Lady Wave enters league untouched |

Lady Wave enters league untouched

by Tony Erquiaga
The Humboldt Sun
Fallon's Caitlyn Welch prepares to pass in the Wave's win against the Lady Bucks.

You have to go back to January of 2014 when the Lowry High School girls basketball team lost its last game in the Division I-A North. The Lady Bucks lost to Elko by 14 points that night, but that was the last blemish on the record as Lowry went on to beat Boulder City in the state championship.

Lowry went undefeated in the league last year at 16-0 and combined with the year before, the streak was at 29 league games in a row.

That run came to an end Tuesday night in Winnemucca, as Churchill County never trailed in a 61-35 victory.

“That is something we are used to doing to teams,” said LHS coach Chelsea Cabatbat. “We aren’t going to make any excuses. We were not ready to play. We don’t have the buy in yet. We need to come back to work and get after it.”

The Greenwave varisty basketball team’s next match is on the road at Douglas, Saturday at noon, followed by a home game against Dayton, Monday at 6 p.m.

Churchill County, currently 5-0 overall and 1-0 in Division 1-A, scored the first eight points of the game, six of those by freshman Leilani Otuafi, forcing Lowry to take an early timeout in an attempt to stop the momentum. Lowry scored its first points three minutes into the game on a put back by Payton Naveran.

Naveran was among the Lowry players that Fallon coach Anne Smith had prepared for in practice along with Jillian Albright.

“Albright has been playing with them for a few years and she’s always solid player and does a good job controlling the floor,” Smith said. “Then underneath the net, Payton is a post and she’s a dominating force as well. Those two we really concentrated on and we really talked about in practice, but they weren’t the high scorers so we did what we set out to do and that was good.”

The Greenwave grew its lead to 10 points at 15-5, when the Lady Bucks ended the first quarter on an 8-1 run. Hannah Hillyer started the spurt with an old-fashioned 3-point play and Brooklyn Waller followed with a shot from long distance. Tiana Herrera cut the margin to 16-13 with a layup off an inbound play.

Lowry kept itself in the contest with two jump shots, but it was Megan McCormick’s turn to take over as she scored six of her 17 points in the second period. The Greenwave closed out the half on a 7-2 run to lead 27-19 and were not challenged from there.

Churchill County used another 8-0 spurt to start the second half to increase the advantage to 35-19. Lowry did not score its first points until the 3:54 mark when Brooklyn Backus nailed a 3-pointer.

The Greenwave countered with the final 10 points of the third quarter to lead 47-24, using a 20-5 run to pull away from the Lady Bucks.

“They scored so many of their points on put back shots,” Cabatbat said. “We had more offensive rebounds than defensive rebounds. We got killed on the boards. We need to learn to start executing on offense. We think we have all these shooters, but if they are not making it we are not doing anything else. We need to run an offense and cut back on turnovers.”

Otuafi and McCormick each had 17 points for Churchill County. Caitlyn Welch added eight and Kaitlyn Hunter and Faith Cornmesser each had six. Waller paced Lowry with seven points, Naveran had six, Audrey Snow five and Caitlyn Cooper four.

Smith said Cornmesser was among the players from Fallon who did an outstanding job and stood out though she wasn’t high point. Smith commended Cornmesser for controlling the boards, steals and jump balls particularly in the first half, whereas Leilani Otuafi and McCormick started controlling the boards on par in the second half.

“(Otuafi and McCormick) got in and started getting the rebounds like they needed to,” Smith said. “Really, I think that was one of the biggest keys to that game was that they controlled the boards offensively and defensively. The outside girls were boxing out, they all did what they were supposed to. Faith by far did a great job, but Leilani and McCormick both scored 17 points and definitely filled their role as scorers. They’re a good combination force.”

The win against Lowry marks five wins in a row for Fallon with Douglas coming up this weekend. Smith said she was particularly impressed since Lowry had a deep bench of 14 girls to the Wave’s seven, not including the two JV players Hannah Evens and Kenna Hamlin that were brought up for this game.

“Their coach brings a lot of intensity,” Smith said of the Lady Bucks, “and she can get her girls to perform the way they need to perform. I knew going in that it was going to be a very high intensity game. I knew that they would be defensively very sound since her bench is so deep. She’s working with 14 girls and I had seven (nine with my two JV players), so her opportunity to put in fresh legs is endless compared to us.”

Smith anticipated Lowry would be the first of many challenges in league play for the Wave to overcome, and said it felt great to do so when she was down a few players.

“(Our players) didn’t let up,” Smith said. “They stayed intense on defense and offense, and from the tip off to the end buzzer, they never let up.”

Fallon is a team that prefers a full court press that Smith said helped them compete against a very fast team like Lowry.

“We interrupted their offense and how quickly they could get down the floor with their ball movement,” Smith said. “And then when we went back into our man defense, the girls worked well talking calling screens switching when they needed to, and that really worked to our advantage. Like I said, they didn’t let up. I took the press off a couple of times because I didn’t have a lot of subs to save their legs for the end of the game, but in and out of the full press or out, their defensive intensity was really impressive.”

Additional reporting for this story came from Mike Sciandra, Lahontan Valley News.