Robert Perea, The Fernley Reporter
After waiting more than a year to play a game, the Fernley High School girls basketball team had an unexpected two-day delay last week due to controversy over the Lyon County School District’s COVID-19 testing policy.
But allowed back on the court Friday the Vaqueros put up a close fight with a pair of 5A schools before beating a third Saturday afternoon in a tournament in Reno and Spanish Springs.
The Vaqueros lost 60-55 to Reno on Friday night and 40-39 to McQueen on Saturday morning, before putting together their best effort of the weekend in a 56-31 win over Spanish Springs Saturday afternoon.
This, after a scheduled game Wednesday against Hug and their first-round game in the tournament were canceled when Washoe County School District refused to let its schools play Lyon County schools due to the dispute over Lyon County’s COVID-19 testing.
Against Reno, the Vaqueros trailed by as much as 22 before storming back to make the game close at the end. Sophomore Jasmyne Torres scored 25 points to lead the Vaqueros, while freshman Jaelece Wasson added 11 and sophomore Kaiserita Otuafi scored 10.
Against McQueen, Wasson led the way with 22 points, Torres added 8 and senior Lashay Stephens scored six.
“Extremely happy how the girls fought back against Reno Friday night, down 22 at one point, so they showed a lot about their character,” coach Tom Kingston said. “McQueen game we were stagnant on offense and not too aggressive on defense. Just one of those games that it seems that we just are going through the motions.”
Against Spanish Springs, Torres scored 21, Wasson had 17 and Otuafi finished with 7.
“Our game against Spanish Springs it seemed that the girls put a more of a complete game together, they pushed the issue on offense and did a lot better on defense,” Kingston said.
Although they have six seniors on the roster, the Vaqueros have just one player, senior Aly Sullivan, back from the team that won the 2019 regular season and regional championships and lost in the state championship game.
They also have four sophomores who have no high school experience because last season was canceled, and a freshman.
“We’re young and inexperienced, but even though they don’t have high school experience, some of them do have travel ball experience,” Kingston said. “Some of the younger players are more experienced than the seniors.”
At 5-foot-10, Otuafi is the team’s tallest player, but despite a relative lack of height, Kingston said the Vaqueros have several good ballhandlers and players who can run the floor, and he said a couple of the taller players are quick.
Kingston said the Vaqueros will mix up their defenses more than they did in his first season as coach in 2019 in both halfcourt and fullcourt situations, and despite their youth, he expects the Vaqueros to be competitive in the Northern 3A. He expects Spring Creek, Lowry and Elko to be tough in the East Division and he said South Tahoe, Truckee, North Valleys and Wooster should all be good teams in the West. Kingston said he doesn’t know to start the season what the remaining teams in the league will be like.
With three games last week and five scheduled this week, the Vaqueros will get a quick look at what their strengths and weaknesses are and to see what lineup combinations work best together.
The Vaqueros will host Hug at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the reschedule of the game that was canceled last week. Then they head to South Tahoe Wednesday, before playing in the Rumble in the Jungle Tournament in Windsor, Calif. Thursday through Saturday. They are scheduled to play Napa (Calif.) at 6:30 Thursday, with opponents Friday and Saturday to be determined.
“We will continue to work hard at practice and keep improving,” Kingston said. “We are excited to keep playing and getting better.”