It is always the most difficult league road trip of the season.
This year is no different for the Lady Wave basketball team.
Fallon (1-3) rolls into Elko County to face rivals Spring Creek (1-2) today and Elko (1-4) on Saturday.
Spring Creek is the perennial power in girls hoops, losing in the state tournament the last two years after winning it all in 2012. Elko has also made its state runs in 2012-13 before it fell to the Spartans in last season’s regional tournament.
Despite the recent state success of their counterparts, Fallon aims to buck the trend.
Although the Lady Wave opened the season 1-3, coach Anne Smith said her club started to click during the High Sierra Winter Classic last week, even without the desired wins.
“As the tournament went on, the offensive transition work and they could see the success of it, they got more and more confident,” she added. “The win against Galena bolstered them up a bit.”
The fourth-year coach looks at such big, early-season games as a positive. Regardless of the results, Fallon knows what it will have to do to maintain or climb in the standings. Plus, getting the longest road trip of the season behind them is another bonus.
“They’re just as new and fresh as we are,” Smith said. “They haven’t played many games either. We are evenly matched there.”
On the court, Spring Creek is led by forward Maddy Merschel, who is fourth in scoring in the Northern Division I-A (11.3 points per game) and first in rebounding (10.3).
Fallon, though, counters with its own low-post studs in Megan McCormick, who leads the league in scoring (18.0 ppg) and Madison Perazzo, who is fifth (8.0 ppg). McCormick is also tied for fourth in rebounding with teammate Ali Tedford (8.0 rpg).
“I think their perimeter is young,” Smith said. “Even though they are young on the perimeter, we can’t overlook them.”
The Spartans traditional defense of Fallon uses a full-court press to force turnovers and work in transition. If the press fails, Smith expects a zone, last year it was a 1-2-2, mixed in with man-to-man defense.
Fallon’s defense, though, must focus on Merschel and her ability in the post. Smith said Spring Creek’s outside shooting is down, so forcing Merschel to give up the ball is key.
As for the Lady Wave, Smith said the club’s transition offense has been successful, but they must also be conscious of rebounding on both ends of the floor.
“Our transition offense seems to be working,” she added. “Crashing the boards defensively will also be our plan of attack.”
Elko, meanwhile, is coming off a rough showing to open the season. The Indians fell to Reed (41-29), Eureka (45-20), Bishop Manogue (74-37) and Wells (44-28). Elko’s lone win came in a 48-38 victory over McQueen.
The losses to Eureka and Wells, though, are head-scratching. Elko boasts seven seniors including Desirea Danner, who is third in scoring (11.7 ppg).
Although the losses are confusing, Fallon knows Elko will be ready for a critical league showdown.
Like Spring Creek, Elko may also use a full-court press and falling back into man-to-man defense. Fallon, though, has had mixed results so far attack the press. Regardless, the Lady Wave had four days of practice to work out the kinks.
“One thing I anticipate with Elko offensively … is they always seem to pull bigs underneath,” Smith said. “They work well inside-out. We will have to be strong underneath and watch the outside more carefully.”