Lady Wolverines advance to next round of playoffs
At times in the Truckee High gym Tuesday night it seemed the Wolverines were facing their mirror image, only with purple jerseys reading “Lions” across the front.
And while the scoreboard settled on 50-37 after four quarters, Truckee’s first win in the Northern 3A playoffs was harder to come by than the score suggests.
“They’re one of our toughest match-ups,” Truckee assistant coach Geoff Stephens said of the Yerington Lions. “They’re one of the best teams in the league, and we have a tough time matching up with them.”
That’s because the Lions are quick running the floor, create turnovers with an effective full-court press and make good cuts to the basket. Add Yerington’s good passing and physical play, and that pretty well describes Truckee’s brand of basketball.
Regarding the inevitable bumps, slaps and hacks, the referees were quick on their whistles. That prevented the game from getting ugly ” like what happened in the last meeting between the two teams on Jan. 27, when the girls could have used helmets and shoulder pads in Truckee’s 54-48 win.
Junior point guard Kelly Stephens put Truckee on the board with a three-pointer from the top of the key for the game’s initial score. With Yerington trying to impose its aggressive style of defense early, the Wolverines often found themselves at the free-throw line.
By the end of the first quarter Truckee had jumped out in front 13-4 while Yerington struggled to knock down open shots. Both teams played solid defense.
Yerington ” which brought up a lion mascot and four cheerleaders to make noise when Wolverines shot free throws ” opened the second quarter with a steal for a layup, a banked three-pointer and an easy bucket in the paint. The 7-0 run brought the score to 13-11, Truckee.
Erica Rice answered with an offensive rebound and put-back and Felicia Tenorio, who along with Rice and others made life miserable for Yerington ball handlers, scored on a rare fast-break layup.
Because of the Lions’ ability to get back quickly on defense, the Wolverines had to rely heavily on their half-court offense to generate points ” as opposed to scoring a high percentage of their points on fast breaks.
Playing out of their set offense, the Wolverines went cold halfway through the second quarter. About that time Yerington began heating up. Two buckets under the hoop, a pair of free throws and a three-point field goal later, the Lions took a 20-17 lead.
Truckee head coach Angelo Tenorio, looking dapper on his Valentines birthday, could be seen, or at least imagined, with steam leaking from his ears as he offered words to the refs and shouted instruction to his team.
Kelly Stephens then stopped the bleeding with another three-pointer before the half came to a close, tying the score at 20. The game had shaped into a good one.
“I think we both wanted it,” Kelly Stephens said. “(Yerington) came out here with intensity in the first half. Then at halftime we got our butts chewed.”
After Yerington scored on consecutive possessions to start the second half, Nicole Panziera drained a mid-range shot. The Lions answered right back, bringing the score to 26-22. And that’s where they stayed for the rest of the third quarter.
Meanwhile, Truckee picked up its pace both offensively and defensively, in part because of feisty efforts from Panziera and sophomore Breanne Busby.
“We hustled and we were intense in the second half. And we wanted it bad,” Panziera said.
Yerington finally got back on the scoring track with a free throw with 6:44 remaining in the fourth quarter. But that came after a 15-0 run by the Wolverines that adjusted the score to 37-26.
Truckee played intelligently down the final stretch, dribbling and passing the ball around to burn time and taking advantage of the fact that there is no shot clock at the high school level.
With a chance to add points as the final 30 seconds ticked away, Kelly Stephens did the classy thing by dribbling out the time, ending the game with the score 50-37.
The Wolverines, a No. 3 seed in the Northern 3A tournament, take on Lowry, the No. 2 seed, Friday at 12:20 p.m. in Winnemucca.
“It will be a good game,” Kelly Stephens said.
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Students frustrated at the cancellation of sports waved signs and delivered speeches at a Truckee High School protest in an attempt to return to the field this year.