Truckee girls getting battle ready
North versus South always makes for an interesting match-up, especially when a Nevada state title is on the line. It usually is when the unfamiliar foes meet.
Such is the case Friday, when the second-seeded Truckee High girls basketball team of the Northern 3A squares off against first-seeded Pahrump Valley from the South in the 3A State Basketball Championship semifinal at Lawlor Events Center.
Besides what can be gathered from limited game film and season records ” as well as the understanding that bad teams don’t play that deep into the postseason ” neither squad knows much about the other.
“We don’t know really anything about them (Truckee). We haven’t been up North,” Bob Hopkins, head coach at Pahrump Valley, said minutes before boarding a plane to Reno on Wednesday. “I see they played kind of a 4A schedule early in the year, which is kind of what we do, too.”
Truckee coach Angelo Tenorio, who has led two teams to the state tournament in his seven years at the helm, knows the Trojans are well instructed and traditionally strong.
“They’re a well-coached team,” he said. “We’re going to have to do all the little things well and play one of our best games of the season to advance. We’re focused and looking forward to the challenge, though.”
Pahrump Valley, winners of back-to-back state championships in 2004 and 2005 and last year’s runner-up to Spring Creek, looks to pose quite a challenge.
The Trojans have won their last 10 games to push their record to 9-1 in league and 26-8 overall. After winning its first 11 games of the season, Pahrump Valley lost seven of 12 facing larger opponents in the Centennial Tournament.
“We kind of put it together after that,” Hopkins said, explaining that this team’s only “hiccup” from that point on came in a 42-38 Southern 3A loss at Virgin Valley.
Truckee’s path to the state tournament had more bumps along the way, as the Wolverines posted a 9-6 mark in the Northern 3A and 13-14 overall. Entering the regional tournament as a fifth seed, they defeated fourth-seeded Spring Creek 44-42 before advancing to the final with a 48-27 win over first-seeded Dayton. In the regional championship, Truckee lost 31-26 to third-seeded Lowry.
With a young but talented group of players, Tenorio said the Wolverines are just now hitting their stride as a unit.
“We’re healthy and we’re playing really well,” he said. “The girls are playing together as a team and gelling. So we’re excited about the opportunity to go out and play and have fun.”
The coach is also pleased with his team’s increasingly more well-rounded effort on the offensive end ” with seniors Breanne Busby, Lindsay Holt and Meghan Kotko all contributing, as well as sophomores Katy Stephens and Annie Rodriguez and freshman call-up Megan Shalvis, among others. Truckee’s defense, on the other hand, has been solid since Day 1.
“Pahrump Valley can watch film all they want, but they’ll still have to pick their poison as to who they want to stop,” Tenorio said. “All of our players have stepped up, and everyone can score. There’s not a single player you could try to take away and not get hurt in another way.”
The Trojans also boast weapons on the offensive end, both in the post and from their guard play.
Asked to describe his team, Hopkins said, “We’re big and physical. That’s how I’d describe us. We’ve got four kids in the post who are 5-10 or bigger. So our strength is our depth at the post.”
Pahrump Valley also has two senior guards and freshman guard who can run the floor and score, the coach said, as well as a bench that is deep with talent.
“We play a lot of kids,” said Hopkins, who has been at Pahrump Valley since 1999 and has coached high school basketball for 25 years. “I imagine every game we’ve played this year, if we had 11 kids on the bench, we played all 11 of them. So they all have played in pressure moments. And they’re playing pretty good right now.”
Tenorio thinks his Wolverines, with their scrappy defense on the perimeter and in the post, will match up just fine with the Trojans.
“If we play them tough on the outside, we feel like in the post we can play well enough to prevent their players from going crazy (scoring),” he said.
The key for the Wolverines is playing together as a team, Tenorio added.
“We know we can play with the teams from the South. We’re pretty confident that if we play well as a team we have a good opportunity at state,” he said. “But we have to play as good or better than we have all year long.”
The 3A State Basketball Championship will be held at Lawlor Events Center on the UNR campus on Friday and Saturday. Truckee, the No. 2 seed from the North, plays Pahrump Valley, the South’s No. 1 seed, in a semifinal on Friday at 11 a.m. Whoever wins plays the winner between Lowry, the North’s No. 1 seed, and third-seeded Yerington for the state championship on Saturday at 3:20 p.m. For a tournament bracket, visit http://www.niaa.com.