The regional basketball playoffs for 1A and 3A teams get underway Thursday in Elko and Reno.
The Dayton boys, who got the sixth and final spot in the Northern 3A, faces off at 4:40 against No. 3 seed Spring Creek.
The Sierra Lutheran boys and girls drew McDermitt in first-round games. The girls play at 3 p.m. at North Valleys and the boys follow at 4:40.
Ben Walther’s Sierra Lutheran boys team posted a 19-6 overall record, including 13-3 in Northern 1 A play.
The Falcons did knock off McDermitt (11-13, 8-2) by 13 points back on Dec. 30 at the Rail City Classic. Certainly that gives the Falcons plenty of confidence heading into today’s playoff opener, and a lot of film to watch.
“They have a pretty good player (Cuay Crutcher) and they like to shoot 3s,” Walther said. “They either shoot 3s or like to take the ball all the way to the basket. We know what they like to do.
“We have the height advantage, but we need to work hard and keep them off the offensive boards. We did a poor job of that the last time.”
Crutcher, who averages 20.2 a contest, isn’t a one-man show. Ben Draunidalo averages nearly 15 a game and Diego Navarro is at 10.8.
The Falcons have tremendous balance. Zane Warkentin leads the way at 12.9 followed by Kyman Berger at 11.3. The difference this year is the depth of the Falcons’ scoring. Logan Schinzing comes in at 8.8 and Thomas Mellum is at 7.4. Schinzing leads rebounding at 7.2 a game followed by Berger at 6 and Warkentin at 5.9.
“Defense is the key,” Walther said. “We all have to be in sync.”
The Sierra Lutheran girls nabbed the final playoff spot in the 1A West, and coach Michael Nelson knows he has a big chore ahead of him. McDermitt went 19-2 overall and 8-0 in league.
The Falcons have struggled offensively, and they must rely on defense to pull off the upset. They face a talented duo in Precious Masters, who averages 23 points and 15 rebounds a game, and Morissa Britt, who averages 8 points and 9 rebounds a contest.
“They (McDermitt) will put a lot of defensive pressure on us and they shoot the lights out,” Nelson said. “Masters puts up three times as many shots as everybody else. The biggest thing is making sure Masters doesn’t get second and third opportunities. We have to clean up her misses. She is also excellent at getting to the line. She went to the line 117 times this year.
“We are going to throw 10 or 11 bodies at them and see if we can wear them down a little, and then make a game of it in the fourth quarter.”
Aleyna Gilson has filled up the stat sheet for the Falcons this year, averaging 8 points, 7.7 rebounds and 3.1 steals a contest. Ruth Boogman is averaging 8 points and 5.1 rebounds. The most consistent No. 3 scorer has been Amanda Almeida, who averages 5 a game.
Dayton is in tough spot against Spring Creek. The Spring Creek squad swept the season series by 19 and 15 points en route to an 11-5 regular-season mark. Dayton finished 6-10.
Dayton is led by senior Trevor Burrows, who averages 17.2 points and 7 rebounds a contest. Josh Pasasouk enters the game averaging 7.4 points per contest.
Spring Creek is a balanced group led by Levi Yaunick at 11.9 a game and Jake Oliphant at 11.8 a game.