Lowry defeats Fallon with last-second shot
The regionals were looking up for Fallon after defeating Fernley, 54-21 on Friday at North Valley high school, another dominating notch on their belt and a step forward.
But one basket made the difference in the regional championships on Saturday in Reno, when the undefeated Lady Wave basketball team suffered their first loss of the season to the Lowry Buckaroos, 40-39.
A last second 3-pointer by the Lady Buck’s Alyssa Kuskie gave Lowry the win when they were down 39-37 to the Wave in the fourth quarter.
Lowry is the new No. 1 seed in the Division1-A north, leaving Fallon as the No. 2 seed.
Both teams will be competing for the state championship against the Spring Valley Grizzlies and Faith Lutheran Crusaders from Las Vegas beginning Friday.
“That was probably the hardest play I’ve ever defended,” said Fallon guard Zoey Swisher. “It was an amazing shot I give Lowry all that credit.”
Swisher said the team was worried about the 3-point shot.
“We were trying to play tougher on the perimeter,” she said. “We weren’t’ trying to foul. We were trying to play tougher.”
The Fernley game was exactly the kind that Fallon coach Anne Smith said she was hoping for after the Wave’s last performance against the Vaqueros. The Lady Wave began their weekend Friday and dominated the first quarter with their rebounding and causing turnovers from Leilani Otuafi and Faith Cornmesser to lead 17-4.
Fernley’s offense struggled with its passing to perimeter players against a boxed out Fallon team and had no chances under the net until a foul on the Vaqueros’ Jordan Herrera, who scored one free-throw point.
Herrera scored Fernley’s only point before the half ended 33-8 with one last basket by Otuafi.
The Vaqueros ran a stall for the first half of the third quarter and kept the Wave guessing between zone and man defense, which gave Fernley more perimeter baskets from Herrera and Taylor Richardson.
“They did a good job since it’s hard to tell what kind of defense they’re throwing at us sometimes,” Smith said, commending Fernley’s heart in the third quarter. “It was hard for us to know what kind of play we should run because we didn’t recognize what defense they’d run right away.”
Alhough Fernely’s Brooke Chapin sank one last basket, Fallon led after the third quarter, 44-16, and opened the fourth quarter strong with back and forth baskets by Megan McCormick and Leta Otuafi.
Fernley’s aggression held up and challenged Cornmesser for control on the court, but Fallon’s full-court press prevailed, and the Lady Wave attacked the open lanes.
The game against the Buckaroos the next day was a different story for the Lady Wave, both from their game against Fernley as well as any game they’ve experienced all season.
Lowry’s defense boxed out vigorously and slowed down Fallon’s perimeter shooting for a first-quarter tie, 14-14.
The Lady Bucks’ Payton Naveran guarded under the net, rebounding everything from Leilani Otuafi and Faith Cornmesser, while the Lady Wave struggled to find a passing rhythm against an equally sized opponent.
Kuskie’s first 3-pointer of the night put Lowry ahead in the second and soon, Lowry led the first half 24-22.
The Wave rallied in the third quarter after Leta Otuafi took back the lead despite a heavily defended middle.
Kuskie’s accuracy wavered while Leilani Otuafi and Caitlyn Welch found their outside shooting rhythm, and the Wave surged to end the third ahead, 37-26.
“The third quarter is our favorite quarter,” said McCormick. “I’m not sure what it is, but we always come out ready to play. The momentum from the third quarter carried us through to the fourth quarter.”
Smith also said her team definitely played their usual style of ball in the third quarter when things briefly began to look up.
“I felt like in the first half and then in the fourth quarter we played a little more rushed offensively,” Smith said, “and just didn’t get into our swing of things. So that was frustrating.”
While the third quarter made the game look like the Wave could outlast the Bucks in speed, Fallon’s only points in the fourth were free throws by Cornmesser.
With Fallon up by only a basket, the Lady Bucks’ Brooklyn Backus and Kuskie found open lanes going toward the basket and sank one final 3-pointer with a second on the clock to win the game for Lowry.
“Defensively we’ve got to work on a few things to help out,” Smith said when asked how to move forward to face the southern teams. “Offensively we’ve got to play our game. Like I said, we played rushed and got out of our offensive rhythm, so we’ll go back to the drawing board, put some more pressure on the girls in practice and try to run our offense our way.”