After clinching the first playoff berth in school history and surpassing a number of other big milestones along the way, the Sierra Lutheran High School boys basketball team was bound to reap some postseason recognition.
The Falcons got plenty of it as the all-league awards were announced recently.
Senior center Alex Borgman became the school’s first-ever first-team all-league honoree, Carson Iverson earned a second-team nod, Nick Walker and Michael Patrick were honorable mentions and Alan Reed was named the league’s Coach of the Year.
“It was a special year,” Reed said. “The kids figured things out. They learned to compete and things went well for them. They just kept getting better and accomplished some very special things. You have to be happy with that.”
Aside from the playoff berth, Sierra Lutheran picked up wins against Virginia City, Coleville and Smith Valley — all schools the Falcons had not previously defeated. They swept the season series from both Coleville and Smith Valley.
“When it comes down to defining this season, it’s tough to look past the Virginia City win,” Reed said.
Sierra Lutheran was on the road and trailed 48-40 with 2:15 remaining in the game.
“You won’t get much argument in saying that Virginia City is one of the toughest places to play,” Reed said.
The Falcons staged a comeback in the waning minutes and walked away with a 53-51 win. Nick Walker hit three 3-pointers in the final two minutes, nailed a pair of key free throws and accounted for 11 of his team’s final 13 points. He finished with 23 points, five steals and three assists.
“I don’t know what happened with him, but he went into outer space or something,” Reed said. “He was just unbelievable those last couple minutes. The whole team just rose to the occasion.
“All the kids believed they could do it. It was a huge night for this high school. The place went crazy, the fans went nuts after the game. To beat a program with such a storied history, something that hasn’t been done in the nine years of this school, and to come back and do it in that fashion, I think everyone was just stunned. It was beyond a special night. The thrill was just incredible.”
The following night, Sierra Lutheran slugged through a tough 66-52 win at Coleville, this time getting 20 points and nine rebounds from Michael Patrick.
“We were dog tired from the night before,” Reed said. “The kids put it all out there and didn’t really have much left. They found a way though. Michael Patrick carried us.”
The Falcons opened the year against a tough non-conference slate, playing a number of games against California schools.
“We went away from taking on some of the smaller schools from around here that maybe we could pick up some easier wins against,” Reed said. “We wanted real tests with the idea of getting better against tougher competition.
“We struggled at the start. We racked up some losses, but the important thing was the kids were learning and improving.”
The Falcons followed that with a 3-1 performance at the State Farm JV Tournament in Reno, going up against junior varsity programs from larger schools like Reno and Spanish Springs. Sierra Lutheran defeated Spanish Springs on a buzzer-beater from Walker, completing a 15-point comeback over the final three minutes.
“That was a very pivotal point of our season,” Reed said. “You could see things starting to come together for the kids.”
Sierra Lutheran then opened league play with a 53-46 win over Smith Valley, another first.
The Falcons went on to tie a school record in wins at 12.
Borgman, who was the team’s MVP, averaged 13.3 points per game and 7.5 rebounds during the season and wrapped up his career with 553 rebounds and 814 points, which was good enough for No. 2 on the school’s all-time list.
The top spot was claimed by Carson Iverson, who wrapped up his career with 883 points and set new school marks in 3-pointers (160) and assists (85).
“Alex and Carson were my two seniors,” Reed said. “We have eight guys coming back next year, but those are two tough pairs of shoes to fill.”
Patrick set a school mark for blocked shots in a season at 42.
Part of the breakout was in large part credited to Sierra Lutheran completing an entire offseason schedule at the AAU level.
“This was our first full-time offseason shot,” Reed said. “We merged our program with the Carson Valley Basketball Association and were able to do a lot of tournaments. Corey Thacker and Brian Mello were so good to us and helping us out and getting us a couple guys when we were short. The overall experience was very beneficial to what we saw during the regular season.
“We ended up playing 25 games during the summer and 20 of them were against California teams. We ramped things up with them and we started to see results. With such a big returning group for next year, I’m very excited to see what they accomplish with the extra work.”