Lady Wave remains the team to watch

Fallon's Leta Otuafi (24) and Megan McCormick (14) gang up on Truckee's Marlena Montano (12).

Fallon's Leta Otuafi (24) and Megan McCormick (14) gang up on Truckee's Marlena Montano (12).

Coach Anne Smith’s Lady Wave basketball team received the senior night send off they were looking for, holding onto their undefeated record against the Truckee Wolverines, “blankity to blank.”

Fallon finished the season 25-0 overall and 16-0 in D1-A, leaving the Wolverines 12-12 overall and 6-8 with three games to go before their seeding.

Smith said she was happy for her players to come out with an unblemished record before entering the postseason.

“For all the hard work they’ve put in all season long, to come out of it with a win, I was happy for them all,” Smith said.

Truckee’s apparent goal in the first half was to slow the Wave down and keep scoring to a minimum, sacrificing big plays for a tight defense that choked the lanes.

This strategy appeared ineffective when Caitlyn Welch focused on feeding the Wave post, Faith Cornmesser, who gave Leilani Otuafi more chances from the perimeter by showing off newly improved perimeter shooting.

Leilani Otuafi led the Lady Wave in scoring this season with 297 points and ranked fifth in the D1-A for average steals per game at 3.6. Welch shot for 162 points and ranked fourth in the D1-A in steals per game (3.7). Cornmesser shot for 106 points and ranked fourth in the D1-A in rebounds per game (8.2).

Truckee coach David Shaldis said it was frustrating because his girls knew what they needed to do, since broke their press all last game and that wasn’t the issue, but that the Wolverines panic led to turnovers.

“We were also implementing plays back then and they didn’t understand it when we introduced it, so we just slowly introduced it,” Shaldis said of the difference between this game and their first encounter with the Lady Wave in the first half of the season. “First she was going to try to slow down the game. Now they’re going to try to drive and kick it. That’s just the natural progression of our play, and that’s the difference. I know the girls, Leilani and Leta, they’re great players. We don’t need to get in a running match just based on our shooting percentages.”

Megan McCormick and Zoey Swisher defined the Wave’s defense in the second half. Swisher stuck to Truckee’s Sydney Mock, the Lady Wolverines’ veritable court manager, while McCormick and Leta Otuafi used height to their advantage to block everything Truckee attempted under the net, feeding Kaitlyn Hunter to run the court.

McCormick ended the season with 275 points, 12.0 points per game and 163 rebounds. Swisher ended with 50 points and 50 rebounds (39 defensive) and Leta Otuafi had 175 points, 139 rebounds and the highest blocking of her team at 23. Hunter ended with 70 points and 64 rebounds this season.

Shaldis said he felt Fallon had a fortunate schedule while other teams still have play to determine their seeding this week.

“We have three more games to go,” Shaldis said. “Fallon got a really nice schedule with a game on Tuesday, then Friday, then Tuesday then Saturday, which gives them time to rest. We had to make up a couple of games in the last week, though, with seven games in two weeks, so hopefully we can stay alive and make it to the playoffs.”

Smith said it’s very hard to say what to expect in the post-season since there could still be some upsets, but she is interested to see where it all falls into place.

“Practices are shorter but a little more intense,” Smith said. “We are still working on all of the little things, the fundamentals that brought us this far like shooting, trying to work our offense, getting our defense to offense transition smoother. These are some things we still work on, but we take it day by day.”


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