The Lady Wave delivered a message to Spring Creek on Friday with cross-county Elko serving as the messenger:
Be prepared with a more focused opponent.
Fallon raced out a 24-10 first-quarter lead in its Northern 3A girls basketball game and finished with a 66-36 win against the Indians on Friday in anticipation of its rematch with second-place Spring Creek. Fallon, though, didn’t disappoint on Saturday for Senior Day, stopping the Spartans, 46-33.
The message Fallon coach Anne Smith wanted to convey after Friday’s game was the Wave players were focused and waiting for the Spartans, who battled Fallon in mid-December in a 52-45 loss. With the weekend sweep, Fallon is 19-2 in the Northern 3A and 14-0 in league. By winning this game, Fallon has the inside track for the No. 1 seed at regionals but must contend against Lowry and Fernley on the road.
“They executed our game almost perfectly on things we worked on in practice this week,” said Fallon coach Anne Smith of her players. “The rebounding, the transition on offense … they did a really good job.”
A Greenwave tsunami capsized Elko with 15 points to open the league game before the Indians scored their first basket, a 3-pointer, midway through the first quarter.
Kenna Hamlin’s 3-point shot from the right side came 9 seconds into the game, but the key was Fallon’s defense. The Wave forced Elko to turn the ball over five consecutive times including three on the inbound pass as Leilani and Leta Otuafi and Chandler McAlexander made life a little lonely for the Elko defense.
Lani Otuafi scored 9 points in the quarter and worked her inside game. Cousin Leta stayed low, and had a pair of putback shots, while McAlexander used her speed and height advantage for a fast-break layup.
The central Nevada drought watch ended for Elko when Izzy Eklund positioned herself in front of the student section and unleashed a towering trey for the Indians. Jersey Tsosie later added a basket, and Eklund knocked down a free throw to trail 17-6.
The Wave padded their lead on a 7-3 run keyed on Karlee Hitchcock’s power bankshot, her second basket of the quarter, and Fallon’s patient passing game that fed the ball to Lani Otuafi for a trey.
Fallon kept the pressure on the Indians in the second quarter, but the Indians’ zone defense slowed the game’s pace, and Smith also began to substitute more freely.
“Elko kept the zone on us for most of the game,” she said.
Smith said since Fernley was somewhat successful with the zone against Fallon, Smith said other teams will try to exploit the Fallon offense by changing up their defenses
Leta and Lani Otuafi scored the first two baskets, and Elko’s Katie Ross spun around for a 15-foot bank shot. Any thought of an Elko run stopped when Lani Otuafi moved to the left side and buried a 3, and Alexis Jarrett added a putback basket.
The Wave relied on McAlexander grabbing a rebound and feeding the ball back in, and Lani Otani’s putback after two Fallon misses. McAlexander, who scored all of her six points in the first half, capped Fallon’s second quarter with another nice inside basket.
Despite the “want” to put Elko away in the second half, the Indians became a thorn in Fallon’s side to avoid a 35-point deficit and running clock. The Wave slipped past Elko 16-11 in the third quarter and 11-7 in the final period. Although the Lady Wave played aggressively on offense, Smith said the reserve players need to finish their inside shots like the starters.
“Even though we had the lead and the crowd was noisy, those girls needed to experience that atmosphere, too,” Smith said.
Lani Otuafi scored eight points in the third quarter, and Madison Whitaker added two baskets, one on a cross court layup on the right side, and the second, a shot just inside the 3-point line. Emily Wright and Kinsli Rogne each added a basket.
Hitchcock doubled her points in the fourth quarter with two baskets and finished the game with eight points, and Makenzee Moretto sunk a pair of free throws. Lani Otuafi, who led all scorers with 27 points, had a 3-pointer for her last shot that came from the right side.
Fallon 46, Spring Creek 33
The foot never left the gas pedal after Friday’s dominating win over Elko.
A month removed since Fallon’s only single-digit league win, a six-point victory over Spring Creek, the Lady Wave came out on fire on Saturday, racing out to an 18-point lead in the first quarter before settling with a 46-33 Senior Day win.
“We seem to be a little more fluid in our offense,” Smith said. “A couple times, we got tripped up but that happens every game. We transitioned offensively and defensively. We had a better idea of Spring Creek and who their key players were.”
The second quarter was a complete reversal to the opener.
After holding Spring Creek to three free throws in the first quarter, Fallon’s offense sputtered. Leta Otuafi, who led the game with 20 points, scored Fallon’s only points – three – in the second quarter as Spring Creek cut the gap to single digits at halftime (24-15).
“I think they got tired. That was probably my fault for not subbing effectively,” Smith said. “In the third quarter, we put press back on and got momentum going again.”
Fallon outscored Spring Creek, 22-18, in the second half to pull away for the double-digit victory.
In addition to Leta Otuafi, Fallon said farewell to five more seniors, who played the final home game of their career. Leilani Otuafi and Chandler McAlexander, who each had eight points, Kenna Hamlin, Emily Wright and Alexis Jarrett will graduate in the spring.
“It’s always hard to say good-bye to your seniors,” Smith said. “It’s a double-edged sword. You want them to stay and then it’s time for them to leave.”
GREENWAVE NOTES — Fallon plays only one game this weekend. Dayton host the Lady Wave on Friday in a 6 p.m. game. Next week, Fallon ends the regular season with games at Sparks and Fernley.
Thomas Ranson contributed the Spring Creek recap.