Dayton boys working on playing well, not opponent |

Dayton boys working on playing well, not opponent

Nevada Appeal Sports Writer

There are advantages and disadvantages to coming into the playoffs as the top seed.

The obvious advantage is that you get an extra day to prepare and don’t have to play three games in three days.

The disadvantage is you don’t know who you are preparing for, so you either work on improving your team or split practice time preparing for both possible opponents.

Dayton boys coach T.W. Cunningham decided on the former, and he hopes the hard work pays dividends when the Dust Devils open the Northern Nevada 3A playoffs against Spring Creek tonight at 7:30 at Reed High School.

“I’ve been trying to prepare for us to play well,” said Cunningham, who guided the Dust Devils to an 8-4 record.

“We’ve been working on knocking down the open shot and finishing lay-ups. Free throws have hurt us down the stretch.

“I didn’t have a preference on who were going to play. I think if we play well that things will take care of themselves.”

Dayton enters the playoffs a bit undermanned, as 6-3 senior Dakota Lee has a staph infection and just got out of the hospital, and he won’t be active.

“Anytime you lose a starter, it hurts,” Cunningham said. “He hit a lot of big shots early in the year. We need guys to continue to step up and fill the void. We should be OK on the boards (without Lee), but we lose a little leadership and scoring.”

Chris Sikora and Nate Vonahsen have been sharing Lee’s spot for the past few games. They give the Dust Devils a little more quickness at that position, but not as much bulk.

Kage Walker will start at point guard. Walker has been shooting the ball well, according to Cunningham. Walker is one of the top 3-point threats on the team.

Cunningham needs to find some other scoring options, so that Tannar Wood doesn’t get double-teamed throughout the game. All it takes is a couple of 3-pointers to drop to get some of the defensive pressure away from him.

The Spartans and Dust Devils split during the regular season. Dayton won 56-51 and lost 70-66.

Spring Creek’s offense comes from three main sources ” David Morrell, Brooks Brunson and Brett Pickett.

Morrell, a 6-3 guard, averages 21.3 a game, while the 6-1 Pickett and 6-4 Brunson are at 7.9 and 7.2, respectively.

“Spring Creek is big and physical,” Cunningham said. “They are playing really well; one of the hottest teams in the league.

Morrell is a good basketball player. When guys are hitting shots from the outside that makes them even more dangerous.”

NOTES: Conner Conroy missed Wednesday’s practice with flu-like symptoms, but Cunningham expects him to play, though he won’t start … Cunningham called up two players from the JV squad ” Martin Macias and Aidan Gomez. Macias actually started the season on the varsity roster, but was moved down to JV to get more playing time.