The road is uphill and runs straight through Lowry.
The challenge for the Fallon boys basketball team is a tall order, but not impossible. With a win, the Greenwave would clinch a berth in the Division I-A state tournament.
But first, the Wave must focus on the Buckaroos in today’s semifinal of the Northern DI-A regional tournament in Elko. Tip-off is at 8 p.m. In the other matchup, No. 2 Elko faces third-seeded Spring Creek.
The winners advance to Saturday’s Northern Division I-A regional title game and qualify for next week’s state tournament in Reno.
“They’re a good basketball team,” Fallon coach Brad Barton said. “Honestly, we’ve only had two bad quarters against them.”
Lowry won the season series beating Fallon, 59-36, on Jan. 11, sparked by a 19-11 third quarter, and 66-54 on Feb. 8, thanks to a 22-13 run in the third quarter.
“Both third quarters we let them go on a little bit of a run and that took us out of the game,” Barton said. “We played six good quarters against them, so if we can find a way to eliminate their runs and stay within our game plan I think we have a good shot at it.”
Leading the charge for Fallon is Jeff Evett, who shredded Sparks and South Tahoe last week scoring 30 and 21 points, respectively, in each game. He averages 15.8 points per game and is second in rebounding with 4.1.
His wingmen consist of point guard Connor Richardson (7.1 ppg, 2.2 assists), center Beau Marshall (7.8 ppg, 3.4 rpg), Tyler Bagby (7.1 ppg) and Clay Davidson (5.4 ppg, 4.4 rpg).
Barton, though, knows Lowry will plan around Evett, which makes the rest of the club including other threats such as Ryan Stockard, Tristen Salazar and others more vital.
“Evett’s been looking forward to this opportunity,” Barton said. “He thinks he’s a little bit underrated … and I think he’s a little bit underrated in this league. He gets his team involved, but it’s going to take a couple other guys to get hot for us to be successful this weekend.”
Lowry, meanwhile, cruised through league play and capped the season with an upset win over Elko to capture the league crown.
Led by 6-foot-8 center Josh Watterson (12.2 ppg, 7.1 rpg), the Buckaroos are aiming to return to the state tournament for the sixth consecutive season. Joining Watterson are Garrett Naveran (11.0 ppg, 5.7 rpg) and point guard Calvin Connors (6.7 ppg, 3.5 apg).
“We haven’t boxed out well the whole year against them,” Barton said. “We are going to experiment with putting some bigger guys in. We are going to be a little more physical with them.”
The physical and aggressive style of play, Barton said, is key to keep Watterson and Naveran in check. Conversely, Fallon must attack and make smart decisions to stay in the game.
“A lot of times we get passive and make unproductive moves,” Barton said. “When we are attacking, kicking to open players, out percentages go up.”