ELKO — The Elko girls basketball team has sole possession of first place in the Northern I-A league standings after a 48-42 win Saturday against visiting Fallon.
The Lady Indians fended off the Greenwave’s rally in the fourth quarter to hold on to the crucial win that propels them to 9-1 in league play. Fallon, meanwhile, drops to 7-3 after a tough road trip that included a loss to Spring Creek on Friday. The Spartans sit second at 8-2.
It took the Tribe a quarter to get rolling as the game was back and forth for the first 8 minutes.
“They were playing a little reserved defensively in the first quarter,” Elko coach Camille Larsen said. “In the second, we had a little spark of energy. We were also a little more patient on offense.”
During the first quarter, the teams took turns with the lead. Fallon led early after an early two baskets by Megan McCormick for a 4-2 advantage.
Elko started to assert itself midway through the opening period.
Desirea Danner pulled up at the free-throw line for a jump shot, and Marissa Elquist hit a tough shot off an inbound pass from Shay Digenan to put the Indians ahead 6-4. After a couple of additional baskets by Danner and Elquist, the Tribe took an 11-8 lead into the second quarter.
The advantage did not hold up for long as the Greenwave’s Ali Tedford drained a 3-pointer to start the period and tie the score at 11.
“I think against Elko we were more relaxed,” Fallon coach Anne Smith said. “We were so tight (Friday night) against Spring Creek, and Spring Creek jumped ahead in the first quarter, and we spent so much of the second half trying to catch up. With Elko, we were more relaxed and played better. We played four quarters instead of two.”
With 4:55 left in the first half, Digenan drove to the basket for a deuce, and the Indians did not relinquish the lead again. Danner scored four straight points to extend the lead to 19-13. In the closing seconds of the first half, Shayla Butterfield grabbed an offensive rebound and dished it out to Emily Elquist for a deep jump shot along the baseline for a 23-17 advantage going into the locker room.
Danner and Marissa Elquist each had a big game for the Tribe. Elquist finished with 13 points and 15 rebounds, while Danner had 15 points and eight boards.
“Desirea had a great game, and Marissa did a great job rebounding the ball,” Larsen said.
The Indians continued to pull away in the third quarter. Marissa Elquist grabbed a board for an easy putback to start the half, and Butterfield followed about a minute later with the same play to make it 28-19.
The Tribe went on another 5-0 run after a jumper by Fallon’s Gabby Sharpe.
In transition, Danner took the ball down the court and dished off to Butterfield under the basket for an easy layup, and Emily Elquist chipped in a putback off an offensive rebound.
“We had some breakdowns on defense and allowed them to penetrate,” Smith said. “When they drove, our defense helped out and they did a good job kicking the ball to open players. We also had a few costly turnovers. Elko had turnovers too, but we didn’t capitalize as well as Elko did.”
With a 33-21 lead and 2:22 left in the third, the Lady Indians were probably starting to feel good, but their offense quickly dissipated as they went nine minutes between field goals.
The Wave capitalized with a 6-0 run but could not complete the comeback as Elko made just enough free throws to stay out in front.
Tedford hit a half-court buzzer beater to account for the final tally, but it did not affect the outcome. Tedford led the Lady Wave with 14 points.
“We’re in control of our own destiny, and that’s a big thing,” Larsen said.
“It’s a big confidence builder to get this win, but we still have a lot of games to play.”