Postseason Push | NevadaAppeal.com

Postseason Push

Thomas Ranson
lvnsports@yahoo.com

There's a dogfight at the top of the girls basketball totem pole.

With the first half of the league season ending over the weekend, the Lady Wave are tied at 7-1 for first place with Elko, Spring Creek is 6-1, and Lowry is nipping at their heels with a 4-3 record. Spring Creek and Lowry played Tuesday.

After recording a road sweep in Sparks and South Tahoe, Fallon enters the second half as one of the hottest teams, winners of six straight, as it continues its road schedule.

"I anticipate it to be very tough," Fallon coach Anne Smith said about the second half. "The good thing is we'll have some games at home. It doesn't seem like we've had a lot of home games. We've played quite a few on the road this first time around."

The Lady Wave have not lost a league game since the opening weekend when Elko won in Fallon but the Lady Wave salvaged the weekend with a split by knocking off the Spring Creek. This weekend, however, Fallon will venture into Elko County for games against the Spartans and Indians.

Momentum, though, is in Fallon's favor as Smith's club tries to place in the top four and advance to the postseason and a state berth on the line. But if there's any cause for concern, it could be at the free-throw line, which hurt Fallon in last year's playoffs against Spring Creek.

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In Fallon's two wins over the weekend, the Lady Wave converted 24 of 52 (46 percent) from the charity strip, but made up for the difference with offensive rebounding and converting about 44 percent of their shots.

"There's always room for improvement. We just keep practicing," Smith said. "We try to shoot at least 50 at practice, if not more. Toward the end of the season, practices tend to get shorter. We'll do more shooting at the end of practice. You attach consequences to them so there is pressure. In the last couple of games, we've made them when we've needed them. They're able to step up and handle the pressure."

Fallon's defense and solid shooting have avoided games coming down to missed opportunities at the line.

"This team, right now, is shooting the ball from the outside as good as any team I've coached," Smith said. "Gabby Sharpe's doing good from the 3-point line. Ali Tedford's doing well from outside and driving and Shelby Smith, too. The posts are doing a good job underneath. It seems like most of the games, we control the boards."

After facing the Elko county schools, Fallon completes its road trip at Fernley on Jan. 28 before playing four of its final five games at the Elmo Dericco Gym. As the cliché goes, Fallon controls its own destiny and will need to replicate the same success from the first half into the second round of league play.

"We mention our long-term goals of not just making it to state but winning state," Smith said. "We haven't touched upon it yet. We're just trying to keep the girls focused on one game at a time. As tough as this league is this year, you cannot overlook anybody. Everybody is very, very tough."

Fallon easily derailed Sparks, 50-19, on Friday after spotting the hosts a four-point lead after the first quarter.

The Lady Wave, however, erupted for 18 second-quarter points while holding the Railroaders to a free throw as they took a commanding 22-9 lead into the locker rooms. Fallon's defense continued to pressure Sparks in the second half as it held Sparks to five points in each of the third and fourth quarters. Fallon also finished with identical quarters, scoring 14 in each for the 31-point win.

Tedford led the team with 13 points, five rebounds and six steals, while Miranda Ford scored nine, and Kayla Buckmaster, Hannah Lindsay and Sharpe each contributed five. Sharpe tallied four steals while Shelby Smith collected four rebounds to go with her four points. Megan McCormick led the team in rebounding with nine, including three offensive boards.

"This loss was not for a lack of hustle," Sparks coach Frank Avilla told the Daily Sparks Tribune. "Our girls are working hard. At the pace we have to play to stick with teams, we can get exhausted. But we are getting more confidence. I saw more confidence on the court tonight. As far as effort, we're not lacking at all. We just are still having issues getting the ball to go through the rim.

McCormick's play against Sparks only got better the next day at South Tahoe as Fallon won 53-46.

McCormick and Lindsay each recorded a double-double with McCormick posting a team-high 18 points to go with 12 rebounds, while Lindsay led the team in rebounding with 16 and adding 12 points. Tedford converted 4-of-6 3-pointers and finished with 15 points while Sharpe hit two 3-pointers for six points.

"I thought they played very well," Smith said. "South Tahoe got back to within one and the girls were able to keep their composure and take care of the ball and offensively, put some points back on the ball."

Division I-A Girls Basketball Standings

Team League Overall

Elko 7-1 11-3

Fallon 7-1 10-7

Spring Creek 6-1 10-9

Lowry 4-3 8-9

South Tahoe 4-4 5-10

Truckee 4-4 4-10

Fernley 1-7 5-12

Dayton 1-6 1-11

Sparks 1-7 1-12

Individual Leaders

Scoring: 1, Lynsee Ferretto, Fernley, 16.5. 2, Angela Sikora, Dayton, 12.9. 3, Sydney Mock, Truckee, 12.8. 4, Maddy Merschel, Spring Creek, 12.3. 5, Kaylee Neill, Truckee, 11.7.

Rebounds: 1, Merschel, 10.4. 2, Shayla Butterfield, Elko, 10.1. 3, Hannah Lindsay, Fallon, 7.7. 4, Riley Chapman, South Tahoe, 7.4. 5, Marissa Elquist, Elko, 7.2.

Assists: 1, Shay Digenan, Elko, 2.9. 2, Ali Tedford, Fallon, 2.8. 3, Danner, 2.6. 4, Elquist, 2.5. 5, Hailee Simpson, Elko, 2.5.

Steals: 1, Desirea Danner, Elko, 5.2. 2, Serima Thompson, Spring Creek, 3.6. 3, Elquist, 2.8. 4, Ally King, South Tahoe, 2.7. 5, Chapman, 2.5.

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