Wolverines, Lakers tussle for postseason play
The play of two of the NIAA 3A’s premier big men has left the Truckee Wolverines basketball team’s postseason hopes hanging by a thread.
Still, a little help from the Rite of Passage Rams on Wednesday and the Fernley Vaqueros on Friday night will give the Wolverines a shot at the North Tahoe Lakers on Saturday for the final playoff spot.
Losses over the last week to ROP, Spring Creek and Lowry have left the Wolverines in seventh place with a 4-10 record in league, a game and a half behind North Tahoe, 5-8, for the final playoff spot.
Last weekend, the Wolverines made the long trip across the basin and range to play Lowry and Spring Creek.
Before their trip, Head Coach Mike Gray said he was hoping for a split, but instead came away with back-to-back losses.
“Anytime you go out there, it’s a tough couple of games,” Gray said afterward.
On Friday, the Wolverines had their best chance for a win, but fell to Spring Creek, 75-57.
The Wolverines led 14-7 after the first quarter, but trailed at halftime after the Spartans outscored them 23-10 in the second quarter.
Plagued by foul trouble, the Wolverines trailed by double digits for most of the second half. The Spartans improved their record to 3-11 in league.
“We had five guys foul out, and it’s hard to play with your starters on the bench,” Gray said. “And even some of our reserves had four fouls.”
Jamie Maehler led the Wolverines in scoring with 18 points.
Against second-place Lowry the following day, the Wolverines couldn’t contain the Buckaroos’ talented big man, Teo Maestrejuan, who finished with a game-high 21 points in a 63-44 Lowry win.
The Wolverines did manage to stay with the Buckaroos in the second half, but a 29-15 halftime deficit against an experienced team in a gym that many feel provides the greatest home-court advantage in the state was a big hole to dig out of.
“They have nine seniors and a lot of experience and they know how to play the game,” Gray said.
In hopes of containing Maestrejuan, Gray employed a box-and-one, with four Wolverines in a zone while one player shadowed the largest Buckaroo.
“But they got the lead, and we had to come out and guard them man-to-man, or they would just sit out there and run time off the clock,” Gray said.
Last Wednesday, the Wolverines hosted the ROP Rams, who rode the back of freshman Jamie Singleton. Singleton not only led all scorers with 25 points, two of which came on a Jordonsque dunk midway through the third quarter, he also made himself a defensive menace by altering any shot the Wolverines attempted from within the key.
Dave Larson had 20 points to lead the Wolverines.
Still, with some help from the rest of the league, the Wolverines will play the rival Lakers for the final spot in the Northern Zone playoffs.
North Tahoe has to lose one of its games this week, against ROP last night or Fernley on Friday.
A Lakers loss in either of those games and a Wolverine win on the road at Fernley would force a Saturday showdown for the final playoff spot.
If Truckee was to win Saturday’s game, the two teams would finish with identical 6-10 records, but the Wolverines would likely own the tie breaker thanks to an earlier season win against third-place Dayton. North Tahoe lost both of their games against Dayton this season.