Lady Wave eyes state berth
Division I-A playoff picture
No. 4 Fallon vs. No. 1 Lowry, 6:20 p.m.
No. 2 Spring Creek vs. No. 3 Elko, 3 p.m.
Winners advance to Saturday’s Northern Division I-A regional title game and qualify for next week’s state tournament in Reno.
No. 4 Desert Pines vs. No. 3 Western
No. 2 Clark vs. No. 1 Boulder City
Southern games played on Thursday and results were not available at press time. Winners advance to state tournament.
One win is all it takes.
One win is also easier said than done.
The Fallon girls basketball team, meanwhile, needs one win to return to the Division I-A state tournament for the first time since 2011.
Standing in their way, however, is rival and top-seeded Lowry, who ended the season on a blistering nine-game winning streak including a trio of victories over Fallon, Spring Creek and Elko in the final three games. Those three wins clinched the Northern DI-A title for the Buckaroos.
The Lady Wave, the fourth seed, aims to pull an upset of its own as they battle Lowry at 6:20 p.m. today at Elko High School in the semifinals of the Northern DI-A regional tournament. No. 2 Spring Creek and third-seeded Elko square off at 3 p.m. in the other matchup.
“First off, we have to play defense,” Fallon coach Anne Smith said. “We’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not what they do, but what we do. We have to produce offensively.”
Lowry and Fallon split its two games this season with each winning on the other’s home court. The Lady Wave won 42-38 on Jan. 11, while the Buckaroos earned a 44-36 victory on Feb. 8.
This time around, however, is on a neutral floor and with how close the previous two matchups were, it is anyone’s game. Stopping Lowry’s momentum, however, is another challenge.
“We’ve studied the film,” Smith said. “When we put a lot of pressure on them, they turn the ball over. The good thing is we are on a neutral court.”
Fallon, though, is without shooting guard Gabby Sharpe, who broke her foot against Lowry on Feb. 8. In addition, the Lady Wave are coming off one of their worst performances of the season in a 39-32 loss to South Tahoe to cap the regular season.
Nevertheless, with a week of practice, Smith feels her club is prepared. But the keys to earning the program’s first state berth in three years is defense, pressure and post play.
Smith said the defensive effort and intensity must be better than against South Tahoe. A tweak to their efforts, though, is the return of the man-to-man defense, which replaces the zone efforts Fallon ran in the second half of the season.
“When we started to change things up, we started having problems,” Smith said of the defensive schemes. “Our rebounding wasn’t very good when we played zone.”
Lowry’s defensive pressure, meanwhile, is what lifted the Buckaroos to the league title. Smith said it will be key for guard Ali Tedford to handle the full-court press and make the right decisions.
While Tedford’s ability will be put to the test, Smith said fellow guards Janelica Galera, Shelby Smith and Patricia Leggett must step up and become reliable sources to break the press.
“Without Gabby, we know they will bring pressure,” Anne Smith said. “We know they are a very pressure oriented team. We’ve been able to beat their press … as long as we have press releases. Our guards are going to have to handle that pressure to set up our half-court sets.”
As for the post, Smith said it is imperative for Fallon to feed Hannah Lindsay down low. Lindsay, at times, has been the most dominant player in the league and Fallon aims to lean on the center to create scoring chances.
In addition, Megan McCormick’s improvement and tenacity on the boards and ability to score in the paint has been a nice compliment to Lindsay.
“We feel like we matchup better in the post,” Smith said. “We are stronger in the post than they are. That’s how I feel we will beat them.”