Prepping for playoffs
For both Truckee High basketball teams and the Laker girls, it’s time for each to prove its regular-season success was no fluke.
Truckee’s boys and girls enter the Northern 3A regional tournament at Elko today, while the late-surging North Tahoe girls are preparing for the Northern 2A tournament at Winnemucca on Friday.
A loss on Day 1 will erase a season’s worth of hard work and dedication. A first-round win will send the victor one step closer to a state title. There is no middle ground.
Entering as a third seed, the Laker girls (6-4) play second-seeded Pershing County (8-2) ” aka Lovelock ” at 3 p.m. The winner advances to the regional championship to face either Battle Mountain (9-1) or Mineral Country (3-7) ” Hawthorne ” on Saturday at 3:20 p.m.
After a rocky start, North Tahoe has been on a tear of late, going 9-3 the second half of the season and winning six of its last eight league games. In the opening round of the postseason, the Lakers, who split their two regular-season contests against Lovelock, are most concerned about containing the Northern 2A’s co-MVP, MacKenzie Hodges.
“She will continue to represent a difficult task for us,” Laker coach Scott Conn said of Hodges, a 6-foot-3 post player who dropped 34 points against North Tahoe on Jan. 31. “We fully expect her to be very difficult to handle. But we can’t focus solely on her because Lovelock has plenty of other weapons.”
If the Lakers get past Hodges and company, they advance straight to the regional final while also earning a berth to compete in the state championship, which will be held at North Valleys High School in Reno on Feb. 22-23.
Before thinking that far ahead, however, Conn knows his team faces a tall task to open the tournament.
“Our recent success is no reason to celebrate,” Conn said. “The girls are really bearing down to focus and do whatever they can to be in a good position to compete with Lovelock.”
Truckee’s girls (8-6), entering the regional tournament as a fifth seed, will play fourth-seeded Spring Creek (9-5) on Thursday at 6 p.m. The winner goes on to the semifinal to play first-seeded Dayton (11-3), which has a first-round bye, on Friday at 6 p.m. The top three finishers in the regional tournament advance to state.
Recent history is on the Wolverines’ side, as they defeated Spring Creek twice during the regular season.
“It should be a very good game,” said Truckee coach Angelo Tenorio. “We’re really looking forward to it. I think it’s a game that could go either way.”
Despite the head-to-head results between the two teams, Tenorio said that many people are considering the Spartans the favorite to win. He’s not one of them.
“I like our chances. We’re looking forward to being the underdog,” Tenorio said. “We don’t mind that role at all. We’re looking forward to the challenge of playoffs, and we’re ready to be the Cinderella team.”
On the boys’ side, the fifth-seeded Wolverines (7-7) will play Yerington, seeded fourth with a 9-5 record, on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. The winner goes on to face Incline (10-4), which received a first-round bye, the following day at 7:30 p.m.
Although the Wolverines lost both regular-season games against Yerington ” one in overtime on their home court ” Truckee coach Steve Ames thinks his players are more than capable of stepping up and eliminating the Lions from the tournament.
“I think we match up pretty well with Yerington,” Ames said. “We went to overtime with them, and should have won that game, and the other game we were missing two of our starters.”
The Wolverines also have defeated the top two seeds three of four games during the regular season ” beating Incline twice and Dayton once.
“I don’t think anybody wants to play Truckee, because we’ve shown we can beat anybody,” Ames said.
The 3A state championship tournaments, both boys and girls, will be played at the Lawlor Events Center on the UNR campus Feb. 22-23.
Auburn Ski Club will host the CNISSF Nordic State Championships on Friday and Saturday.
Friday’s race features a 5-kilometer Classic event for the high school athletes ” middle school gets the day off ” with the final Freestyle/Skate race on Saturday concluding the championships.
Saturday’s race will be started in Pursuit format, so the fastest combination of times from Friday combined with Saturday will be the State Nordic High School Champion.
The middle school racers will compete Saturday for their championship in a 4-kilometer Freestyle event.