ELKO — After Elko defeated a short-handed Fallon team last month, the Greenwave returned the favor on Saturday.
The Elko boys basketball team — minus the Klekas brothers — were gashed early in a 64-49 loss to defending state champion Fallon, the Greenwave splitting the season series after a 49-36 home loss to the Indians on Jan. 4 when Fallon’s Elijah Jackson sat out the entire game and Brock Richardson left in the second half with an injury.
“It’s just a trade-off. We had Elijah out last game. The unfortunate part about basketball is you have to deal with injury,” Fallon coach Chelle Dalager said. “We just got Brock back. Yes, they were down and yes, Michael’s a great basketball player. I hate when kids have to sit out because of injury. It’s kind of part of the game. NFL, NBA, you’re very fortunate to make it through a season without an injury.”
Fallon assumed the No. 1 position of the Division 3A North standings, thanks to Elko’s 77-76 loss to No. 3 Lowry on Friday night — the Indians falling on their home floor for the first time in consecutive contests since back-to-back defeats on Dec. 8 and Dec. 9, 2011. Saturday’s win in Elko is the first time Fallon left victorious since the Aarik Wilson era when Corey Williams’ team won in 2001. Dalager was the girls coach at that time.
Fallon closes out the regular season this week with home games against Lowry on Tuesday and Dayton on Friday. The Wave needed to beat Lowry to win the regular-season title and No. 1 seed for next week’s regional tournament in Fallon.
Even without their a couple of their stars, Dalager said the team was prepared because of Elko’s quality and depth.
“They’re very competitive. That was our biggest challenge, for me as a coach, to use Elijah’s situation and other kids stepped up in our program. That’s the same thing Elko had to do,” Dalager said.
Each team only had five players score in the contest.
Jackson scored 14 of his game-high 20 points in the first quarter — nailing three 3s in the frame — and Thomas Steele booked 13 of his 20 points before halftime. Avery Strasdin finished with 15 points, the trio combining for 55 of Fallon’s 64 points. Toby Anderson tallied six points and the offense was rounded out by a three from Anthony Geer.
Elko was led by 12 points from Isaiah Dahl, and Jake Zeller and Brig Johnson served as the Indians’ second and third players in double digits with 10 points apiece. Dawson Dumas’ nine points call came by way of three 3s.
The contest was essentially sealed in the first quarter, the Greenwave opening the game with a red-hot flurry for a 24-9 advantage in the first quarter.
“That kind of set the pace for the first quarter,” Dalager said of Strasdin’s two opening steals. “I believe strongly we’re one of the best defensive teams in the league.”
Steele scored the first bucket for Fallon from a steal and dish by Strasdin, who added the next field goal from another takeaway for an And-1 plus the free throw.
Elko was not strong with the basketball in the early going, committing a multitude of turnovers and allowing a number of rebounds on both ends of the floor.
Jackson scored on a backdoor cut and dime from Steele for a 7-0 lead, the Indians’ drought stopped by a deep three from sophomore Dumas — who was in his second game back from a stress fracture.
Jackson answered with a three of his own from the right corner, and Steele stuck a bank shot from the left side.
Following a block on defense, Elko junior Brig Johnson scored on the break from a long outlet pass by Dumas.
From long distance, Jackson’s second three opened a 15-5 lead for the Wave.
Dahl scored on a reverse along the baseline from a pass by Zeller, but Fallon went back up 10 with a deuce by junior Anderson from an offensive board.
Jackson tried rising for a two-handed jam but was met at the tin with a block by Dahl, who was called for a foul, both free throws finding the bottom of the net.
Against solid defense, Jackson hammered his third triple of frame with a nasty step-back jumper — giving him 14 points in the frame.
Steele opened a 24-7 lead with a pull-up J from the elbow, Dahl following with a deuce for the Indians.
After the first quarter, the Indians faced an uphill battle — down 15 — with the score at 24-9.
Zeller hit a three from an offensive rebound by Dahl — Steele hitting a free throw on the other end — and Dahl scored on a sweet pass by senior Max Shurtz.
However, Steele went back to work and finished from a feed by Strasdin.
From an offensive rebound, Johnson scored his second bucket of the ballgame for the Indians — Steele owning the middle with a strong drive for the Wave.
Strasdin opened a 31-16 lead with a wicked scoop on the left block, but Johnson gathered a loose ball after a Steele swat and scored a second-chance deuce for the Indians.
Anderson finished inside for Fallon after a filthy pass from Jackson, but Elko senior EJ Alvarez found the range and cashed a three.
Near the end of the half, Steele buried a runner — booking his 12th and 13th points of the half — opening a 14-point lead at the break.
By halftime, Jackson and Steele outscored Elko 27-21 — Fallon on top 35-21.
Fallon blows out Spring Creek
Despite some missed shots they usually make and some uncharacteristic turnovers, the Fallon boys basketball team showed why it is the defending state champ.
On Friday, the Greenwave made a number of significant runs in a 62-39 victory over the Spartans on Spring Creek’s senior night.
“We played a complete game against Spring Creek,” Dalager said. “Defensively, we did well. We didn’t really have any breaks in our offense. We ran through our stuff pretty well. It’s always tough playing in Spring Creek.”
Jackson scored a game-high 22 points and hit four 3s, Steele following closely with 20 points. Strasdin added seven points, Anderson closed with six and Nick Springfield tallied all five of his points in the fourth quarter — the Wave’s offense rounded out by two points from Richardson.
The Spartans scored the first bucket of the ballgame, junior Jayce Esplin finishing on a post-entry pass from senior Cohen Woster. Fallon went to the front on a three from the left side by senior Elijah Jackson, but Spring Creek took a 4-3 lead on a save by Woster that went straight to senior Kyle Owsley for a gimme in the middle.
Jackson penetrated and score for a 5-4 lead for the Greenwave, the Spartans taking a 6-5 advantage on a pair of free throws by senior Reed Westwood. After the makes, Fallon took off on a quick 6-0 run.
Steele spun free along the baseline and banked home an And-1, adding another deuce after some offensive rebounds by his teammates.
From a steal, Jackson went the distance for a layup. Junior Grant Brorby broke the streak with a layup along the baseline from a drive for the Spartans, but the frame closed with a 7-0 spurt. Jackson took a handoff and drained his second triple, and Steele used textbook footwork for a bunny on the right block.
Just before the buzzer, Strasdin made a steal on the left sideline and drove the floor with a slam dunk.
At the end of the first, Fallon led by 10 at 18-8.
Steele opened the second with another clinic in the post for a deuce, but Spring Creek junior Aaron Lousignont tallied consecutive buckets for the Spartans — scoring on a pass from Woster and adding two from an offensive board. Jackson hit a pair of free throws for a double-up lead at 24-12, but Woster went 1-for-2 on the other side.
Strasdin scored five straight with a three and a nice drive across the paint for a lefty layup, Steele booking his sixth field goal of the half from a sweet pass by Jackson in transition. Jackson tried to throw down a lob on the break but missed the stuff, regathering along the baseline for a bunny on the left block and a 20-point, 33-13 lead.
Steele capped an 11-0 run with a pair of free throws, and the half closed with a steal and coast-to-coast finish by Owsley.
By halftime, the Wave opened a 20-point lead at 35-15.