Unblemished record has Fallon riding high back into league play
It’s hard not to feel giddy about this year’s Lady Wave basketball team.
Fallon just won the Elite Varsity Basketball Tournament with three wins over Division I schools Damonte Ranch, McQueen and Reed. It finished December with a perfect 12-0 mark, including an additional two Division I wins over Douglas and McQueen earlier in the month. Right now, this team is not only the best in Division I-A but it’s also the second-best team in the region only to Division I state champion Reno.
Yes, Fallon is really that good.
Led by a supporting cast that boasts only two seniors and one junior, Anne Smith’s tenacious group is just getting started after posting its 12th-straight win to open the season. And while Fallon hasn’t faced Elko or Spring Creek, this team is special and could become the team to beat during the postseason in February.
The years of hard work, patience and heartbreak — a common theme in Greenwave athletics — will soon pay off as Fallon is gearing toward making its strongest run yet at bringing home a state championship. And if Fallon cannot complete the task this season, it will be built to make a run for the next few seasons.
This year’s group is well balanced and is good at turning even one of the most dominant Division I teams in the state into a middle school squad struggling to get the ball past midcourt. Fallon’s defensive pressure was on display this week in Reno and when Fallon needed to crank it up another notch, it was able to create more turnovers and shut down schools that should be in the postseason in the state’s largest class.
But it’s not just the pressurized defense and full court trap that are making this team fun to watch.
The offense is up tempo as the guards push the ball up the floor promptly, generally in about four to five seconds, and get straight to work.
They’re dangerous both along the perimeter and inside the paint, thanks to a pair of freshmen, sisters Leta and Leliani Otuafi, who benefited from playing club ball during the offseason. And when these two are being targeted or double-teamed, Fallon has multiple weapons in senior Megan McCormick and sophomore Caitlyn Welch. But the great aspect of this team is the chemistry that begins with its veteran group and trickles down to the sophomore and freshman class.
“It’s going to help us prepare against a different range of girls and what we need to work on,” Leta Otuafi said about the team’s early success. “If we mess up in one game, we’ll come back and fix it.”
While Smith will continue having her team not look past its current opponent, the players feel that the five wins over the bigger schools in the state will help Fallon when it resumes league play this weekend at South Tahoe in the middle of a 10-game road trip. Fallon doesn’t play a home game until Jan. 26 against the Vikings.
“It raises (the confidence) a lot,” Welch said. “It gives us more confidence against Elko, Spring Creek and Lowry and the teams that we’ll be playing.”
The rest of the division will be on the lookout for the Lady Wave this month Fallon has established it’s one of the teams to go through for the regional and possibly state championship.
Thomas Ranson can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.