It was a battle for the ages.
The Fallon and Lowry girls’ basketball teams met Saturday for the first time since last year’s state championship.
“We knew it would be an emotionally charged game, given our history,” said Fallon coach Anne Smith.
After an intense back and forth match, Fallon won 51-37. The second half solidified the win after a close first half ended 27-21.
Fallon’s Leta Otuafi opened with a basket, then Lowry’s Sydney Connors sank two. The Wave pushed ahead after baskets by Otuafi, Faith Cornmesser and Caitlyn Welch for a 10-point lead; Cornmesser and Welch added another series of baskets, opposed by two baskets from Lowry’s Alyssa Kuskie, to end the third quarter, 44-30.
The Lady Buckaroos fought to come back in the fourth quarter, but could only make small advances by Kuskie, Shelby Garrison, Kylie Sappington and Julisa Garcia. Welch, Otuafi and Cornmesser brought in the final baskets.
“It was tough, we knew it would be,” Smith said of the game.
The first half was fast-paced and anyone’s game. Lailani Otuafi opened with two three-pointers, giving Fallon a first quarter lead. Kuskie and Kepa Bengochea were quick to respond though and tied the game, then pushed into the lead. Leta Otuafi broke through Lowry’s defense, regaining the lead for the Wave; a basket from Lailani Otuafi, followed by one from Garcia closed the quarter at 15-14 to Fallon.
The second quarter was another close one, though ended with the Wave in the lead. Lailani Otuafi, Welch and Kailtyn Hunter brought the Wave to a solid six-point lead, while Lowry’s Sappington, Garrison and Kuskie also scored.
Smith noted both teams played a strong defense in the second quarter and it was only in the final minutes when Fallon was able to take the lead.
She said they would have entered halftime with a much closer score if the rush hadn’t occurred.
“I felt like both ways it was tough,” she said. “They were playing defense, we were playing defense … Really, we didn’t score until those last couple minutes of the second quarter.”
Smith said Kuskie is a strong player for the Lady Buckaroos, scoring 15 points even while a chaser was covering her. Smith noted one of the keys to their strategy was to keep a guard on her and keep her pinned down. Sappington was a defensive leader, nailing eight rebounds with two assists.
For Fallon, Welch and Lailani Otuafi led in scoring. Welch scored 18 points with Otuafi adding 11.
The Lady Wave also played Dayton Friday, cruising to a 60-27 win.
Smith said Fallon had even scoring throughout the game. She brought in the bench players early and ensured everyone had a great game with time on the court.
The Wave hosts the Sparks Lady Railroaders this Friday at 6 p.m. and South Tahoe Saturday at 1 p.m. to close out the first half of the league season.