Lady Wave keeps its perfect record alive in Northern 3A
LVN Editor Emeritus
The Lady Wave and Lowry met for the first time since last season’s state 3A championship game, but the result was the same.
Fallon’s depth and pressure defense provided the Wave its firepower for the night in a 67-43 win at the Elmo Dericco Gym. The rivalry showcased two of the top teams from the Northern 3A who have a knack facing each other when the stakes are high. Fallon defeated Lowry in the 3A championship game in February, 60-45, and also rallied in the 3A softball title game in May for a 3-2 win.
Fallon improves to 7-0 in league and 12-2 overall with games at home (6 p.m.) on Friday against Sparks and then at home on Saturday (1 p.m.) with another rivalry game against cross-valley foe Fernley. Lowry drops to 5-2 in league and 6-7 overall with a pair of home games, Fernley on Friday and Sparks on Saturday.
There was no question with Friday’s win on Fallon’s home floor. The Wave broke open a close game early in the first quarter and continued to pad its lead to give the green and white its 55th consecutive league win dating back to 2016. Lowry was the last Northern 3A team to defeat Fallon.
“This was one of our best defensive games of the year,” said Fallon coach Anne Smith. “There was boxing out, and the defense carried over into the offense. We had the girls running the floor, they got a lot of shots from the transition and mismatches.”
The Wave grabbed the initial lead, 6-0 on a pair of baskets and two free throws, but Lowry quickly scored on a layup from Heather Hall and on Sydney Connors’ long shot from inside the 3-point line.
Fallon then put together a 9-0 run ignited by back-to-back layups from Madison Whitaker and Leilani Otuafi and Leta Otuafi’s putback shot after she drove the entire floor after a Lowry turnover. The Lady Bucks broke their scoring drought with :58 left in quarter when Julisa Garcia swished a 15-foot jump shot from the right side, but Fallon then hit the final two baskets accented by Whitaker’s baseline shot to give the Wave a 19-8 lead.
Smith said the team’s rebounding was unreal and compensated for nearly 20 turnovers and the missed shots.
“You have to give something to take something,” she said.
Although Fallon committed an usually high number of turnovers in the second quarter, the Wave outpaced Lowry, 15-6, for a 20-point lead at halftime, 34-14. Fallon scored the first six points — five from the free-throw line from Leta and Leilani Otuafi and Chandler McAlexander —before Lowry broke another offensive drought with less than 4 minutes remaining before halftime. Garcia, who led Lowry with nine points, set up at the top of the key and launched a 3-pointer. Teammate Rachel Garrison made a 15-foot jumper with 1:19 left, and Ada Bengochea converted 1 of 2 free throws.
The Wave relied on the Otuafi cousins for a pair of baskets. After a steal, Leta Otuafi fed the ball to Leilani who weaved through the defense for a layup, and Leta took the last shot of the half with a laser-guided missile from the corner. Karlee Hitchcock came off the bench and added to the Greenwave’s offense with a putback shot after her teammates missed three previous attempts.
Fallon missed a number of easy shots, but Smith said that didn’t bother her.
“The easy shots plagued us a little over the last couple of games,” she said. “I was impressed that we followed our shots. At least we had another chance.”
Fallon erased any doubt on the game’s outcome with a 22-13 third period although each team, on occasion, traded turnovers when moving the ball down the court. Reserve players Makenzee Moretto and Alexis Jarrett began the third quarter and scored the first two baskets, while Leilani Otuafi’s shot capped a short 6-0 run
Both teams went into a scoring funk until 5:33 when Bengochea positioned herself along the lane for a left-handed layup and Rebecca Kuskie swished a trey. Fallon also relied on the long shot but also penetrated inside the key and rode a 10-2 surge on a pair of 3-pointers, Leta Otuafi’s lead-in layup and Kenna Hamlin’s layup. Hamlin recorded an assist when she fed the ball to Leilani Otuafi, show stepped back in the left corner and released an arching shot.
Lowry scored its next five points from the free-throw line, four from Connors, who was kept to 6 points in the game. Whitaker, though, took over for the Wave with a turnaround jump after rebounding a missed free throw and later leaping for a one-handed layup. McAlexander powered herself in with a layup.
With Smith keeping most of her starters on the bench in the final quarter, Lowry outscored Fallon 16-11, helped — in part — with seven free throws from Sierra Maestrejuan and Emily Backus. Maestrejuan, who has been a thorn in Fallon’s side, also connected on a high-arching shot and finished the game with 6 points. Near the end of the game, Backus took a long pass and drove for a layup for Lowry’s final basket.
Moretto and Whitaker, who had a season-high 12 points, each made baskets from within 5-feet of the rim, and Leilani Otuafi’s reverse layup in the final minute gave her a game-high 15 points.