Defending state champs return to floor after canceled season

Fallon returns 1 varsity player from 2020 team

Fallon senior Collin Brun, the team’s only returner from the state championship season, looks to get the rebound during a summer tournament in Fallon.

Fallon senior Collin Brun, the team’s only returner from the state championship season, looks to get the rebound during a summer tournament in Fallon.
Photo by Thomas Ranson.

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The last time Chelle Dalager’s cagers stepped on the floor, Elijah Jackson sunk a buzzer-beater to lift Fallon over Elko, again, for the state championship at Lawlor Events Center.
Three weeks later, the pandemic entered, ruining the following winter high school sports season. No games were played even though there was some optimism that if cases declined, the Greenwave could still play.
With the new school year and a successful fall season across the region, the basketball season will start this week when Fallon hosts South Tahoe at 7:30 p.m. at the Elmo Dericco Gymnasium. Fallon will compete in a two-day tournament in Hawthorne this weekend. Wednesday, though, will be Fallon’s first home game since the Greenwave won the regional title in February 2020.
“It’s just a season of unknowns. I watched the football team go through COVID testing and not having kids on certain nights,” said Dalager, whose program is required by the NIAA to test its players weekly. “Our coaching staff is aware of the ups and downs we can face. The kids are aware of it. It can be different every game. Every week can be different.”
Even with the new COVID variant looming, Dalager said the team is staying positive and focusing on what it can control this season. The fourth-year boys basketball coach said her team is in good position because of the freshman and junior varsity teams. Dalager noted a few players on the lower levels who could be brought up to varsity.
“We’ll bring up JV players. We’re in a unique situation,” said Dalager, who’s carrying 13 players — three more than normal — on varsity. “If we do go down to the next group of kids, we have some kids down there that are good players. There’s just not enough spots on our roster.”

Thomas Ranson
Fallon’s Jace Nelson, one of eight seniors, prepares to shoot a free throw last summer.

Like most teams in the region, Fallon is limited on varsity experience, returning only one player — senior Collin Brun — from the 2020 state championship team.
“It will be an interesting year. We’re going to be a different program than what everyone expects us to be,” Dalager said. “We don’t have a lot of pure basketball players. We have some size but we’re not huge. They will make a presence in the post. We’re going to be a better shooting team.”
Outside of Bruhn, seven seniors will play their final and only season on varsity, beginning this week. Logan Johnson, Colton Tousignant, Gabriel David, Tyler Austin, Jace Nelson, Reggie Andrews and Francisco Tapia will suit up for the first time on varsity.
Along with the eight seniors, Dalager will carry five underclassmen, including freshman Braden Sorenson and sophomores Baylor Sandberg, Brady Alves, Carter Paul and Kanigh Snyder.
“We just have a lot of seniors but not a lot of experience. A lot of those kids weren't with us in the offseason so they’re new to the program,” Dalager said. “We tried to do open gyms, run a regular season and play in tournaments. Some of those kids haven’t been with us. It’s a matter of getting them experience and playing. They’re working hard. They’re great kids.
“We have some young kids working incredibly hard. I feel like we’re deeper than anticipated. There’s still not a big separation between starters and kids coming off the bench, which is good in the long run.”
Dalager is assisted by Andrew Brown, who coached JV, and Ammon Finch will coach the freshman team and Reggie Jackson is at the helm of the JV team.
This season is also the first under the realignment with the league split into two divisions: East and West. Teams from both divisions will play each other once with the game counting as two points. After the cross-play, Fallon will jump into 3A East play against Elko, Spring Creek, Lowry, Fernley and Dayton.
Dalager said the December schedule is equally as important as the divisional play because a win or loss against a 3A West school is worth twice as many points.
“You can split with the East, but if you lose a game against the Reno (and lake and Truckee) teams, you lose two points. They are incredibly important,” she said. “The thing I like about it is everyone is required to play those games at the beginning of the season.”
Wooster, North Valleys and South Tahoe could be the teams to beat in the West. As for the East, Dalager said Elko brings the most experience back. Although the last two regional and state titles have been decided between Elko and Fallon, Dalager said her team cannot focus on making playoffs.
“We’re taking this season game by game,” she said. “The kids are going to get six games in four days, and that’s a lot. We have a big roster, which means a lot of playing time for a lot of kids.”


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