Live by the 3. Die by the 3.
In what may have been déjà vu from last year’s state 3A championship boys basketball game, the cardiac kids from Fallon defeated Elko Saturday afternoon for this year’s regional title with the long ball.
With 12 seconds remaining in double overtime at the rolling and raucous Elmo Dericco Gym, the Greenwave’s Avery Strasdin calmly unleashed a long arching 3-point shot from the corner to erase an Elko lead to put Fallon on top 53-51.
Strasdin said his role was take away a defender so Elijah Jackson could make a shot.
“I was the last option,” Strasdin said. “I was just sitting in the corner being a decoy and waiting for it.”
Strasdin, who led Fallon with 27 points, said he thought Elko’s Sean Klekas was going to guard him. Instead, Klekas shifted to double team Jackson, and Greenwave guard Anthony Geer fed the ball to Strasdin.
“He turned his back on me,” Strasdin said of Klekas. “I was just able to get free. They lost sight of me.”
Strasdin, who felt good after releasing the trey, started to shuffle back after hitting the eventual game-winning shot.
“Every time in practice when we’re working on our offense, every time he shoots over there, it’s money,” Jackson said. “As soon as he shot it, I knew it was going in.”
An offensive foul committed by Klekas with seconds to go preserved the victory and denied Elko a final shot as the Greenwave clinched the regional title and the No. 1 seed going into Thursday’s state finals.
“With all good basketball teams, you have a first, second, third, fourth and fifth option,” said Fallon coach Chelle Dalager. “Brock Richardson wasn’t supposed to shoot that shot, but he was the only one open. That’s great and that’s basketball.”
Students ran onto the court after the game, which preceded the presentation of the regional plaque and each Greenwave player and coach cutting down the net.
“They’re really calm in tough situations,” Dalager said. “They’ve been there. Lots of them are football players. Some of them we have from last year in our overtime games. It’s good for us to play against good competition in a tough situation because I assure you that’s how it’s going to be at state.”
The win also snapped Elko’s streak of nine consecutive regional titles.
Now, the last two chapters from the storied rivalry between two of the top teams in the 3A goes to Fallon (21-6 overall), which defeated Elko (23-5) on a last second 3-pointer from Jackson in last year’s state championship game. The miracle 57-54 victory gave the Greenwave their first state championship since 1971. Fallon also won a double overtime game at home against Elko in 2003.
Another chapter begins on Thursday for the defending state champions when they face Boulder City in a 5:10 p.m. game at Reno High School. While Fallon is savoring the regional title, Jackson knows there’s another week.
“We just know what this opportunity is and we have to put this behind us,” Jackson said
The Greenwave seniors — Jackson, Thomas Steele, Geer and Richardson — went out in style, winning their final four games at home after sweeping Elko and Spring Creek — 64-49 and 62-39 respectively — on the road earlier in the month. Ironically, Fallon’s only loss on the home court came to Elko on Jan. 4 in a 49-36 setback. Fallon was missing Jackson because of injury.
The Greenwave’s rally in Saturday’s game showed grit and determination, propelled by the loud cheering and screaming from a standing-room only crowd, yet there’s a difference between regional and state games.
“It helped us in the last seconds of the game and we go into overtimes because we’ve kind of been through it,” Dalager said. “We haven’t experienced overtime in our (current) season but what a great environment to do that in. Sometimes you play overtime in a regular-season game and there’s not a lot of fans. It’s not loud and it’s not the same. This experience right now is how it’s supposed to be, and it’s going to help us be better.”
Fallon began the fourth quarter down 37-33, but Strasdin sunk 1 of 2 free throws after being fouled and then connected with a basket from the Fallon bench side to cut the lead to a point.
Fallon’s chief nemesis during the past two seasons, Michael Klekas, buried a trey from top of the key to give the Indians a four-point lead, 40-36.
Steele, who struggled on offense, scored his first points on a basket from the inside, and Strasdin tied the game with a long, lofty shot. Jackson then fouled on the next possession. Elko sophomore guard Dawson Dumas’ first shot hit the back rim, but his second free throw gave the Indians a 41-40 lead.
With less than two minutes remaining in regulation time, Toby Anderson and Steel sunk consecutive shots to give the Wave a 44-41 lead, but with 1:24 on the clock, Ej Alvarez wiggled free in front of the Elko bench for a trey to tie the game.
Both teams took consecutive time outs, while the “Battle of the Two Pep Bands” pumped the crowd up. Neither team could shake off the tie once play resumed.
