Lady Wave claim regional title at Elko
For the second year in a row, the Fallon Lady Wave knocked off Lowry for the Northern 3A Regional Championship.
Fallon defeated the Lady Buckaroos, 66-40 in Elko.
The game started close. Both teams kept pace with the other, ending the first quarter tied at 16 points. Fallon started to pull ahead in the second, thanks to a Kaitlyn Hunter free throw followed by a three-pointer from Caitlyn Welch, 29-24.
Fallon coach Anne Smith said they made some adjustments at halftime and it did the trick to push them ahead. When the teams returned, the Lady Wave exploded out to 37-24 lead before Lowry had a layup. From there, the Wave continued to build its lead.
The final quarter was another close one, but Lowry couldn’t cut the lead.
Smith said Lowry’s Kyllie Sappington and Sydney Connors were powerhouses that kept the Lady Buckaroos in the game for the first quarter.
The coach said Faith Cornmesser played great defense, getting a number of rebounds for Fallon; Welch was another strong player, Smith said. She had a 4-point play in the fourth quarter.
Smith said Fallon’s defense was strong in the second quarter, but the offense struggled at times.
“We just had a few problems being able to finish on our side,” she said.
Smith commended her post players — Leta Otuafi, Cornmesser and Chandler McAlexander — for a great game. She said they scored most of the 22 points of the third quarter and made a huge difference in the game.
“Not only underneath, posting up, but in transition,” Smith said. “I think a lot of their baskets came in transition, they ran the floor very well and the guards were able to pass it up to them and have them finish.”
Smith said she was proud of her team’s defense; she recalled they knew they might see Lowry again and prepared a specific defensive game plan for them. The coach said Otuafi and Welch executed the plan “almost perfectly.”
“Really happy with the game defensively,” Smith said. “Really happy with how the posts controlled the boards … I’m happy with how we played against Lowry the second half.”
The Lady Wave also played Elko, Friday, for the semifinal match, Fallon defeating the Lady Indians 62-43.
The Lady Wave came out strong in the first quarter, quickly outpacing Elko, 17-8. Fallon maintained its lead taking a 34-22 into halftime.
Fallon opened the lead in the third quarter, holding Elko to seven points, for a 50-29 advantage. In the final quarter, both teams attacked the basket; the Lady Indians outscored Fallon, but could not overcome their lead.
Smith said Elko improved a lot since their last game — on Jan. 20 the Wave defeated the Lady Indians 79-26. She said they were ready for the game and Fallon had to pick up their defense to keep ahead. Alexis Elquist and Gabe Rowley were noted as powerful shooters for Elko.
Smith said Leta Otuafi was a powerhouse for the Lady Wave, however, getting good put-backs and drives to the basket.
“Leta really carried us,” she said. “That was really helpful.”
While plenty of Fallon’s players were scoring throughout the game, Smith said their defense lagged in places and allowed Elko to close in.
She recalled they improved in the third quarter, pulling ahead and keeping Elko to seven points. In the fourth quarter, though, their shooting suffered; the coach said they earned free throws, but missed several shots.
Smith said they were shooting 62 percent at the free throw line.
“Had it been a tighter game we would have been in trouble,” she said. “That was a disappointing effort from the free throw line, shooting 62 percent; when you get to regionals and state, that’s not good enough.”
The Lady Wave enters state as the No. 1 team from the north. They play Mesquite’s Virgin Valley (9-3 in league) Friday at Reno High School at 6:30 p.m. The state championship will be played at Lawlor Event’s Center Saturday at 2:40 p.m. against the winner of Friday’s Lowry vs. Mojave game.