The Wave varsity boys basketball team is planting the seeds of a winning streak with its third consecutive win against Sparks at home Tuesday night, 67-59.
The fourth quarter showed all the warning signs of a comeback on Sparks’ behalf that Fallon has suffered before, but the Wave’s zone defense prevented a Sparks rally.
Sparks left Wave territory 4-9 overall and 3-3 in D1-A, and Fallon is 6-10 overall and 3-4 in D1-A with a game on the road against Truckee tonight at 7:30 p.m.
Though victorious, Fallon coach Brad Barton said his team turned the ball over more than he’d liked, which caused some problems towards the end of the game.
“When you play the type of basketball we tend do, up-tempo, you tend to do that,” Barton said. “But we need to learn how to play fast without playing sloppy, and tonight was a start.”
Fallon’s Clay Davison displayed dominance in height in winning the tip-off, an early advantage that let Thomas Diaz put the Wave on the board with a basket, 2-0.
The Railroaders were less prone to mismatches with players equal in height and stature that, theoretically, could keep pace with Fallon.
This was not the case, and after baskets by Marshall Coverston, Dylan Rassmussen and Dalton Kaady along with a 3-pointer by Cade Vercellotti, the Wave led 12-0 looking like they might close the first quarter with a shutout.
Barton commended Coverston again as a court manager, particularly for his ability as a leader to avoid turnovers while leading the team.
Sparks’ Augustin Juarez broke the silence for his team, scoring a basket after two deflections by Davison.
The Railroaders managed one more turnover in the last minute that gave Sparks’ Matthew Longland the room under the net to score, but the first quarter ended with the Wave ahead, 12-4.
Sparks once again exhibited the potential to jump ahead with a fast-passing perimeter strategy that set up their big shooters at the far posts, such as with Ricky Guadron, who had the first of several 3-pointers in the game for Sparks.
The Wave did the same by slowing down and setting up, and Vercellotti hit a 3-pointer that lifted the Wave 20-12.
Vercellotti was shadowed by Sparks’ John Anguiano, who seemed to mirror Vercellotti in speed and size.
Anguiano stole from Vercellotti and gave Sparks’ Bruce Hicks the opening to make a 3-pointer. In a brief game of catch up, soon the Wave barely led 24-23.
The two teams’ equal speeds kept the game close, but the Wave closed the first half with a 31-27 lead.
Looking like they’d learned from past losses in the second half, the Wave opened with high energy in the third quarter and scored two 3-pointers by Coverston and Davison consecutively, bolstering a 37-27 lead.
The Wave managed to keep a frequent 10-point distance ahead of Sparks, avoiding turnovers through perimter passing instead of picking fights for possession under the net they knew they would lose.
“We were passing the ball into their hands, making difficult passes when there were easy passes to be made on the court. So that’s just learning how to play in that tempo, again, and we still have to play clean,” Barton said.
Fallon led 50-38 by the end of the third quarter, and Sparks would go out fighting in the fourth quarter when the personal fouls began to stack for both teams.
At that point, free throw averages created a new anxiety, since Fallon’s shooters were missing every other free throw and Sparks’ shooters were more consistent.
“We didn’t shoot very well tonight again, so we need to work on free throws and we need to learn to play with more composure,” Barton said on the fourth quarter tension that nearly cost Fallon the game.
Despite a smooth 3-pointer by Guadron and several 3-point attempts by Sparks’ Longland and Justin Gomez, Fallon’s shooters were just successful enough in freethrows and glass action that they outran the Railroaders in the last few minutes and won 67-59.
Barton gave props to his players and said they are starting to play better together, but that they would still need to maintain composure to compete with Truckee tonight in light of Fallon’s Dylan Ridenour, who is out for at least another two weeks due to injury.
“They’re two very similar teams, Sparks and Truckee,” Barton said. “Truckee doesn’t have a whole lot of height and they have to play scrappy to get their wins, and that’s how Sparks is too– they play hard and play scrappy, so we have to play with composure so the game doesn’t get out of control and look ugly.”