In the first overtime, Jackson and Michael Klekas traded baskets. After a timeout with 1:29 left, Elko inbounded the ball, and Jake Zeller, who had 17 points, gave Elko a 48-46 lead. In the clutch Jackson responded to tie the score.
The Greenwave defense played aggressively during the final minute to cause Michael Klekas to miss a 3-point basket off the rim. A scramble ensued for the ball, but time ran out to send the game into its second overtime.
Both teams saved the best for the final pages, but the game’s beginning was not what Fallon, a 70-40 winner over South Tahoe the night before, scripted.
Elko jumped on the Wave for a quick 5-0 lead in the first quarter on a 3-pointer from Michael Klekas and fast-break layup from Zeller. Strasdin countered with a layup from the left side, and Jackson followed with a turnaround 10-foot jump shot.
The Indians surged ahead to lead 11-8, but the Wave had the final basket of the quarter when Anderson sunk a shot at the buzzer.
Fallon grabbed its first lead of the game at the 5:29 mark of the second quarter.
After Strasdin tied the game on a layup from the right side, Anderson added a layup and soft jump shot to put Fallon on top, 17-13.
Zeller took control for Elko and scored the next eight points as Elko led 22-17.
Strasdin and Michael Klekas traded the final two shots, Strasdin splitting the defense in the middle, and Klekas with a putback shot after Zeller missed.
“We were moving better defensively,” Dalager said. “The only thing that didn’t go right was our offensive sets in the beginning. We were a little stagnant. We really focused on that in the pregame, and they fought that for a long time.”
The Greenwave never regained the lead in the third quarter. At one point, Elko led 32-21 before Fallon mounted a 12-5 run with Strasdin sinking a long trey and two layups.
With Elko double and sometimes triple-teaming Jackson and Steele and with Steele facing foul trouble, Dalager said she brought players off the bench and they responded.
“Toby (Anderson) had a great game,” she said. “Samuel (Robertson) had a great game rebounding and played defense really well. Everybody on our team did their job. Nikki (Anthony Geer) ran the offense and played good defense. Thomas (Steele) contained Michael (Klekas). Nikki and Brock on Sean and Avery on Isaiah Dahl. Dahl is one of their best guards and I think Avery did a great job shutting him down.”
Anderson and Jackson each had 11 points. Michael Klekas finished the day with 11 points.
Fallon 70, South Tahoe 40
Elijah Jackson not only lit up the Elmo Dericco Gym Friday night but also the South Tahoe defense.
The Fallon senior scored 33 points as the Fallon offense rolled in a 70-40 win over South Tahoe in the semifinals of the Northern 3A regional basketball tournament being played in Fallon.
Going into the third quarter, Jackson scored 15 points in the first half and sunk 5 of 6 free throws. The third quarter was showtime as Jackson’s teammates fed him the ball time after time. Jackson’s athleticism showed with a spinning layup to a one-handed dunk that brought the Fallon faithful to their feet. The South Tahoe defense was no match for Fallon’s numerous offensive weapons and the team’s quickness.
Fallon led the Vikings 38-26 but then surged ahead on a 12-2 run until Ethan Ward scored for South Tahoe. Jackson then rattled off six points, two coming from a long shot inside the 3-point line and the third when he backed up several steps for a 12-foot jump shot. He scored his final basket in the quarter on a reverse layup to give the Wave a 58-33 lead going into the final period.
The Wave strung together an 8-4 run with Jackson hitting a layup n a fast-break feed from Thomas Steele and sinking two free throws. With the Vikings trailing 66-36, Fallon coach Chelle Dalager cleared the bench and rested the starters.
The Wave, though, started the game slowly with both teams trading baskets. Steele, though, nailed a 3-pointer for the Greenwave’s first points of the game.
South Tahoe, which never led, tied the game at 5 after Jake Tarwater’s bank shot . He was fouled on the play and swished a free throw.
The Wave then pounded the boards and hardwood for a 17-5 run to lead 22-10. Jackson scored 10 points, while Brock Richardson added a trey. Avery Strasdin worked the baseline for a basket. Steele and Toby Anderson, the Greenwave’s tandem 6-foot, 4-inch weapons, kept the Vikings off the boards for most of the night.
South Tahoe’s free-throw shooting made the second quarter close. Cameron Lehmann scored seven points for the Vikings, and Frank Aquilina connected on South Tahoe’s only trey of the game. Lehmann and Tarwater each led South Tahoe with nine points.
With 2:21 remaining before halftime, South Tahoe sliced Fallon’s lead to seven points, 31-24, the closest the Vikings came to the Greenwave.