Robert Perea, The Fernley Reporter
Several times this season, the closing minutes of close games have not been good for the Fernley girls basketball team.
That changed in a big way last Friday, and as a result, the Vaqueros stand alone in second place in the Northern 3A, as they head for the halfway point of the league season this weekend.
Jaiden Sullivan made two free throws for Fernley, with the clock still reading 10.2, to seal a 43-39 win last Friday that pulled Fernley into a tie with Lowry for second place in the Northern 3A at 4-1.
The, Saturday, the Vaqueros improved to 5-1 with a 58-33 win at South Tahoe.
The Vaqueros will host Dayton Friday and Truckee Saturday to reach the midpoint of the league season.
Last Friday, Fernley led 41-39 when Lowry called timeout after Shelby Garrison missed the first of two free throws with 10.2 seconds left. Following the timeout, Garrison intentionally missed the second free throw to give the Buckaroos a chance at an offensive rebound to score and tie the game. Instead, her shot bounced off the backboard and didn’t hit the rim, giving Fernley the ball inbounds.
Then with hopes of making a steal on the inbounds pass, Lowry was instead called for a foul before the ball was passed in.
Sullivan, one of Fernley’s best free throw shooters, hit both shots to seal the game, the first time Fernley has beaten Lowry under Rogers.
“I was actually pretty happy that she did that, just because she fouled one of our better free throw shooters,” coach John Rogers said. “Flashbacks against Elko when we turned the ball over in that situation.”
Fernley led most of the game, but Lowry went to the fourth quarter with a 31-30 lead after scoring the last seven points of the third. When Sydney Connors hit a 3-pointer with 5:10 left in the game, Lowry led 36-32, but Fernley scored six straight to regain the lead, 38-36.
Kepa Bengochea made a layup after a steal to tie the game at 38 with 2:01 to play, then after Fernley’s Brittney Gaitan was whistled for traveling, Garrison made one of two free throws to put Lowry up 39-38.
Fernley’s Celeste Condie hit a baseline jumper with 58 seconds remaining to put Fernley on top 40-39. After a Lowry miss, Sullivan hit the front end of a one-and-one with 35.3 seconds left, but missed the second, giving Lowry a chance to tie. Garrison was fouled trying to put back an offensive rebound with 10.2 seconds left.
“I just felt like our girls kind of came together at the end where a couple times this year we’ve kind of faltered at the end, and this time it was nice to get the victory at the end instead of watching some other team celebrate,” Rogers said.
Saturday, the Vaqueros had no trouble with South Tahoe.
“We got a lot of steals and layups along with getting the ball inside to our post players for some easy buckets,” Rogers said. “Our ¾-court defense gave them fits the entire first half and we had open shots against their zone and knocked them down. We did a good job of moving the ball on offense but we still made some silly mistakes.”