Robert Perea, The Fernley Reporter
The Fernley High School girls basketball team used some late heroics to pull out a pair of close wins in tight games this weekend to open league play 2-0.
Friday the Vaqueros beat Elko 42-40, and Saturday they got past Springs Creek, 44-39.
In Friday’s game against Elko. Fernley got off to a hot start, leading 14-4 with 3:53 left in the first quarter, but Elko scored the last seven points of the quarter.
Fernley hit another lull to end the second quarter. After Jaiden Sullivan hit a 3-pointer with 4:23 left in the quarter for a 20-15 lead, the Vaqueros didn’t score again and went to halftime trailing 21-20.
“It seems every time we go in those lulls, it’s because we come down and forcing up shots,” Rogers said. “We’ve got to just remember to run offense. Every time tonight we ran actual offense, we got a good shot.”
Elko led by as much as five in the third quarter, but Fernley controlled the first half of the fourth quarter and had the game seemingly in hand.
A fast break basket by Sullivan tied the game at 31 with 5:23 to play, then Hailee Edgar scored on the break to tie it again at 33.
Edgar then banked in a 3-pointer 21 seconds later for a 36-33 lead. Brittney Gaitan followed that with a basket and a foul, cutting along the baseline and sealing a defender behind her to take the pass, the scoring off the glass with her left hand. A 3-pointer by Elko’s Alexis Elquist with 18 seconds left cut the margin to 40-38, and Fernley was unable to get the ball inbounds and turned the ball over on a 5-second count.
Fernley got the ball right back when Elquist was called for traveling, but Fernley again had trouble inbounding the ball and Elko’s Katie Ross converted a steal into the tying basket with 8 seconds left.
“We didn’t talk about it after the game, because we just want to celebrate the win, but it’s something we’ll address tomorrow,” Rogers said. “We didn’t pass it when she was open, we waited for her to stop, so that’s a mistake at the end that’s correctable, and we’ll focus on correcting that moving forward.”
After a timeout with 3.3 seconds left, Fernley got the ball to Edgar, who was fouled with 0.4 seconds on the clock and hit both free throws for the win.
“At the end, that’s just Goose making a play, just seeing it and saying I’m going to go get it,” Rogers said.
The Vaqueros were happy the foul was called with less than a second remaining, in a situation when many officials would let play continue without a whistle.
“The girl had her arm from my vantage point, but you’re never quite sure if the ref’s going to call a foul or let them play, and if it’s happening at the other end, I’m saying let them play, and I’m sure Elko’s coach feels the same way,” Rogers said.
The bigger issue, Rogers said, is that the Vaqueros have to protect the ball and put the game away when they have a late lead.
“It was nice momentum, but with 20 seconds left, we can’t take a 5-point lead and almost go to overtime,” he said.
Only four players scored in the game for Fernley, Edgar led the Vaqueros with 14 points, Sullivan scored 13, Gaitan added 11 and Celeste Condie scored 4.
Saturday the Vaqueros were able to make plays late to come away with a win in a game that had been tight throughout,
Fernley started strong again and led 11-8 after a quarter, but the game was tied at the half and after three quarters
Rogers said the Vaqueros benefitted early by going inside, and he said the difference late was that Fernley’s pressure finally got to the Spartans at the end.
“We struggled shooting the ball, but our commitment to hard work and coming together as a team got us through the end,” Rogers said.
Condie had 15 points to lead Fernley and Sullivan chipped in 10.
“Celeste did a great job attacking the basket and creating fouls,” Rogers said. “She has also really increased her rebounding this weekend which helped us reduce second chance opportunities. Overall we are doing a good job of sharing the ball on offense and our defense seems to pick the right time to create turnovers.
Friday the Vaqueros lost a nonleague game to Spanish Springs, 58-42.
The Vaqueros were in it early, leading 11-8 after a quarter and 29-28 at the half, but were outscored 30-13 in the second half.
Edgar and Sullivan both scored 13 points for the Vaqueros.
The Vaqueros next game is at Sparks on Dec. 16.