Vaqueros hit the road for second half of league play

Robert Perea, The Fernley Reporter

After steamrolling through the first half of league play undefeated, all at home, both the Fernley High School boys and girls basketball teams will hit the road for the rest of league play.

Both teams begin the second half Friday night in Dayton, with the girls starting at 6 p.m., followed by the boys at 7:30 p.m.

Both teams have encountered minimal resistance in the first five league games. The closest game for the boys has been a 43-23 win over Elko on Jan. 12 and their other four league wins have all come by 30 points or more.


The girls are coming off a 66-52 win over Lowry last Friday in which they trailed 9-0 and 19-7 before storming back.

Girls cap first half with rousing win in state title game rematch

Fernley and Lowry treated a standing room-only crowd and a Nevada Sports Net television audience to one of the best games and atmospheres played in Northern Nevada this season.

With Lowry adeptly handling the press and not allowing Fernley the steals and fast breaks they’ve used to bury opponents all season, the Buckaroos jumped out to a 9-0 lead less than two minutes into the game. When Britain Backus hit a 3-pointer with 47 seconds left in the first quarter, Lowry still led 19-7.

But that’s when Fernley exhibited for the first time the explosiveness that has left so many other opponents gasping for air.

Jaelece Wasson capitalized on a turnover with a 3-pointer, then after another turnover, Nadia Velazquez hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to end the quarter and cut the deficit to 19-13.

After a three by Lowry’s Autum Sanchez put Lowry up 31-23 with 2:45 left in the second quarter, the Vaqueros scored the next nine points to go to the half with their first lead of the game at 32-31. Fernley then had an 8-0 run early in the third quarter and a 14-0 run split between the end of the third and start of the fourth to break the game open with a 58-40 lead.

“What an atmosphere for the girls to play in,” coach Ralph Dunn said. “Can’t thank the fans enough for all the energy they provided for the girls. So much support.”

Taylor Tollestrup led the Vaqueros with 18 points, while Jasmyne Torres added 15 and both Wasson and Tia Otuafi scored 11.

The two teams will meet again to end the regular season Feb. 19 in Winnemucca, but it would be no surprise if they meet twice more after that, in the region tournament and again in the state tournament, as they did last season.

Two nights earlier, the Vaqueros fully flexed their muscles with a 77-23 win over Fallon, the third-place team in the Northern 3A.

The Vaqueros opened the game with a 16-3 run, followed that up with a 15-3 run and an 8-2 run to lead 41-13 at the half. Then they had a 15-0 in the third quarter and outscored Fallon 15-2 inn the fourth quarter even with the running clock.

“The girls played excellent both ends of the court,” Dunn said. “Our defense was outstanding and we ran the court well.”

Boys use big run to turn back Lowry upset bid

Lowry came into Fernley off five consecutive losses, but didn’t look like a team that was winless in league play when they roared out to an 11-4 lead to start the game and still held a 16-11 lead at the end of the first quarter.

But starting with a 3-pointer by Bryce Dunagan-Stephens just before the buzzer to end the first quarter, the Vaqueros outscored Lowry 28-3 in a 10-minute stretch to turn a 16-8 deficit to a 36-19 lead and they continued pulling away to the final buzzer.

“Credit Lowry,” Fernley coach Cade Knutson said. “I thought they were extremely physical with us. I thought they beat us to virtually every loose ball in the first half and they outrebounded us in the first half. I just thought they flat out played really well in the first quarter, but I’m proud of the way we responded.”

Johnnie Williams led the Vaqueros with 21 points, Dunagan-Stephens had 16 points and Sheldon Jacobson scored 11.

Other than the early deficit, that was much the way league play has gone for the Vaqueros.

Against Fallon two nights earlier, the Vaqueros bombarded the Greenwave 25-3 in the first quarter and it was 50-15 at the half on the way to a 68-38 win.

Anthony Winters matched his season high with 21 points and Jacobson pitched in with 11, while six other players got into the scoring column.

“We got off to an incredibly hot start and our guys really bought into the scouting report,” Knutson said. “We knew what we were trying to do with each individual player from Fallon and out guys executed that, putting some of the Fallon players into uncomfortable positions.”

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