Undefeated, Wave rarely challenged
The Lady Wave basketball team made history this season, winning its first state Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association championship in Class 3A.
“Undefeated, rarely challenged” was the Lady Wave’s tagline by the time they made it to regionals, and it was well-earned. The team ended the season 26-3 overall and 16-0 in league. The Wave rocked the competition, remaining undefeated in league and only losing to teams from California or Class 4A.
Fallon coach Anne Smith said it’s been a great season but a hard one. She said there was definite improvement from when the season started with a loss to Reno High School. Smith said the loss did have some benefits.
“It was an OK loss because we learned a lot about ourselves,” she said.
One challenge this season was the brief loss of Leta Otuafi. Early in the season, she injured her knee and couldn’t play. There was concern she would need surgery and have to sit out the rest of the season. However, the injury wasn’t that severe and Otuafi returned to play shortly before regionals.
Smith said the injury was a blessing in disguise since it caused the rest of the team to improve in new ways. She recalled Faith Cornmesser became a big powerhouse; she scored 261 points, nearly doubling last year’s total, and upped her rebounds to 219. When Otuafi returned, the two became a great combination in offense and defensive pressure.
Smith said it was like Otuafi never left.
During recovery, Otuafi kept going to practice and came to most of the games. While she couldn’t do drills, she worked on shooting and exercises with the team. Once she returned, she quickly started adding to the team’s existing strengths.
“Overall, she stayed with us most of the time,” Smith said. “It wasn’t like she wasn’t learning.”
The team blew through the competition. After New Year’s, the Wave began a winning streak they carried to the state championship.
After Saturday’s win, Smith said she and her players were “on cloud nine.” She said the trip back from Las Vegas was exciting and charged with energy with everyone riding the adrenaline from the game. The Fallon coach said the season has been exhausting and lots of hard work went into getting to state.
“It was intense at the end,” Smith said. “It was pretty amazing the whole time.”
This year, the Lady Wave has only one senior graduating. Smith said Zoey Swisher is “a work horse” who always does whatever gets asked of her; the coach said replacing her will be hard. She said it’s always hard saying good-bye to players, but it’s expected since they’re students first.
To the remaining players, Smith said she encourages them to stay eligible to play in games; she said they should keep up with schoolwork and do well in their other sports.