The Greenwave boys basketball team has some work to do if it wants to make the playoffs.
After holding on to a 59-55 win at Sparks, Fallon dropped a four-point a close game at South Tahoe, 71-67, and is in a three-way tie for the fourth and final playoff berth as the Division I-A North teams begin the second half of the season this week.
Elko completed the first half of the season undefeated (8-0) and aims for another regional championship. Last year’s runner-up, Lowry, has only one loss (7-1), followed by South Tahoe (5-3). Fallon, Spring Creek and Dayton are tied at 4-4 with Fernley (2-6) two games back.
Under first-year coach Brad Barton, Fallon is trying to reach the postseason for only the second time since the realignment four years ago. Fallon travels to Elko and Spring Creek this weekend before completing a lengthy road trip at Fernley next week.
“For the rest of the season we’re going to have to win those games to get into a playoff spot,” Barton said. “We have a couple games on the road that we have to play well in. That bus drive (to Elko) can sometimes be difficult. We have to find a way to get over that bus hangover and play Spring Creek on Friday and then on Saturday against Elko. The second half of the season is important.”
The Greenwave offense hasn’t had much difficulty scoring against its league foes and the defense has been able to hold serve. However, turnovers on offense have created easy opportunities for the opposition. Since the second half of Friday’s game at Sparks, Fallon has given up 104 points, or 17.3 points per quarter. The Greenwave gave up only 22 points in the first half against the Railroaders.
“That was the offense not securing the ball that well,” Barton said. “We need to be more secure with the ball. We need to settle back and have a good offensive possession. Most of the points that come in those quarter are because of the other team’s defensive pressure and our inability to secure the basketball.”
Along with controlling the ball, Barton said the team is getting comfortable with the new system on offense and defense, which could help Fallon make a strong push toward a playoff berth. He said the team’s still learning about executing a half-court offense and trying to put pressure on the perimeter on defense.
“They’re just starting to get the hang of it,” he said. “We haven’t played a good basketball game yet according to my standards. If it starts coming together and they run offense properly, we’ll win those close ones that we lost the first time around.”
The turnover bug, though, played a factor in the South Tahoe loss and almost cost Fallon the game against Sparks. After leading by almost 20 points, the Greenwave nearly left the Rail City with a shocking loss on Friday.
“We pretty much controlled the first half. That Sparks team made a run in the second half,” Barton said. “We turned the ball over too many times. We were very fortunate to hang on. We calmed down in the fourth quarter and they almost tied it up. We made some clutch free throws.”
The Railroaders cut a 19-point deficit down to one with 48.2 seconds when Isaiah Campbell split a pair at the free-throw line. But Jeff Evett hit three free throws down the stretch, including a pair with 12.7 seconds remaining, to seal the win. Evett led the team with 22 points while Connor Richardson scored 12 and Joe Pyle added 10.
Fallon jumped on the hosts right away on Friday with 19 points in the first quarter before taking a 39-22 lead at halftime. Sparks, though, came back by outscoring Fallon 17-7 in the third period and by three in the final to fall short by four.
“They were just on fire in the first half. They couldn’t miss. We talked at halftime about their transition game. They had probably 18-20 points in transition,” Sparks coach Dan Schreiber told the Daily Sparks Tribune. “So take that away. They got two points in the second half versus 20 in transition. We cut that problem to almost nothing and that was a big thing.”
In a tight game at the lake, Fallon’s defense helped in the third quarter against South Tahoe, holding the Vikings to only eight points, the lowest output for an opponent in the two games. But South Tahoe scored 19 points in the final frame to break a 52-52 tie at the end of the third.
Tyler Bagby scored 13 points to lead the Greenwave in his return, while Connor Richardson added 11. Pyle and Evett each scored 10 points.
“They put a little pressure on us and we turned the ball over and gave up easy baskets,” Barton said. “The defense didn’t get back in transition well enough. That’s something we’ve got to practice. They shot well, too. The same night we had a good offensive output was the same night we had a defensive setback.”