Orndorff, Serpents bow out on winning note

RENO - Ashlee Orndorff ended her storied basketball career at Mineral County High School on a winning note Saturday night, when she led the Serpents from Hawthorne past Moapa Valley 44-31 in the NIAA/U.S. Bank 3A State girls championship game.

Orndorff, a 6-foot-2 senior who seems to play every position on the court, scored 17 points and pulled down 15 rebounds as Mineral County (31-1) beat Moapa Valley (26-5) in the 3A state finals for the third time in four years at Lawlor Events Center.

Memories of a 61-41 loss to Moapa Valley in last year's state tournament semifinals carried over to the long-awaited rematch.

"Everybody remembered last year," said Orndorff, who only played in nine losses in four seasons with the Serpents.

"We were talking about this game 10 minutes after the loss last year," added Dave Gelmstedt, who has now won seven state titles in his 14 seasons as head coach at Mineral County.

The Serpents, who only led 20-16 at halftime, were not going to be denied.

"We were so nervous before the game," said forward Amanda Stinson, who contributed 10 points and 11 rebounds (seven on the offensive end). "But we all had the determination and revenge in our minds. We wanted to win."

Orndorff showed her determination in the final 30 seconds of the third quarter when she grabbed a steal under Mineral County's basket, took the ball the length of the floor and then drove past three defenders to the basket for a layup that gave the Serpents a 30-20 lead. Then in the opening minute of the fourth, Orndorff ripped down a rebound on the defensive end, got an outlet pass to freshman guard Delicia Jernigan, who then fed Stinson for a layup that extended the cushion to 33-20.

Even though Mineral County only held a 13-12 advantage in the field goal column, the Serpents shot 16-for-25 from the free throw line. Moapa Valley shot 5-for-7 from the line.

Defense was key another key since Moapa Valley only put 31 points on the scoreboard. Talented Kim Ortega scored 17 of those, but was still below her 19.5 average.

Freshman guard Sidney Orndorff was given the responsibility of defending Ortega.

"We wanted to stop Ortega because she's their best player. She scored some points, but overall, Sid did a great job on her," Ashlee Orndorff said of her younger sister.

To the best of Gelmstedt's knowledge, the 31-1 record is the best Mineral County (enrollment of 220 students) has ever done. The record is even more impressive considering the victims include Nevada 4A state qualifiers Carson (twice) and Silverado, plus Marina from Southern California and Shasta (Redding, Calif.). Mineral County's only loss came by seven points to Bay Area power Amador Valley (Pleasanton, Calif.) at the McQueen tournament in December.

Even Gelmstedt admitted this may the best in Mineral County's long line of powerhouse teams.

"This starting five might be the best. They play so well as a unit," Gelmstedt said. "That showed it tonight, because when Moapa Valley would take one thing away from us, we were able to find something else that was open."

The win marks Mineral County's final appearance at the 3A level - for the time being - since it is scheduled for a move into the 2A when the NIAA's realignment plan goes into effect in the fall.

As for Orndorff, a promising future awaits in college because she is due to take up permanent residence at Lawlor Events Center - where she will be playing for Nevada next season.

"Definitely, I am looking forward to that," said Orndorff, who was handed a blue Nevada shirt immediately after the game by her father, Don Orndorff (a star at Mineral County in the early 1970s). "I cannot wait to get up here and play."


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