Robert Perea, The Fernley Reporter
More than six minutes into last Friday night’s game against Spring Creek, the Fernley boys basketball team had yet to score.
But for the next 26 minutes, it was the Spartans who had a hard time finding the bucket.
Behind a staunch defensive effort, the Vaqueros rallied from that slow start to beat Spring Creek, 49-32.
The next night, the Vaqueros gave Elko, the undefeated league leader, a tussle before Elko eventually pulled away for a 68-51 win.
The weekend split kept the Vaqueros in a fourth-place tie with South Tahoe at 6-6 in the Northern 3A heading into Tuesday’s game at Sparks, their last road game of the season.
The win over Spring Creek was a big one for the Vaqueros, ensuring a sweep of the season series between the two teams. Spring Creek enters this week at 4-7, in a battle with Dayton and North Valleys for a playoff spot.
“We wanted to be able to sweep them so we didn’t get passed up by them in the standings,” coach Derek Miller said.
Neither team generated much offense in the early going, and although Fernley didn’t score until Daunte Ceresola made a free throw with 1:23 left in the first quarter, the Vaqueros only trailed 6-0 at that point.
Trailing 8-3, the Vaqueros found the range for a quick burst in the second quarter, scoring 12 points in less than two-and-a-half minutes to take a 15-10 lead with 3:27 left in the first half.
“We just told them to stay the course and shots will fall, and that’s what happened,” Miller said.
Isaac O’Neill and Rei Robinett hit 3-pointers during the run, then after going to the half with a 17-12 advantage, outscored Spring Creek 14-4 in the third quarter to take control.
Miller credited the players for adjusting to Spring Creek’s strategy of drawing offensive fouls, which resulted in several charge calls against the Vaqueros early in the game. He said they also backed up their defense by rebounding well.
“We wanted to make sure we limited them to one possession, and I thought we did a pretty good job of that,” Miller said.
Drew Miller led the Vaqueros with 15 points, 12 of them in the second half, including a dunk with 4:16 left in the game that stretched the lead to 42-22. Robinett added 10 points, and O’Neill finished with 8.
Saturday the Vaqueros kept within striking distance against Elko for three quarters, before the Indians opened things up late.
The Vaqueros trailed just 50-40 going to the fourth quarter and several times had the lead down to single digits, but couldn’t draw even.
“We gave up too many second chance opportunities on rebounds and you just can’t give a team that good numerous chances to score and expect to win,” Miller said. “I’m proud of how we competed but can’t make mistakes against the top team in our league.”
Robinett led the Vaqueros with 26 points and Carson Kingston had 10.