Elko stops Greenwave in key Northern 3A game
LVN Editor Emeritus
Fallon threw a gala extravaganza, but Elko crashed the party.
With an estimated record crowd of more than 1,500 screaming fans from Elko and Fallon crammed into the Elmo Dericco Gym for a white-out game sponsored by the city of Fallon, Elko stunned the Greenwave in a crucial Northern 3A boys basketball game Friday, downing the hosts 69-52 to remain alone in first place.
Elko quieted the raucous crowd in the second half to pull away from Fallon en route to a 17-point win to improve to 12-0 in league and 16-2 overall. The Wave suffered its second loss of the season, both to Elko. Combined with a 58-22 win over Spring Creek on Saturday, Fallon is 12-2 in league and 20-2 overall.
A sea of white shirts and the Greenwave fight song blaring before the tipoff was a prelude to a hard-fought game between the two top teams in the Northern 3A.
The rematch raised high expectations from the partisan Greenwave crowd, hoping Fallon could avenge a double-overtime loss to Elko in mid-December.
“It’s not a loss; it’s a learning lesson,” said Fallon coach Chelle Dalager. “Elko plays tough defense, but we didn’t finish. We had good looks at the basket. We missed in the paint. We also didn’t rebound. I told the team that the keys for this game will be rebounding and not play above themselves, and just play our game. They struggled with both of those things.”
Once they settled down in the first quarter, Fallon rallied to take the lead, but Elko overcame a four-point Fallon lead early in the second quarter and then outscored the Wave 21-11 to take a halftime lead.
Elko tied the game at 23 with 4:38 remaining before halftime when Ronny Rowley’s 3-point shot arched through the net— his second of the game— from the corner. Neither team could mount a lead of more than three points until the last 1:49.
Sean Klekas’ hard-charging one-handed layup gave Elko a 29-26 lead, but Fallon responded with a layup maneuvered by David McFalls and Brock Richardson’s baseline layup with little resistance. Elko’s Joe Simpson and Fallon’s Thomas Steele traded layups to keep the score tied before the Indians finished the half with four straight points capped with Klekas’ first 3-point basket of the night. Klekas and Rowley each scored a team-high 16 points for Elko.
“We didn’t rotate really well on defense,” Dalager said. “We didn’t have good backside rotation. We just didn’t rotate to the high post like we were supposed to.”
Elko relentlessly boxed out Fallon and kept the Wave to one and two offensive shots during a 20-9 third quarter. It didn’t help, either, with Elko’s hot shooting continuing into the quarter after grabbing a 36-32 halftime lead. Rowley successfully launched a pair of treys, and the brothers Klekas — Michael and Alex — each swished a 3-pointer.
Fallon missed more than its share of easy shots underneath the basket due in part of Elko’s pressure defense hurrying Fallon’s shooting down low in putting together a 10-4 run. The Wave’s Hayden Strasdin scored seven of his game-high nine points in the quarter, the first being a soft one-handed shot off the back rim.
The Indians found a way to stop Fallon’s leader in 3-point shots, John Cooley, who was held scoreless. Steele, who normally hits in double figures, was kept to eight points, facing a double-team for most of the second half.
Elko, though, took its largest lead in the game — to that point — after Alex Klekas swished a trey from in front of the Elko bench and then the Indians padded their lead to 15 points. Avery Strasdin knocked down a basket before Elko tallied the final five points by boxing out Fallon and crashing the boards like storm waves pounding the Lahontan shore. Elko also adjusted its defense to keep Fallon’s leading scorer Elijah Jackson quiet in the third quarter after he scored 13 first-half points.
The Indians kept the lid on the pressure cooker in the final quarter, stopping the Wave from making any scoring runs. Rowley and Michael Klekas positioned themselves under the basket not only on defense but also on offense, ensuring Fallon took no more than one shot.
Jackson, though, finally scored a basket at the 5:48 mark by snaking his way around Rowley to cut the Elko lead to 11. Elko had a four-point response with a pair of free throws from Alex Klekas and Rowley’s set shot from 10-feet. Trey Rooks penetrated the defense and put back Jackson’s missed shot. Jackson, though, still attacked the Elko defense with an underhand layup and a layin in the waning seconds and finished the game as the leading scorer with 20 points.
Down the stretch both Sean and Michael Klekas combined 4 of 4 from the free throw line, and Cooper Jones worked the baseline for an uncontested layup.
Elko’s control contrasted to Fallon’s heart-filled first quarter in which the Wave rallied for a 21-15 lead. After Jackson tied the game at 2 on a 10-foot jump shot, the Indians scored six unanswered points. Three Michael Klekas baskets all came from the inside on a putback, a left-handed baseline layin and a spinning layup.
Jackson, though, staked out his territory and drained a 3 from in front of the Elko bench and then another 3-pointer from almost the same spot to result in a tied game at 11. Jackson’s third trey from top of the key gave Fallon a 14-11 lead, and Rooks’ layup on a second attempt put Fallon in good position.
Elko sliced the lead to 16-15, but Elko fouled McFalls on a layup, and he made a free throw.
“We didn’t have a couple kids show up,” Dalager pointed out. “We had a couple kids who tried to do too much. It’s nice to have that atmosphere but they’re not used to it. They’re not used to having a packed gym like that, whereas Elko is.”
Dalager said Elko plays in that type of atmosphere every night when the team plays a game.
“It was a little overwhelming. Maybe we got too caught up and didn’t focus,” she added.
Fallon 58, Spring Creek 22
Less than 24 hours after Friday’s clash, the Greenwave returned to top offensive form against Spring Creek.
With the team’s five seniors starting in the final home game of their careers, Fallon raced out to a 20-2 lead in the first quarter, initiating the running clock after the second quarter, in a 58-22 blowout win over the Spartans.
“What a great time to honor our seniors. This group of boys has been just amazing,” said coach Chelle Dalager, whose son, Hayden Strasdin, played his final home game. “Their parents raised a great group of kids. It’s hard not to be emotional and keep it together but I have to. I’m super proud of him. We’ll miss him and we’ll miss the seniors.”
In addition to Strasdin, Jace Harmon, John Cooley, David McFalls and Trey Rooks suited up for the final time at the Elmo Dericco Gymnasium. All five seniors scored as Rooks led the team with 10 points. Strasdin scored nine points, McFalls and Cooley each had five, and Harmon added four. Junior Elijah Jackson also scored 10 points for Fallon, which saw everyone score at least two points, including newcomer and sophomore Toby Anderson.
GREENWAVE NOTES — Fallon plays only one game this weekend. Dayton host the Wave on Friday in a 7:30 p.m. game. Next week, Fallon ends the regular season with games at Sparks and Fernley.
Thomas Ranson contributed to the Spring Creek recap.