Lady Wave’s bench runs deep this season |

Lady Wave’s bench runs deep this season

Thomas Ranson
Fallon's Zoey Swisher (3) and Kaitlyn Hunter (10) play aggressive defense in the quarterfinal game against Fernley.

John Wooden is a common household name when it comes to basketball.

The great architect of college basketball always preached that a strong defense will win you games, even if the offense is out of rhythm that night. And as the adage goes, defense wins championships.

For the Lady Wave basketball team, that same mantra has helped carry this young group through the regular season when it finished undefeated in 26 games before losing a heartbreaker to Lowry in the regional title game.

But because of the defense, Fallon punched its ticket to the state tournament the night before, limiting Fernley to 21 points during the route last week.

From the stifling full-court pressure to the grabbing the defensive rebounding to jump-start the offense, Fallon has spent the last two months tormenting opposing offenses. Every rebound and every loose ball are fought for. The defense plays so close to the opponent that it takes lucky, well-defended shot to defeat it.

In other words, the Lady Wave’s defense is pretty good.

Fallon is holding teams to 29.9 points per game in 27 contests and has surrendered only 50 or more points on three occasions, but hasn’t given up anything north of 58. More than half of Fallon’s wins came when the Lady Wave gave up 30 or less points.

“We work really well together as a team. We talk a lot,” said guard Zoey Swisher, who’s responsible for guarding the opponent’s top long-range shooter. “We know where each other is going to be om the court before we’re there. The biggest part is we trust each other and know where we’re going to be and we click. We know we’re going to do our part. That has been our consistent factor in all our games. It’s our defense.”

The Greenwave average 16 steals per game because of that pressure that forces teams to think quicker and often times, throw errant passes while stuck in traffic. Guard Leilani Otuafi leads the team with 4.0 steals per game while teammate Caitlyn Welch averaged 3.6. Blocks have come in handy, too, with Fallon average almost two blocks per game as Otuafi also leads the team with 1.0. per game.

While her name isn’t too common on defense in the box score, Megan McCormick’s post work with Faith Cornmesser and Leta Otuafi blocks out the inside game and forces the opposition to find an alternative scoring method, normally shooting long range.

“The defense has to be there every game,” McCormick said. “Our defense works a lot. We just have to communicate. Our offense was just a little shaky (in the Lowry loss).”

In today’s state semifinal against Spring Valley, Fallon’s defense will be tested as it faces a strong offensive scheme. The Grizzlies average almost 58 points per game and have three players averaging in double figures.

For Fallon to have a chance at advancing today to the state championship, the defense will be called upon to give the offense a chance to prove that Saturday’s loss to Lowry was a fluke.

“.If we had to lose one, this was the one to lose it,” McCormick said about last weekend. “I hope it lights a fire in our team and puts a burr in our saddle, and pushes us and encourages us to do better so we don’t have to go through another loss.”

After all, Wooden said it best. Last weekend’s loss can lead to this weekend’s success.