With the first month of the high school basketball season officially in the books, clear frontrunners have emerged, on the girls side while the boys side remains effectively wide open.
The top two squads through the first month on the boys side have been Galena (12-3) and Hug (9-2), who have already faced off three times. Hug emerged vicotorious twice, by a combined total of three points, but Galena won the first matchup with a convincing 69-57 score.
Douglas arguably has the most talented roster in Northern Nevada, but its overall inexperience has led the Tigers to lapses in consisency. The Tigers have been competitive in every game, but have had a number of head-scratching losses during which they'd led for the majority of the game. Galena escaped with a victory in one such game after the Tigers had been in control for nearly three quarters.
Still, when the Tigers are clicking on all cylinders, they've shown they can play with anyone - as shown by a game against defending state champion Bishop Gorman two weeks ago when Douglas led for several portions of the game before eventually losing.
Last week, at the Under Armour Holiday Classic, Douglas went 2-2 against some strong opponents, although the Tigers did fall victim to another late collapse in a 58-49 loss to Bakersfield. The Tigers had led throughout, but were outscored 24-5 in the final quarter.
"We just stopped moving on offense," Douglas coach Corey Thacker said. "We stopped doing what got us out in front. Defensively we were OK, but they got some takeaways on us and turned them into fast break points."
Still, Thacker saw marked improvement both last week and overall through his team's first 13 games.
"We were pretty excited with what we were able to do last week," he said. "We came in with the goal of getting better and playing some good games against good competition and we got all that. We saw some really good teams.
"I was very pleased with the way our team defense came along last week. We've had good individual defense this year, but we saw the whole team take a step forward, especially with our help defense. We still have a long way to go with it, but we're starting to come together there.
"We're still high on turnovers, we have to take better care of the ball. If we can take care of that and move the ball around, we're going to be OK."
Reed and McQueen are both in the mix for the High Desert League title while Damonte and Carson have shown a lot of improvement in the Sierra League.
On the girls' side, Reed and Reno wasted little time re-establishing themselves as the top programs in Northern Nevada. Reed blistered through its preseason schedule with an immaculate 7-0 slate.
Reno's one Northern Nevada loss came in a narrow defeat against Reed. The Huskies' only other blemish came over the weekend at perennial power Centennial in Las Vegas.
Sierra League frontrunner Manogue quietly inserted itself into the pool of regional favorites by compiling a 9-0 overall record, though the Miners have seen neither Reno or Reed thus far.
Spanish Springs rounds out a solid top four after piling up a 9-3 record.
After that, the parity in girls basketball steps up considerably.
In the High Desert League, North Valleys, Hug and McQueen will battle it out for what will likely be the lone remaining playoff spot. All three have two wins apiece in league play.
In the Sierra League, Carson, Damonte Ranch and Douglas are virtual locks for the playoffs despite the fact that 75 percent of the league schedule remains.
Neither Galena or Wooster have picked up a league win, and neither come close to doing so.
Douglas has been particularly impressive at times, showing an improved offense that has topped the 50-point mark three times already and is averaging three points more a game than last season despite having already faced Reno, Reed and Spanish Springs.
The team is athletic and quickly overcoming its inexperience. The final league push will determine a large portion of what happens in terms of playoff seeding, but with a couple breaks, the Lady Tigers could be looking at hosting a playoff game for the first time since 2008.
Joey Crandall can be reached at (775) 782-5121, ext. 212.