NIAA honors Lady Wave in a big way | NevadaAppeal.com

NIAA honors Lady Wave in a big way

Mike Sciandra
msciandra@lahontanvalleynews.com
The Lady Wave basketball team poses for a photo at the end of their nearly undefeated season.
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The Lady Wave basketball team may not have taken home the state championship, but the honors are still coming.

The Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association (NIAA) has recognized Fallon in a big way, as league coaches selected Fallon coach Anne Smith as Coach of the Year and named players from the Wave’s starting five to both All-State and All-Northern D1-A teams.

Leilani Otuafi was named Most Valuable Player for the Northern Division 1-A was placed in first team on all-state, while Fallon’s Megan McCormick and Leta Otuafi made the second team all-state.

In the Northern D1-A as well, each of the Lady Wave’s starting five was recognized with McCormick and Leta Otuafi on first team, Caitlyn Welch on second team and Zoey Swisher, honorable mention.

“It really doesn’t matter which five you have because you know we’re all going to put all of our effort in, win the game and play our hardest.” Caitlyn Welch

Smith said it was an honor to be commended by other coaches in the league, but she still gives all her credit to her team and to her assistant coaches. “They’re a great group of girls to coach and to work with,” Smith said. “Those things, their recognitions make me a lot happier than my own accolades. I was really happy that Leilani got recognized by other coaches in our league. She was very deserving of it.”

Leilani Otuafi and Welch both ended their season among state leaders in D1-A, Otuafi taking third in rebounds per game (4.0) followed by Welch at fourth (3.4) while Otuafi also took fifth in rebounds per game (8.0).

In Lady Wave stats, Leilani Otuafi led scoring with 13.4 points per game and 334 points total. McCormick followed in both stats at 12.4 points per game and 322 points.

Leta Otuafi came third with 11 points per game and 209 points total with a late start in the season, followed by Welch with 7.0 points per game and 183 points total.

Swisher ended with 2.2 points per game, 55 points total, 42 turnovers and 0.7 points per shot. Leilani Otuafi and Welch led the team in turnovers, 106 and 69 respectively.

Smith added she was also very happy not just one other but several other Wave players were recognized for their efforts this season, particularly to have three people recognized on the all-state team south and north.

“It’s very gratifying and it makes me feel very happy for them,” Smith said. “They put a lot of hard work in and a lot of those girls do stuff in the summer as well, so it’s not just a season thing. They’re working in the off season as well, so to be able to be recognized by other coaches in the league for their hard work is really something. That’s a high compliment to them, and deservingly so. I think they very much deserve it, so I’m very, very happy for them.”

Upon discovering she was named MVP of Northern D1-A, Leilani Otuafi said she was surprised and excited but was saddened alongside her teammates with the season at an end, and McCormick ending her Lady Wave basketball career.

Though saddened, Swisher said she was glad to see her fellow teammates recognized after their season.

“It feels like all of our hard work paid off,” Swisher said. “We worked so hard all season and it’s just cool to get recognized for that. Our whole team contributed, and I think it shows with these rankings and these awards

McCormick expressed a similar sentiment and said it was simply exciting to see the league recognize them as a team that one person didn’t carry the Lady Wave.

“You can tell that it was a whole team effort top to bottom, even if some of our other teammates didn’t get recognized,” McCormick said. “Just to see that our starting players are working hard, we deserve what we all got.”

Welch agreed with her teammates in light of their unified recognition.

“It really doesn’t matter which five you have because you know we’re all going to put all of our effort in, win the game and play our hardest,” she said.

Beyond their consensus on the team’s recognition, each of the Lady Wave’s starters also agreed their coach was right where she belonds as Coach of the Year.

“I definitely think she earned it,” McCormick said. “Coach Smith is the type of person that it’s not just between November to February for her basketball season. She’s looking at film all year; she’s on Maxpreps from who knows what time. I definitely think that she earned coach of the year.”

“She put so many hours into this program, and it’s starting to pay off,” Swisher pointed out. “We’re creating a bigger and better program and we’re having a lot of success. So I’m very proud to play under someone like that.”