Local hoops teams ready for state tournament
The Galena and Dayton High boys basketball teams have had their share of success and state tournament appearances. But there’s something obviously missing: A state title.
Both programs are more confident than ever that this could be the year that they bring home their schools’ first title from the NIAA State Championships. Yerington’s boys and girls also believe they can pull off the surprise and bring home a title.
The Northern Nevada school that arguably may have the best chance to bring home a state title is Smith Valley, which won last week’s Northern 1A crown. The tournament kicks off today for area schools when Galena plays Canyon Springs at 8 p.m. today at The Orleans Arena in Las Vegas. Here’s a look at the area schools going for a state title:
DAYTON VS. PAHRUMP VALLEY, 4:40 P.M. FRIDAY AT GREEN VALLEY
The Dust Devils beat Yerington 46-40 on Saturday for another Northern 3A title and have lost to Faith Lutheran in the state title game for the past two seasons. Dayton is also making its fifth straight trip to state.
While the Crusaders remain the prohibitive favorite to win state game, Dayton coach T.W. Cunningham said he believes his team is playing strong enough defense to contend for the title. But he also made it clear that the Dust Devils must focus on Pahrump Valley in Friday’s game at Henderson’s Green Valley High.
Cunningham said Pahrump has a 6-6 post player and “some quicker, athletic guards.”
Led by Jacob Jones and Mike Vincent, Dayton has received solid play inside. “All of our big guys are doing a great job right now,” Cunningham said.
While Dayton has struggled offensively, the defense has been superb. Cunningham said the key for his team will be to continue to play like it has because the “offense can only improve.”
Two of Dayton’s leading offensive players who struggled on Saturday, but figure to break out are Travis Wood and Erik Hopper. And even when they do struggle offensively, Wood and Hopper provide Dayton with solid play in many other areas.
Dayton also has plenty of depth. James Yeater, Rory Torvick, Byron Trigueros and Ryan Ransdell have been among the players who have played key roles throughout the season.
“They’ve improved througout the season and played some crucial minutes,” said Cunningham about his supporting cast.
“These guys are definitely tired of being second,” Cunningham also said about his team.
GALENA VS. CANYON SPRINGS, 8 P.M. TODAY, ORLEANS
Canyon Springs (32-2) is Nevada’s No. 1-ranked team. But Canyon Springs hasn’t played the national-caliber schedule Galena has played. The Grizzlies also was Sports Illustrated’s preseason No. 1 in Nevada.
Galena coach Tom Mauer said Canyon Springs goes 12 players deep. “Phenomenal athletes,” he said.
While Mauer said Canyon Springs has some size, he added it’s a guard-oriented team that likes to press and trap all over the floor. “They play with confidence,” Mauer said.
But Mauer said this is the most confident he’s ever been in taking a team to state.
“They’re the No. 1 team in Nevada,” Mauer said. “We’ve got to beat the best team. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
“My attitude has changed dramatically. We’re going to go down there with confidence. I’m very positive this year.”
In both of Canyon Springs’ losses, it was forced into a halfcourt game. “That’s obviously what our style is,” Mauer said.
But Mauer said his team won’t be satisfied with just breaking the pressure. “We’re not going to just hold the ball,” he said. “We’re going to try to score.”
Galena came back to beat Douglas 56-55 for the Northern 4A title on Saturday. “I was real excited about the defense and the rebounding and taking care of the ball,” Mauer said.
Last weekend, Galena made just seven turnovers against Hug and five turnovers against Douglas.
A big reason for Galena’s low turnover total has been the play of point guard J.D. Peters and Tristan Hill. Mauer also said Hill has played a key role in Galena’s ability to control tempo.
Mauer said that all five of his starters (Luke Babbitt, Brice Crook, Peters, Hill and Eric Maupin) have all provided key baskets, assists, rebounds and defense at different times.
Babbitt, the blue chip recruit, is averaging a double double at more than 20 points, 10 rebounds and four assists per game. Mauer has called Peters his most valuable player.
Then there’s Maupin, whose putback tied Saturday’s game against Douglas at 55. If Maupin doesn’t make that play, Mauer said, “then you’re talking to Rob,” referring to Tiger coach Rob Streeter. Mauer added Maupin did an outstanding job defensively on the Tigers’ Jeff Nady.
In addition, Galena shoots more than 50 percent from the floor. “Probably the best shooting team we’ve ever had,” Mauer said.
Among Galena’s top players off the bench are Jake Mansfield and Goose Robinson. “They’re ball handlers and they’re defenders,” Mauer said.
YERINGTON VS. FAITH LUTHERAN, 8 P.M. FRIDAY AT GREEN VALLEY
Yerington makes its third straight trip to state and again must face the Crusades in the semifinals.
“You know what it’s a good problem to have,” Yerington coach Daron Wildermuth said.
“At least we have the opportunity. They have a quality ball club. But I think we do, too.”
After struggling offensively for three quarters against Dayton, Yerington came alive in the fourth quarter.
“That was a big boost for us,” Wildermuth said. “They kids just need to go out and play. If they can do that, they can play with anybody.”
Yerington has four players in double figures Gary Smith (14 points) and Casey Wildermuth, James Roberts and Marcus Kness, who all average 10 points a game. Smith and Wildermuth are interchageable at the guard positions as both can play the point.
The Lions also have three strong inside players in Kness, Roberts and David Martinez. Other key players for Yerington have been starter Tim Fitzpatrick, Chris Smith and Matt Veil.
“I just hope we can go out and play like we can,” coach Wildermuth said. “I’m not satisfied just making it there. I want to win the sucker.”
YERINGTON GIRLS VS. PAHRUMP VALLEY, 6:20 P.M. FRIDAY AT GREEN VALLEY
If the Lions can beat Pahrump, the could receive another shot at Spring Creek, with a chance to pull off the shocker for the state title. Yerington lost to Spring Creek 57-33 in the Northern 3A finals.
“They like to play D,” said Yerington coach Dorsey Thom about Pahrump. “I think they have some athletes. We need to pretty much focus on what we do.”
The Lions will be helped out by the fact that they have five players from this past seasons NIAA 3A State championship volleyball team: Kayla Lommori, Kiara Ross, Dena Helm, Angela Marraccini and Rani Williams. Lommori is one of the nation’s top sophomore volleyball players. “These girls have learned how to win,” Thom said.
There’s also Karri Ann Quartz, the team’s leading scorer. Quartz is used to success as she transferred from Reed.
Rounding out the roster are starters LaReina Jim and Ruby Kennison-Fox, Ariel Richardson, Candice Conway, Heidi Emm, Charis Velazquez and Katie Brown.
SMITH VALLEY VS. TRINITY, 4:40 P.M. FRIDAY AT DEL SOL
David Bozsik should break the state record for most three-pointers in a season Friday with the Bulldogs face Trinity at Del Sol High in Las Vegas. Bozsik is tied with North Valleys’ Archie Kovich with 120 threes.
Among Smith Valley’s other top players are Bill Eernisse, Diego Tovar, Spencer McLaughlin, Diego Vergugo and Austin Carrasco, who was a standout in last weekend’s zone event.
“We’re getting better every game,” Smith Valley coach David Vick said. “It’s a good thing right now. It seems like very game it’s somebody else stepping up.”
Rounding out Smith Valley’s roster are Saul Perez, Taylor Reed, Marcel Hadeed, Paulo Gobbo and Corey Kalata.