Robert Perea, The Fernley Reporter
In the first of two first place showdowns this week, it was Fallon that advances to the weekend undefeated with the chance to take the pole position for the rest of the Northern 3A race.
Fallon held Fernley scoreless for 11 minutes in the second half Tuesday night to claim a 59-27 win.
Fallon will face Lowry Saturday with a chance to come out of the week in first place, depending on what happens Friday, when Fernley hosts Lowry and Fallon faces Dayton.
Fernley, meanwhile, now hopes to hold onto second place by beating Lowry.
With Tuesday’s win, Fallon joined Lowry atop the league standings at 4-0, while Fernley fell to 3-1.
The Greenwave did it with defense. Fernley went the last 5:29 of the third quarter and first 5:32 of the fourth without scoring, allowing Fallon to turn a 33-20 lead to 57-20, before Jaiden Sullivan finally ended the drought with a 3-pointer.
Both coaches said that stretch in the third quarter was the difference in the game.
Fallon led 27-16 at the half, and to that point, Fernley coach John Rogers believed the Vaqueros had competed on even terms with the Greenwave.
“I thought we handled their pressure and did a decent job of containing them, but they just made more shots in the first half,” Rogers said. “I thought it was an evenly matched game up to that point, they just made shots we didn’t and in the second half their athleticism took over and we struggled.”
Fallon coach Anne Smith said the Greenwave identified a couple of defense errors in the first half and eliminated them in the second.
“There was a few times in the first half that I felt they scored because we weren’t switching, or we were switching guard to post, that I wasn’t very happy with, so we kind of cleaned that up,” Smith said. “A couple times in transition we would mix things up and there would be an open person that didn’t have anybody even on them, so we did have to clean that up.”
Fallon ended the first quarter with a 9-2 run punctuated by a 3-pointer by Caitlyn Welch to take an 18-7 lead.
Fernley stayed within hailing distance throughout the second quarter, but the Greenwave moved the lead to double digits with a basket by Leilani Otuafi with 5:29 left in the half.
A 3-pointer by Welch with 6:27 left in the third made it 33-18. Fernley answered with a basket by Celeste Condie, but then didn’t score for the next 11 minutes.
The Vaqueros made just 1-of-10 attempts from the free throw line and 2-of-14 from the 3-point line. Meanwhile, Fallon scored on the break, in the post, from the perimeter and from the foul line to blow the game open.
“Again, we’ve got to get more consistent, we’ve got to be more stable and we need to be able to hit more shots,” Rogers said. “If we can’t make shots, then we can’t beat good teams like that.”
Both teams were coming off holiday tournament. The Vaqueros played in the Green Valley Gator Winter Classic, winning their bracket after going 0-3 in pool play. Fallon played in the West Coast Jamboree in Castro Valley, Calif. Smith said playing five games with a shot clock might have caused her team to rush offensively, especially early in Tuesday’s game.
“Maybe we should have passed the ball a little more,” she said. “We took a shot instead of the best shot.”
Fallon spread its scoring among 10 players, led by Welch, who finished with 12 points. Leilani Otuafi added 11, Leta Otuafi had nine and Faith Cornmesser pitched in with seven.
Hailee Edgar led Fernley with seven points and Brittney Gaitan scored six.
Fallon plays at Dayton at 6 p.m. Friday, then hosts Lowry at 1 p.m. Saturday.
Fernley hosts Lowry Friday at 6 p.m., then plays at South Tahoe Saturday at 1 p.m.
Fallon scoring: Kaitlyn Hunter 2. Alexis Jarrett 6, Chandler McAlexander 2, Lani Otuafi 11, Shelbi Schultz 2, Caitlyn Welch 12, Madison Whitaker 6, Leta Otuafi 9, Faith Cornmesser 7, Hannah Evans 2
Fernley scoring: Hailee Edgar 7, Jaiden Sullivan 3, Reese Jones 2, McKenna Montgormery 2, Celeste Condie 5, Brittney Gaitan 6.
Photos by Thomas Ranson, Lahontan Valley News