Anne Smith wants to send a message.
Pack Reno High’s gymnasium tonight. Take all available seats. Make it standing-room only.
The Lady Wave basetkabll team goes for its second state title in a row today when Fallon opens with Virgin Valley in the second semifinal at 6:30 p.m. The winner faces either Lowry or Mojave on Saturday at Lawlor Events Center for the state title.
“It’s a phenomenal group of girls. They represent the community and school so well,” Smith said.
Fallon’s been hungry for this opportunity since it won the school’s first sanctioned title last winter in Las Vegas. After losing one senior, point guard Zoey Swisher, the Lady Wave has continue reaffirming itself as the team to beat in not just the region but the entire state. Fallon recorded its third perfect league season in a row and won its second consecutive regional title last weekend over rival Lowry.
Instead of being the hunter, though, this year’s team is now the target. But that’s a good thing. Smith has developed model that all teams strive for and there hasn’t been a more dominating team in the region in the last three years.
Just look at how Fallon did against the 4A this season. The Lady Wave defeated Spanish Springs, Douglas and McQueen by double-digits. They knocked off Bishop Manogue on the road and lost at Reno by four points. Reno and McQueen are in this week’s state tournament.
Fallon is not just the best team in their league. Fallon’s one of the best teams in Northern Nevada. Period.
But the work doesn’t stop because they’ve been able to conquer their opponents throughout the season.
“We have to work 10 times harder this year because everyone wants to beat us. We must play 110 percent on every possession and play our game,” Fallon senior Caitlyn Welch said.
But to Fallon’s benefit, the players and coaching staff know what it takes to win state. They showed it last year, holding off a relentless Lowry squad that upset Fallon two years ago in the regional on a last-second 3-pointer.
“Last year is beneficial for the returners because we know the atmosphere that state has, which is different from league play and even playoffs,” Welch said.
And while Fallon was able to cruise past the Buckaroos in the second half of last weekend’s regional championship, Lowry caught Fallon by surprise in the first half, trailing by single digits at the break.
You hear it all the time that teams learn more from a loss than a win. Although Fallon extended its winning streak to seven over Lowry, that first half gave the coaches an opportunity prepare for a possible rematch. Don’t be surprised if Lowry and Fallon are dueling once more on Saturday.
“They always come ready to play,” Smith said of Lowry. “(The first half) is a good challenge. We needed that especially now that we’re going to state. That’s only going to help us. We really watched that first half.”
But Fallon must first get past Virgin Valley today before it can worry about Saturday. The Lady Wave defeated the Bulldogs by 12 in last year’s state semifinal.
“For us to win it all again, we need to take care of all the little details like boxing out and crashing the boards,” Welch said. “We need to win every possession and keep the intensity up the entire game.”
Come to Reno tonight. Bring the kids. Pack the gym and show how much this community cares about the Lady Wave program.
They deserve your continued support and need it more than ever to bring another state trophy back to the valley. Be the Sixth Wave.
Thomas Ranson can be contacted at email@example.com.