Lady Wave contenders: 2003 and now
Thirteen years ago, Fallon went from potentially competing for a regional title to fighting for the last remaining bid to the state tournament.
The Lady Wave basketball team held a late lead against Douglas in the regional tournament in Carson City where a win would guarantee a spot in the Class 4A state tournament and the regional championship. Instead, the Tigers went on an 11-2 run to end the game and snatch a two-point win. Fallon, though, defeated Wooster in the third-place game and qualified for the state tournament at the University of Nevada’s Lawlor Events Center.
“It was a very similar type of deal with what happened to our girls this year besides the undefeated record,” said 2003 Fallon grad Terrin (Johnston) Hicks, who played forward for Chelle Dalager. “Going into zone, everyone has these high hopes for us to go to state, and then we get beat at zone in my junior year. In my senior year, we got beat but we still made it to state. We still got to play at the big house, which was awesome.”
That 2003 team featured several Division I-caliber players, including Hicks, Johnson, Carly (Sorensen) Sipherd, Amanda Camacho and Liz Lewis. This group was also the last to play in the state tournament up in the north … until now.
This year’s Fallon squad, coached by Anne Smith, faces Spring Valley today in the state semifinal at Reno High School. Win and it plays for the state championship at Lawlor. Lose and the season’s over.
“This year’s team plays such great defense and they really work well together,” Dalager said. “I like their floor hustle and the fact that they play hard all the time. They have strong leaders and great team work.”
The 2003 squad barely sniffed the state tournament as the season ended after one game, a loss to Bishop Gorman, a team that featured players who would later star in the WNBA.
“They were huge. They were so tall and so big,” said Tristin (Adams) Johnson, who played post during her senior year. “Honestly, we shot terribly. It’s a total cliché, everyone says it, but when you play in a huge arena after playing in a tiny high school arena, it’s weird. You’re shooting at the basket and there’s so much space around it. It’s weird but a fun experience.”
Both Hicks and Johnson, along with Mandie Lister and Loni (Johnston) Faught, scrimmage the current Fallon team weekly, preparing the girls for competition against the Division I-A. Hicks and Johnson hope that scrimmaging them this week for the last time will help Fallon when it faces Spring Valley.
“Obviously, I think they’re really good. They play together very well,” Johnson said. “They’re very unselfish. Sometimes, I wished they shoot the ball more but they pass the ball really well. They have good chemistry and they’re a very young team.”
Dalager, who coaches the youth teams after stepping down from the varsity several years ago, said this year’s team is special because of the hard work the girls put in the offseason.
“This is the first class really since 2003 that has spent a lot of time in the offseason and it shows,” she said. “Our three state championships in softball come from kids playing all summer long, just like the basketball kids in 2003 and the kids on this year’s team. Also, playing at a higher level helps athletes get better.”
Despite last weekend’s loss to Lowry in the regional championship, Dalager’s confident Smith’s group will rise to the challenge this weekend.
“Their chances of winning the tournament are just as good as the teams they are playing,” Dalager said. “They have to go back to what has made them successful, which is post scoring and execute their defense like they have all season. They are a very capable team.”