Girls basketball team preparing for battle |

Girls basketball team preparing for battle

Photo by Ryan Salm/Sierra SunTruckee senior team captains Erica Rice, on left, and Felicia Tenorio take time out from practice Wednesday for a photo.

The Lady Wolverines have played their way into uncharted territory, a fact they’re well aware of heading into the NIAA 3A State semifinal game Friday.

“This is huge. This is history for Truckee,” Erica Rice, a senior forward and co-team captain, said about Friday’s game against the Faith Lutheran Crusaders, the No. 1-seeded team from southern Nevada.

Never before has a girls basketball team from Truckee played this deep into the state tournament, where two wins is all that stands in the way of bringing home a title.

“It’s incredible,” Truckee head coach Angelo Tenorio said of his team’s run. “It says a lot about how hard the girls have worked, and it shows where the program is going.”

The program is rolling in the right direction thanks in part to Tenorio, who in his third season as head coach began working with this year’s senior class when they were in seventh grade, in the Amateur Athletic Union’s youth basketball league.

The Wolverines’ two senior captains, Rice and Felicia Tenorio, were parts of that original core. And the pair has been scheming about this moment ever since.

“We planned on being the team that no one expected to be that good,” Felicia Tenorio said. “We wanted to show everybody what we were made of.”

About the two seniors’ leadership roles: “Erica and I try to get everybody pumped up and not get down on each other, and work as a team,” the coach’s daughter said.

It seems to have worked, as Truckee finished the regular season with an 18-7 record overall and 12-4 in league. The Wolverines are 2-1 in postseason play as the No. 3 seed from the North, losing only to No. 2-seeded Lowry.

If the Wolverines beat Faith Lutheran, they will face the winner between Spring Creek, the No. 1-seeded powerhouse from the North, and Lowry in the state final.

And while they know first-hand about Lowry’s and Spring Creek’s prowess ” Truckee is 0-5 against the two top teams this season ” the Wolverines are not taking Faith Lutheran lightly, either.

“They’re a very balanced team,” Angelo Tenorio said Wednesday, after sitting down with his players to study game film of the Crusaders. “We’re just watching their tendencies, what type of defense they play … just getting an idea of what to expect.

“We just want to give ourselves the best opportunity to win the ball game.”

The coach and his team learned from the film that Faith Lutheran is similar to Truckee, with quick players who like to create turnovers with defensive traps.

Faith Lutheran’s main strength, however, is Genesis Lightbourne, a 5-foot-11 post player who averaged 21.3 points per game this season and recently received a scholarship to Iowa State University.

“She’s definitely the one people key on,” said Jason Boyd, Faith Lutheran’s head coach of seven years. “She’s good. And we have a couple of good guards, too.”

Boyd, who said he and his team left Las Vegas for Reno Thursday morning in attempt to acclimate to the higher elevation, knows a little about Truckee, too, but not from watching game film.

“I haven’t ever seen them play, I’ve just gotten stuff online from you guys (the Sierra Sun) ” but no tape,” Boyd said. “I know the key players and what they do defensively. They play full-court man most of the time and pressure defense.”

Asked about his team, Boyd said, “We’re a pretty good defensive team. We press when we need to, but some games we just play in the half court.”

Faith Lutheran beat Virgin Valley and Boulder City in the Southern 3A tournament to get this far. Knowing the Crusaders likely would make a run at state, Boyd brought his team to the Pyramid Lake Tournament in December to scout out the stronger Northern 3A. The Crusaders beat Lowry by 12 points before losing to Spring Creek by only four. That alone proves a lot.

But no matter what happens Friday and Saturday, the Wolverines are glad to be where they are. That’s glad, not content.

“I’m really stoked,” senior forward Amanda Thorsby said of playing in the state tournament. “We accomplished our goal for the season. Now we just need to carry it on further and win our next game.”

And if the Wolverines win Friday, the next test is sure to be a challenge.

“We’re just going to have to go out there and give it our all and play with heart,” Thorsby said. “And for the seniors, we’ve made it this far, so we’re not going to go out without a fight.”

Truckee plays the Faith Lutheran Crusaders at Spanish Springs High School Friday at 3 p.m.

If the Wolverines win that game, they will face the winner between Lowry and Spring Creek at Lawlor Events Center in Reno Saturday at 12 p.m. for the state title.

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