OPENING A new chapter
The Lady Wave Basketball team shoots for a perfect league season this weekend as they enter the Northern 3A regional tournament.
The girls’ basketball team had an amazing season, finishing undefeated in league, 16-0, and 22-3 overall. The Greenwave boys ended 7-9 in league and 10-14 overall.
The Lady Wave plays their first game of the tournament tonight at 6:20 p.m. at the Winnemucca Events Center. Last night, the Greenwave boys played Spring Creek but final scores were unavailable at press time. The winner of the boys’ game plays Elko tonight in the semifinals at 8 p.m.
Tomorrow’s championship round begins with the girls at 3 p.m. and the boys at 5 p.m. If they win today, the Lady Wave will play Fernley or Spring Creek. If the boys won both their games, they’ll face South Tahoe, Fernley or Dayton.
Fallon girls’ coach Anne Smith said her team is ready, and she’s looking forward to the tournament. She said they’ve been practicing hard and the team is focused on getting through the next few games.
“We’ve had a good week of practices so we’re ready,” she said.
According to Smith, the players are nervous but excited to go into tournament. She said this was a good sign and it means they’re ready. She said she hopes they’re not too nervous, though, since it can also lead to problems during the game.
The Lady Wave defeated Fernley and Spring Creek during the regular season. They won against Fernley 61-33 and 63-33; they defeated Spring Creek 52-26 and 56-31.
Smith said she’s not counting on anything though and past results can’t be taken for granted in playoffs.
“Either way it’s going to be a tough game,” she said. “It doesn’t really matter who we play.”
The Lady Wave’s victories have been team efforts with everyone contributing their strengths. Lailani Otuafi has been a team leader in stats, scoring 311 points with 41 three-pointers, 50 free throws, 122 rebounds, 70 assists and 94 steals. Faith Cornmesser and Caitlyn Welch have also had strong seasons — Cornmesser has scored 236 points with 68 free throws and 208 rebounds; Welch has scored 242 points with 34 treys, 30 free throws, 97 rebounds and 96 steals.
Boys’ coach Brad Barton said his team was playing well before the tournament. He said the players were upbeat and positive and had high hopes of surprising the competition and going all the way to state.
“We’ve got to take it one game at a time right now,” Barton said. “We’ve got to play a really good game against Spring Creek.”
The Greenwave boys lost both regular season games against Spring Creek 63-59 and 58-53; they also lost against Elko, 63-29 and 67-44.
Barton isn’t fazed by this though; he noted playoffs are like a brand new season. He said the atmosphere is completely different, and his young players must get used to playing in a more hostile environment.
“It’s a great experience for these younger kids to go in and see that kind of atmosphere and get used to it,” Barton said. “Hopefully we’ll get back there the next couple years … some of these kids have a chance of making four more trips to playoffs if they continue to grow and progress.”
The boys’ team has a number of strong players this season. Elijah Jackson has been a top scorer with 271 points from 14 three-pointers and 49 free throws. Christian Nemeth has scored 181 points with one trey, 44 free throws and 80 rebounds; he’s followed by Nick Smith’s 169 points, 23 treys, 16 free throws and 109 rebounds. Dalton Kaady has 158 points, 22 three-pointers, 30 free throws, 63 rebounds, 64 assists and 42 steals.
In the end, both coaches said their teams would play their best and try for a spot at state. If it doesn’t work out, though, the teams plan to work their hardest and learn as much as possible so they can better prepare for next year’s run. The tournament is “one and done,” meaning teams are out of the running with a single loss.
“We’ve got to play one game at a time and not look ahead of it,” Barton said. “We get a couple guys playing well, we’ll be in a good position.”