Truckee mounted a 10-0 run to take a 12-6 lead into the second quarter.
The score remained the same through roughly the first 5 minutes of the second quarter. Truckee freshman Aleksen Thayer finally ended the drought by knocking down a shot. Moapa Valley would answer shortly after with their lone field goal of the quarter before the teams entered the locker room with the Wolverines holding a 16-9 advantage.
Truckee was forced to play much of the half with their leading scorer, rebounder, and shot blocker, junior Annika Thayer, on the bench due to three first-half fouls.
In the second half, the shooting woes continued for the Pirates as the team didn’t find its first field goal until 3 minutes left in the third quarter. Several turnovers created by the the Pirates’ defense kept Moapa Valley in the game, and helped limit Truckee to a 23-14 lead going into the final quarter.
In the fourth quarter, Truckee quickly extended their lead back into double digits when Annika Thayer, who was playing with four fouls, grabbed a missed free throw and put it in.
The Pirates pulled back within eight points after sophomore Emma Humes knocked in the team’s first 3-pointer of the game. A Truckee turnover would lead to another Moapa Valley basket, cutting the lead to six.
“They were in our faces and very aggressive,” said Tanner on the Moapa Valley defense.
From there the teams traded baskets as the Wolverines clung to a six-point lead with around 2 minutes remaining.
On the next possession, the ball found its way into the hands of Truckee’s most clutch shooter, junior Emma Cooley, who buried a dagger from beyond the 3-point line to put the Wolverines back up by nine.
Cooley, who’s hit several big shots for Truckee this season, said there wasn’t any doubt the ball was going in once it left her hand.
“Yeah, (I knew),” she said after the game. The 3-pointer was just the second of the game for Truckee.
Following a turnover by Moapa Valley, Annika Thayer scored again. And from there, Cooley and senior Emily Monson each knocked down a pair of free throws to seal a 38-26 victory and a trip into today’s state championship game.
“It means a lot,” said Cooley on reaching the title game. “Last year, we lost some really good players, and so it shows how much of a team we’ve become.”
Truckee will now face off against Fernley for the fourth time this season. The Vaqueros are coming off a 57-51 win yesterday against Pahrump, and have beaten Truckee in all three matchups this season. The two teams went down to the wire when they played last Saturday for the Northern League championship. Fernley won that contest 50-47.
“We’re going to have to step it up, minimize our turnovers, and focus on the shots that we are taking,” said Tanner.
The tipoff for the Class 3A girls’ state championship is set for noon today at Lawlor Events Center in Reno.
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