Truckee set for Northern 3A battle | SierraSun.com

Truckee set for Northern 3A battle

Sylas Wright
Sierra Sun
Ryan Salm/Sierra SunTruckee High point guard Kelly Stephens scans the court for an open teammate against Fernley on Jan. 13. The Wolverines won 51-47.
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The Truckee High girls basketball team primed all season for this.

And having been aced out of the third playoff seed by Yerington this past Friday ” setting up Truckee as a No. 4 seed on the undefeated Spring Creek Spartans’ side of the bracket ” the Wolverines know their route to a state title is far from paved.

To reach the 16-0 Spartans in the Northern 3A tournament this weekend, Truckee (11-5) must go through No. 5-seeded Fernley (8-8) today ” a team the Wolverines know is not to be taken lightly.

“We’re not overlooking these girls,” Truckee coach Angelo Tenorio said of the Vaqueros. “We’ve gotta go in there and take care of business. We need to focus like there’s no tomorrow.”

Because in the single-elimination postseason tournament, there are no second chances. And everyone begins with a clean slate.

“When you get to playoffs it’s a whole new start, and teams pick up their intensity,” Tenorio said, adding that the Vaqueros “have a lot of confidence entering the playoffs.”

This after a hard-fought, 59-56 overtime loss to visiting Truckee on Feb. 3 during which the two teams shot a total of 80 free throws.

“Fernley is an aggressive, man-to-man playing team,” said Tenorio, whose squad is not shy about engaging in physical contests. “They’ve improved tremendously in the last six or seven games. They work hard, they’re real scrappy and they never quit, no matter what the score is.”

The Vaqueros proved just that in Truckee on Jan. 13 when they went on a 27-11 run in the fourth quarter ” after trailing 27-13 at the half and 40-20 at the end of the third quarter ” only to come up four points short, 51-47. Fernley’s comeback run was led by senior point guard April Shaw, who lit up the Wolverines for 21 points on four 3-pointers.

Truckee has an equally competent point guard itself in senior Kelly Stephens, who posted a game-high 23 points in the teams’ last meeting in Fernley.

Tenorio predicts that the Vaqueros will focus on shutting down Stephens, denying her the ball by way of constant pressure from Shaw and others. Stephens, a third-year varsity starter and a quick and scrappy defender, will likely be glued to Shaw as well. Remove the two point guards from the picture, and Tenorio likes his team’s chances.

“If Shaw and Kelly basically X each other out, I think we have the better team,” Tenorio said. “If we play to our potential and work well together as a team, I think we’ll get past Fernley.”

To do so, Tenorio said the Wolverines must cut down on the turnovers that plagued them back on Feb. 3 while stepping up their defensive pressure, which has created much of Truckee’s offense throughout the season.

“If we can do that we’ll come out on top,” the coach said.