Fernley boys, Yerington girls head to state

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Charles Whisnand column

Being the No. 3 seed from Northern Nevada may actually work out to be an advantage for the Fernley boys and Yerington girls basketball teams in the NIAA-U.S. Bank 3A State Championships.

At least that's the way Fernley coach Dave Burns and Yerington coach Rod Rundle sees it. As the No. 3 seed, Fernley will avoid having to play the top two seeds in the north -- Manogue and Lowry -- when the Vaqueros faces Moapa Valley at 9 a.m. today in a semifinal game at Lawlor Events Center.

Yerington will also avoid having to play the North's top two seeds -- Lowry and Spring Creek -- when it takes on Virgin Valley at 1:45 p.m. in the semifinals at Lawlor.


"They're a little bit younger this year," said Burns about Moapa Valley.

But Moapa Valley does return its experience point guard from last year's team that advanced to the state tournament.

"He's certainly a handful," Burns said. "He certainly brings the whole package. He's going to be somebody we have to control."

Burns also said Moapa Valley's point guard is an excellent defender and can break down teams with his penetration.

The responsibility of guarding Moapa Valley's point guard will fall on point guard Bryson Frazier and Matt Lambeth. But most of the responsibility will fall on Lambeth to allow Frazier to focus more on his point guard duties. Burns said he's also hoping that the bigger Lambeth will provide a matchup problem for Moapa's point guard.

Expect Fernley to play an aggressive man defense."That's been our bread and butter all year long," Burns said. "I'm sure we'll be picking them up full court man-to-man."

Burns credited much of his team's success to Frazier and Lambeth.

"He has done a great job in all aspects," said Burns about Frazier.

"You can't say enough good things about him," Burns also said about Lambeth.

But Fernley also has a strong inside presence in 6-5 Tim Hines. The Vaqueros have plenty of size in addition to Hines with 6-4 Cody Wagner and 6-4 Brian O'Dell.

Another key player is Adam Schwab. "He's a very active player," Burns said. "He's always around the ball."

Two sophomores who play key roles are Mike Lambeth and Tony Selden. "They're probably no sophomores any more," Burns said.

Fernley had to come back from a 16-point deficit with 2 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter against Rite of Passage in the first round of the Northern 3A playoffs on its way to earning a state berth. "We never panicked," Burns said.

But Burns also said that Moapa Valley is a team that doesn't panick and stays patient. Like Fernley, Moapa Valley will apply defensive pressure as well.

Two-time defending state champion Manogue has to be considered the favorite, but Fernley showed last week it could play with the Miners in the Northern 3A semfinals when it almost overcame a 31-18 halftime deficit in a 56-54 loss.

"We believe we can win the state championship," Burns said. "We believe we can beat anybody."


Despite a lack of continuity, Yerington has maintained a successful program with its third coach in three years.

Rundle was honest when he said he was glad that he didn't have to face Lowry or Spring Creek in the semifinals.

"I think I'd rather take my chances against Virgin Valley," he said.

Yerington may think it's looking into a mirror when it faces Virgin Valley in what promises to be a even matchup. Rundle said Virgin Valley has a strong all-around player who is similar to the Lions' Brandee Smith.

With its size, Yerington has used mainly a zone this year, but Rundle said he may use a box-in-one against Virgin Valley's top player.

Like Yerington, Virgin Valley also scores about 40 points a game. "They're not like Hawthorne, thank God," said Rundle, commenting on the 2A power.

Smith averaged 17.8 points a game in Northern 3A play and averages about 31 minutes a game.

"Sometimes we can get her out for a minute," Rundle said. "You're just lucky to have a girl like that playing for you. Brandee's tough. She'll get to the basket and create. Brandee goes to the boards well, too. I feel honored to coach her."

Yerington has received solid play from its guards, Stephanie Sciarani and Gillette Sam.

Sciarani has been playing with a sprained ankle. "We're still soaking it every day," Rundle said. "I would say she's 90 percent."

Yerington has had a size advantage all year with 6-1 Tarina Townsend, 5-10 Misty Baker, 5-10 Jonnah McKinney, 5-10 Jillian Menesini and 5-9 Heather Sam. Kristy Hurt will also play a key role for the Lions.

McKinney is an inside-outside threat who is a solid outside shooter, Rundle said.

Yerington has beaten Spring Creek and Lowry this season. "I feel we have a good chance," Rundle said.

Charles Whisnand is the Nevada Appeal Sports Editor.


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