Since Mineral County is arguably the best high school girls basketball team at any level in Nevada right now, here's a good question regarding the NIAA/U.S. Bank 3A State Tournament: Which team will oppose the Serpents in the finals Saturday night at Lawlor Events Center?
Yerington and Spring Creek are two teams that have definite aspirations to play for that title, and today the Lions and Spartans will meet in a 4:35 p.m. contest at Wooster High School in Reno to determine who will continue on in the tournament.
Spring Creek (19-12) enters the tournament's opening-round game not only as the No. 1 seed from Division I, but also riding a six-game win streak. The Spartans also have the distinction of finishing as runner-up behind Moapa Valley at last year's state tournament.
Yerington (21-7) finished second behind Mineral County in Division II. Three of Yerington's losses this season have come at the hands of Mineral County, and another came by a five-point margin against Spring Creek in December.
If the Lions have aspirations of playing for a state title, it wasn't evident by listening to coach Brett Edmunds.
"Right now, we're not looking to play anybody except Spring Creek," Edmunds said. "If we're fortunate to get past this game, then we'll start to do our homework for the next game.
"This is going to be a very good basketball game. Spring Creek is a quality team and Randy Rogers is a quality coach."
The game will showcase two seniors who stand among the top individuals in 3A girls basketball: Letitia Talbot of Yerington and Kelli Miller of Spring Creek.
Miller is scoring at a 15-point per game clip, including a season-high 35 against Grant Union on Dec. 2. The forward also scored 20 in the Spartans' regular-season ending 52-37 win at home against Fernley to clinch a first-place tie in Division I.
Talbot, also a senior forward, is among the 3A scoring leaders and is part of an attack that has been bolstered by the emergence of sophomore Kellee Smith.
Defense has been a forte for the Spartans, who have won six straight games since dropping a 48-45 verdict to Northern 4A playoff qualifier Lowry on Jan. 28.
"Spring Creek is not a team that's going to score a lot of points, but they play tremendous defense," Edmunds said. "They have a couple of guards (Chelsea Wilson and Heather Barrett) who really get after you."
The winner of this game will play either defending 3A state champion Moapa Valley or Battle Mountain in the semifinals Friday at 9 a.m. at Lawlor Events Center.
FERNLEY vs. PAHRUMP VALLEY
On the other side of the bracket, Fernley (14-12) and Pahrump Valley meet in a 6:10 p.m. contest at Reno High School. Fernley is the No. 2 seed from Division I and Pahrump is the No. 2 from Division III.
The main obstacle facing Fernley will be a familiar one, according to first-year head coach Dave Burns.
"Their height is going to be a factor. They go 6-1, 6-0, 5-10, which is something we'll have to equalize," Burns said. "We'll try to compensate by making the game a little faster paced and we'll try to pressure the ball on defense as much as possible."
That formula has paid off for much of the season for the Vaqueros, who only have three seniors on the roster - Kim Dunn, Natalia Gonzales and Dena Wagner.
"One of the reasons I've been so proud of this team is the day-in and day-out work ethic they've shown," Burns said. "They've practiced as hard as they could to get where they are right now, and all the work has paid off."
FERNLEY vs. MOAPA VALLEY
Fernley (17-9) will take the floor for a 4:35 game at Reno High School to face a formidable challenge against Moapa Valley - the Division III champion and a team that lost to Boulder City in the 3A state finals a year ago.
The Vaqueros earned their ticket to state by pulling out a 57-51 double overtime victory against Spring Creek in the Division I tournament third-place game this past Saturday in Truckee. Fernley had dropped a 69-62 double-overtime heartbreaker to Tahoe-Truckee in the opening round the night before.