The Lady Wave basketball team is preparing for what could be two days of intense competition at North Valley High School in Reno.
Fallon, the No. 1 seed in Division 1-A girls basketball, will be squaring off in the semifinal game tonight at 6:20 p.m. and, should they win, will compete for the Division 1-A championship Saturday at noon.
Lady Wave coach Anne Smith said she can’t be at all disappointed in her players’ performance when they finished 25-0 entering the postseason.
“I thought the girls worked well all the way,” Smith said. “All season and even in the pre-season I felt they worked well. They did a great job as a team.”
To fill out a roster of 12, Smith said the Lady Wave brought up JV players Kenna Hamlin and Hannah Evans, both of whom have stepped up to varsity earlier this season, as well as Brinley Schulz to deepen the bench.
“Hopefully, we’ll get the lead far enough that they can see some court time, but certainly it’s hard to say,” Smith said.
While these three junior players help fill out the roster, Smith also said she has confidence in her starting five with Zoey Swisher at point guard, Caitlyn Welch and Leilani Otuafi at perimeter, and Megan McCormick and Leta Otuafi as her posts. Though the Wave will continue to rotate Faith Cornmesser and Kaitlyn Hunter in as guards along with Madison Perazzo and Stacy Kalt, Smith said she anticipates she won’t change the rotation she’s worked with.
Among the staring five, McCormick enters the preseason with 275 points, 12.0 points per game and 163 rebounds. Swisher enters 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.
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).
Defensively, smith added Fallon is working on ball rotation to ensure her players know where to cover their opponent in a man situation and so her defense also rotates while working on the Wave’s tried and true full-court press movement.
“It’s all about how quickly we move it around to try to get that defense to break down, so we’ve been working on that quite a bit,” Smith said, adding that her team had been preparing for both teams regardless of the outcome.“You have to prepare for Friday night’s games and then you kind of have to anticipate or at least put yourself in the mindset that you’ll play on Saturday.”
With any team on the horizon able to compete, Smith said any team could upset you if a team doesn’t approach the game and don’t respect their opponent, one thing she said she’s tried to pound into the head of her team.
“It’s not who you play, it’s how you play,” she said, “and on any given night a team can have the game of their life. If we’re not playing our best and taking care of all those little details that we’ve been taking care of so far, then we’re beatable if we don’t do what we’re supposed to do. It wouldn’t matter. Fernley or Spring Creek could beat us if we didn’t play our game.”
Despite her caution, Smith said her players have done a good job tackling their own personal goals, such as in Leilani Otuafi’s perimeter and overall shooting, in addition to the goals she has set out for them as a whole.
“We didn’t talk too at length about individual goals, but we’ve talked about it,” Smith said. “That’s more of a personal thing, but as far as team goals I think that some of those small goals we’ve set each game, win the boards, win the rebound war, I don’t know if we’ve won all of them but we’ve come pretty close to the majority of that battle. It seems like we’re achieving those little goals every game, so we just have to keep doing that.”