Lady Wolverines lose to Faith Lutheran in state semifinal
Truckee High senior Amanda Thorsby vowed that her Wolverines basketball team would not be eliminated from the NIAA State Championship Tournament without a fight. She was right.
In front of a sea of red-clad supporters Friday at Spanish Springs High School, the Wolverines lost 54-48 in a hard-fought and well-played state semifinal game against the Faith Lutheran Crusaders ” and it wasn’t because of lack of effort.
“They played a great game,” Truckee head coach Angelo Tenorio said of his team. “They left it all out on the court. I’m so proud of each and every one of them.
“They proved that we are one of the top teams in the state.”
Had it not been for Wolverine injuries and fouls, the score could very well have been reversed, sending Truckee into the state championship game to face Spring Creek.
But fate wouldn’t have it.
With a 48-46 lead and 1:36 remaining in the fourth quarter, Truckee point guard Kelly Stephens picked up her fifth foul when she collided into a Faith Lutheran defender on a drive in the lane. Stephens ” whose clutch play helped the Wolverines gain the lead in the fourth quarter ” gave the court a two-handed smack in frustration, then left the game with her limit of fouls.
She was the third member of the starting squad to exit early.
Senior co-team captain Felicia Tenorio crumpled to the floor as the third quarter buzzer sounded after rolling an already sore ankle on a Crusader’s foot.
“That was huge,” Angelo Tenorio said. “That one hurt.”
The other crucial loss came with about three and a half minutes to go in the game, when senior co-captain Erica Rice fouled out on an over-the-back call.
“When we lost those players it was huge. The girls off the bench did the best they could, but when you lose your starters it really makes a difference,” Angelo Tenorio said.
Scoring started out slowly, with both teams feeling each other out while trading leads. By the end of the first quarter, Faith Lutheran had an 11-9 advantage.
With both teams pressing full court and playing tight defense, turnovers were common. Often, a stolen ball was stolen right back.
The Crusaders established early that Truckee was going to have to stop Genesis Lightbourne, their 5-foot-11 post player who averaged 21.3 points per game during the season and is set to play at Iowa State University next year on a scholarship.
But Truckee’s post players did not allow Lightbourne many easy buckets. The tall and athletic Lightbourne, however, did score many of her points at the free throw line while Wolverines’ foul totals accumulated.
“Our post players did an incredible job on her,” Angelo Tenorio said, adding that Thorsby played particularly well.
After Truckee sophomore Lindsey Holt tied the game at 11 early in the second quarter with a nice move and basket in the paint, the Crusaders regained the lead, then began slowly pulling away.
Faith Lutheran ” a very athletic team that was larger than Truckee as a whole ” gave Wolverine ball handlers trouble at both ends of the court, jumping out to a 23-15 lead near the end of the second quarter.
Truckee sophomore Breanne Busby then converted a three-point play with an aggressive move and bucket in traffic, and scored shortly thereafter on a layup off a nice feed from Stephens.
The first half came to a close with Truckee down 27-22.
Faith Lutheran opened the second half with a 7-0 run to extend its lead to 34-22, the largest of the game.
Thorsby put a stop to Faith Lutheran’s scoring streak on a layup via another assist from Stephens.
Refusing to go away, the Wolverines mounted their own run, outscoring the Crusaders 10-0 over the next couple minutes to pull within two points, at 34-32.
Truckee’s offense had heated up.
Felicia Tenorio popped a three-pointer on the run. Stephens stole the ball and made a layup, then stole the ball again, was fouled, and sunk her own three-pointer off the inbound pass.
Faith Lutheran fans didn’t like what they were seeing, and in proving that there is whine country in Las Vegas, they let the referees hear about every non-call they thought should have been made.
Meanwhile, the Crusaders finished the quarter with six unanswered points.
Trailing 40-34 entering the final quarter, with one of their top players in Felicia Tenorio sidelined with a tweaked ankle, the Wolverines again put on a display of the spunk that got them to the state semifinal game. Stephens and Rice stepped up their full-court press defense, forcing the Crusaders into repeated turnovers.
About that time Stephens caught fire. She made a layup, then banked in a three-pointer to bring the score to 42-39. Stephens drained another outside shot the next time down the floor, then stole the ball, stopped at the three-point line and buried another three-pointer to give her team a 47-44 lead.
Truckee fans went wild as their point guard shot the Wolverines back in the game.
But then Rice fouled out. And Stephens ” after scoring her final point on a free throw when she was intentionally shoved to the floor following a steal ” picked up her final foul.
The Wolverines were in trouble.
Without Rice, Stephens and Felicia Tenorio, Truckee could not break Faith Lutheran’s press and did not score another point the remaining minute and a half of the game.
Faith Lutheran took advantage, scoring the final seven points off Truckee turnovers to pull ahead and win 54-48.
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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.