Second season crucial for Wave’s postseason hopes
Each game becomes bigger than the last for the Fallon basketball teams.
Both the boys and girls sit in prime position to qualify for the playoffs again, but obstacles do stand in their way. Well, more for the boys than the girls, but it is critical for both to at least finish in the top three.
The No. 4 seed would likely mean a first-round exit, or a strong possibility, in the Northern Division I-A playoffs, despite the home-court advantage as Fallon hosts this year’s tournament.
Starting with the girls, Anne Smith’s club is one of the best in the league. Lowry, the defending state champ, is the class and what Fallon aims to become.
Despite a 56-33 thrashing at the hands of the Buckaroos on Jan. 10, Fallon can and will compete with Lowry.
But first thing first. This weekend’s slate against Spring Creek and Elko is a must-win if the Lady Wave are to have any chance of earning the top seed.
Fallon already dismantled Spring Creek (54-34), which appears to be in a down cycle after years of state tournament appearances. Elko, though, was the benefactor of a controversial win on Jan. 13 with a 42-15 free-throw disparity.
Nevertheless, Fallon gets both at home and must win. From there, the Lady Wave’s biggest game will be the Feb. 7 rematch at Lowry, which may decide the league title.
Although Fallon is looking up, they do possess the best player in the league, senior guard Ali Tedford, and one of the best forwards in junior Megan McCormick.
The two have a championship pedigree and must lead this team to its goal of a state tournament, or even better, a state crown.
Fallon is at its best, even in big games, when they play calm, move the ball and spread the offense. Its defense is fantastic and the full-court press attack is one of the best in the league.
But the key for this club is patience and poise. Too many times shots are rushed, bad passes are thrown and defenses not read.
Again, slowing the game down mentally will do this team wonders and make them an even bigger force in the league and state.
As for the boys, the offensive consistency has picked up. When the Wave finds a balance scoring attack — three or more players in double figures — they are tough to beat.
Riding arguably the league’s best player in Jeff Evett, Fallon has rebounded from a rough start to the season.
But during league play, the Wave has found scoring options in junior guard Connor Richardson, senior Ettore Neiderauer and sophomore Dylan Ridenour. And when 6-foot, 6-inch Clay Daivson works inside-out, he presents another tall body to stop, which most teams in the league can’t do.
The biggest issue for Fallon, though, is consistent shooting. The Wave struggled mightily against Lowry and relied too much on Evett.
While Evett is the best option, the rest cannot defer too much; especially early in the game when it is critical for those other scorers to build confidence.
The defense, like the girls, is solid and their 1-3-1 zone and press presents fits due to the length of players like Evett (6-5) and Davison.
Also like the girls, Fallon must take care of business this weekend, or at least earn a split with Spring Creek and Elko.
Earning the fourth seed will mean a date with last year’s state runner-up Elko, who will not be challenged for the league title, in the first round of the playoffs and a likely early exit.
Take the second or third seed, however, and a berth to the state tournament is more than likely.
Lowry is beatable and a fragment of what they were last season, while Spring Creek is scrappy, but not a power.
Fallon has the talent and skill to earn a state bid, but consistency in big games will determine if the Wave are ready to advance.
For now, though, the next game is each club’s biggest, and Friday’s action is huge.
Steve Puterski is the sports editor for the Lahontan Valley News and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.