As Elko was hitting critical free throws to seal its win over Fallon’s girls basketball team, the Lady Wave’s playoff fate was already determined.
South Tahoe defeated Truckee on Friday minutes before Fallon fell to Elko, eliminating the Lahontan Valley school from playoff contention. A loss to Spring Creek on Saturday ended Fallon’s season as the Lady Wave finished 11-15 overall, 4-9 in league.
With their season on the line Friday, the Lady Wave battled Elko, leading by as many as a couple of possessions before the Indians sealed the game, 43-36, with free throws late in the fourth quarter.
“They hit a couple shots and we missed a couple of ours,” Fallon coach Kevin Wickware said. “We had to foul and they hit their free throws. We were up in points and came down to the last few minutes.”
Senior RayAnn Rasmussen saved her best for last, leading the team with eight points. A couple of her buckets in the first half kept Fallon in the game and prevented momentum from shifting.
“RayAnn had a great game against Elko and she came up huge,” Wickware said. “She was a big presence inside. She was in the right spot at the right time to get those points, which was huge.”
Junior Madasyn Moyle and sophomore Vernita Fillmore each scored six points, and freshman Jada Anastasio added five. Seniors Kambrie Thorn, Liliana Bettencourt, Mattea Cortez, Graycee Tibbals and Rasmussen started on Friday during Senior Night, and Wickware said this group kept Fallon in the game.
“All of the seniors stepped up big time in the Elko game,” he said. “The seniors started off having us in the game. They did their job and it was great to see.”
In Fallon’s 47-23 loss to Spring Creek on Saturday, Wickware said the team ran out of gas.
“Those back-to-back games are tough, especially when you have two good teams,” Wickware added. “You always have to do that with Elko and Spring Creek, and it does give them an advantage when you don’t have to play them the night before.”
Senior Kambrie Thorn led Fallon, which scored only two points in the first half, in scoring with five points and senior Liliana Bettencourt added four. Freshmen Janessa Bettencourt, Dylan Ekins-Faught and Anastasio scored three points each.
“We shot fine. We just did not hit a single thing (two free throws in the first half),” Wickware said. “With what we put out against Elko, I was wondering if we had anything left in the tank. The Elko game was a full team game.”
Wickware was proud that the team came back in the second half.
“They did show good resilience and heart coming back in the second half,” he said. “It showed our character as a team. We could have folded up but we fought in the second half.”
As Fallon heads into the offseason, Wickware is excited about the program’s future.
From this year’s senior group providing necessary leadership to the team improving each week, Wickware said Fallon should be a playoff contender next season. This year was a building block toward bringing Fallon back to the same level when it won three-straight state titles.
“That’s what we preached all year. This is not a one-season approach,” Wickware said. “All of our girls, including our seniors, were all for this. I have to give my seniors credit for what they started this year.”
And it helped that the team understood the mission this year and even had a shot at making the playoffs in the final weekend of the season.
“We went into this year with wins and losses not the primary goal,” Wickware said. “It was about development and building forward. To have a chance to be in the playoffs was huge for us. We had our opportunities.
“They truly did understand what was going on. Some of the games we were in and lost that were close were decided by simple mistakes (like free throws). The mistakes that we made were based on experience and they understood that. We ran a younger roster against everyone and they got that. You saw our girls make the right reads. Some of them just played eighth grade basketball last year and were half a second behind.”