‘We wanted to make history:’ Truckee girls win program’s first state championship
RENO — The Truckee girls’ basketball team is the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association state champions for the first time in school history.
After dropping three previous meetings this season to Fernley, the Wolverines took control from the outset in Friday’s state title game at Lawlor Events Center and never let go, outhustling and outshooting the Vaqueros on the way to a 54-42 victory.
“I can’t put it into words. It’s just an amazing feeling,” said junior captain Lauren Tanner, who tied for a team high with 12 points. “The fact that I got to do it with my friends, who are family, is just incredible.”
The bond between teammates is what several of the Lady Wolverines said set this group apart from those that came before.
“We’re just so close and really have become like a family this season,” said Tanner. “I’m sad for it to end but I know that we’re just going to keep growing as the years go on, and hopefully we’ve started a new tradition for Truckee.”
‘DIDN’T HAVE ANYTHING TO LOSE’
The Wolverines came into the game after earning a hard-fought win against Moapa Valley in the semifinals. During that game at Reno High School, the team struggled from the field, but under the bright lights of Lawlor, the Wolverines were poised, hungry, and able to knock down big shot after big shot that, ultimately, left the Vaqueros reeling.
“We were definitely willing to dive to the ground first, jump higher, and put in those little extra details and that’s what it came down to,” said Tanner.
“We were more calm and focused on the shots that we were taking and we worked together to better minimize our turnovers. Overall, our energy going into the game was a lot better. We wanted to make history. We didn’t have anything to lose. They were expected to win, and we just were going out there and having fun.”
After a tight first quarter, in which the Wolverines led 13-11, senior Elena Friedman seemingly eased the tension on the Truckee side by stepping into and burying a pair of 3-pointers to help propel the team to a 30-22 lead going into halftime.
“After that everyone calmed down and we were just prepared to do what we had to do,” said Friedman.
In the third quarter, Fernley cut the lead to four behind a 5-0 run, but junior Emma Cooley answered to keep the game at three possessions as the Wolverines took a 38-31 lead into the fourth quarter. Cooley would finish the afternoon with nine points.
Truckee opened the final period on a 5-0 run behind a bucket from junior Annika Thayer and a 3-pointer by sophomore floor general Ryan Flynn, who has emerged as the calming force for the team during times when defenses are playing full court or trapping. Flynn finished the game tied for the team high in points with 12.
As time ticked away, Fernley began frantically sending double teams, but Truckee remained composed, eating away the clock and finding quality looks to eventually claim the win and the program’s first ever state championship.
“It just feels so amazing because we were so close (as a team) this year,” said Thayer, who finished with 10 points. “From the beginning we knew we were going to go far, just not this far.”
MAKING MOMENTOUS MEMORIES
The win capped off a pair of great defensive performances by the Wolverines. In the semifinal matchup, Truckee held Moapa Valley to 26 points, and in the state championship game, they held a Fernley team that went undefeated this season in league play and averaged 58.5 points to a poor performance from the field and 42 points. The defeat snapped a 16-game winning streak for Fernley.
“We have great defenders on our team and so we’ve been able to thrive and shut down the best players. That’s how we’ve won,” said senior captain Emily Monson.
Truckee allowed Fernley’s leading scorer, sophomore Willow Jacobson, 12 points in the first half, but kept her scoreless in the second half.
“We took all of the pressure in the stadium and we thrived from it,” added Monson. “We love the energy and we played our game.”
Monson, Friedman, and team manager Taylor Betonte represented the only seniors on this year’s Truckee team.
“As a team, we’ve counted on each other and we’ve succeeded, and we truly have gone down in history,” said Monson.
“Playing at Lawlor, I’ll remember for the rest of my life. Playing with this team, I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”
Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at email@example.com or 530-550-2643.
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The next few days will bring strong winds to Truckee, though they’ll be gone by the weekend, the National Weather Service said.