Off to a strong start
Even not playing close to its potential, the Lady Wave basketball team showed it can compete with the big schools — and win.
Fallon, coming off the school’s first NIAA-sanctioned state tournament, finished 2-1 in last weekend’s Reno-Sparks tournament, notching a pair of victories over 4A schools and coming two possessions away from one of the biggest upsets in the region.
“This early in the season, it’s very nice that we can play like that and still be able to pull it out,” Fallon coach Anne Smith said about her team’s performance over the weekend. “We played well against Reno but it’s very frustrating when I know what the girls are capable of doing.”
After a 62-32 pounding over Douglas on Thursday, Fallon broke out to an early lead against Reno, last year’s 4A-regional tournament runner-up, on Friday but fell, 43-39. The Lady Wave, though, rebounded with a 44-30 win over Spanish Springs on Saturday.
Fallon returns home this weekend when it faces Spring Creek on Friday and Elko on Saturday. Fallon will have Faith Cornmesser back giving them more depth at post. Cornmesser missed the volleyball season and last week with an injury,
Caitlyn Welch led Fallon with 15 points against Douglas and Lelaini Otuafi had 14 while Kaitlyn Hunter added seven. Alexis Jarrett buried a pair of 3-pointers and Leta Otuafi, who sat most of the first half with foul trouble, finished with five points.
“Everybody did well,” Smith said. “It threw everybody off when Leta got those three fouls (within the first minute of the game). Hannah Evans did a good job. The girls stepped up.”
Smith said Douglas looked young and Fallon was able to take advantage with its full-court press.
“That might have been a factor,” she added. “We were able to create some turnovers. In the second half, we had energy on the floor (with Leta Otuafi back). It changes when she’s back on the floor.”
The Reno game was the most frustrating for Smith’s girls. Fallon missed several baskets in the paint and shot uncharacteristically poor from the free-throw line.
“We were rushing our shots and didn’t make the defense work,” Smith said of her team’s short possessions. “We pass and share the ball at one point and we’re not running the offense at all. At times, we had poor shot selection but we did get better.”
Freshman guard Madi Whitaker provided a spark for Fallon in the second half against the Huskies. She ran the floor like a veteran and wasn’t fazed by the Reno defense, helping Fallon erase a double-digit late in the game.
“That was a pleasant surprise,” Smith said. “Knowing what she’s capable of doing, we were waiting for it to happen. She was not influenced by the pressure.”
Leta Otuafi led Fallon with 11 points, Lelaini Otuafi scored nine, Welch had seven and Whitaker added five in the four-point loss.
Fallon rebounded with its second win of the season, taking down Spanish Springs, but needed to overcome lingering issues from the Reno game.
“It was not our best game at all,” Smith said. “It was a very frustrating game. We had trouble executing. We had trouble getting back and protecting the basket. I felt like the shots were rushed.”
Fallon turned a corner in the second half when Smith played the second string for most of the third quarter before putting the first string back in the game in the fourth.
“It give us a little spark that we needed,” Smith said. “We were able to get a good lead.”