Two seniors fouled out when it looked like the book on this historic season had been closed.
But a pair of senior reserves came off the bench late in the game and helped re-open the book. Point guard Jace Harmon and forward Trey Rooks filled in for David Mcfalls and Hayden Strasdin late in the game against Lowry last week in the 3A Northern regional semifinal with their team still trailing. A John Cooley putback sent the game into overtime and the rest was history.
Fallon, which lost to Elko in the championship to get the No. 2 seed, faces No. 1 Mojave from the South today at 12:45 p.m. in the 3A state tournament at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.
If it were not for Harmon and Rooks, who displayed the same poise and leadership as their starting teammates, the Greenwave may be sitting at home. But the performances in the regional semifinal provided fans a glimpse of what these two have done all year: embrace their role off the bench.
“Coming off the bench is important because you have to able to pick up right where the starter left off,” said Rooks, who missed the beginning of the season due to an injury in the football state championship. “There is no room for slacking, especially on this team because we hold ourselves accountable for one another. We expect whoever is in will play the way we’ve been taught. That includes running the court, playing good defense, rebounding, running through our offenses and playing unselfish, all of what makes up Greenwave basketball.”
Rooks gives Fallon coach Chelle Dalager an extra body in the paint to help fend off defenders and go for the loose rebound. And after returning from his injury and getting back into routine, Rooks scored in double figures several times during the league season.
“I could start him but he plays better coming off the bench,” Dalager said. “He rebounds well. He cuts to the basket. He’s more of a threat this year than last. He’s a great rebounder.”
For Rooks, though, it’s about the team.
“I’ve contributed to the team’s success by playing within our system and working hard,” he said. “This is something that we are taught every day and it gets mentioned by our coaches before every game. I know what I’m capable doing and what my role on the team is, so when I step on the hardwood, I do what I can to put our team in better position to win.”
And Harmon is the same way.
While on the bench, Harmon takes advantage of his short time on the bench to analyze the game and prepare to make a difference as soon as Dalager sends him into the game.
“I know coming off the bench is equally as important as a starting position,” Harmon said. “As long as my coach trusts to put me in the game, I will give all of my effort to the game. Then it does not matter if I start. I also like coming off the bench because I get to spend the first few minutes studying what the other team is doing on offense and defense. This gives me a huge advantage going into the game because I know how to guard certain players, and I know how to get past other players before they even see me on the floor.”
Dalager refers to her senior point guard as another coach on the floor.
“I call him a mini-coach. He contributes so much because he’s the smartest,” she said. “He plays like he’s 6-foot-something. Defensively, he’s always rotated to the right spot. He’s like the commander on the floor. He was the only one who does it effectively. I love his ability to work in the offseason.”
As the season ends this weekend, Rooks and Harmon are poised to give their teammates the best chance at winning the school’s first boys basketball title in 40 years.
“This is the ending of our time playing basketball with one another alongside our coach that we remember from the days of rez ball,” Rooks said. “Our basketball careers were started by playing for coach Dalager, so to have it finish in the same manner. I wouldn’t ask for it any other way.”
Harmon agrees. This season has been special because of his teammates.
“We are all friends,” Harmon said. “It makes the season much better because we can all connect, and we have all been together for a long time. This season has been, by far, my favorite because of the teammates that I have with me by my side.”