Fallon’s quest for second state title begins Thursday against Boulder City

Two down, one to go.

After winning the Northern 3A regular title and then last weekend’s regional crown in a double-overtime thriller, the Greenwave boys basketball team is seeking to retain its state title from a year ago.

Fallon, which beat Elko last year in overtime on a 3-point shot from Elijah Jackson, stopped the Indians in Saturday’s regional championship, 53-51, after Avery Strasdin nailed a 3-pointer from in front of the student section with seconds left in the second overtime.

Greenwave coach Chelle Dalager did her homework in scouting both Del Sol, which won the Southern 3A, and Boulder City, the runner-up which Fallon faces Thursday at 5:10 p.m. at Reno High School. KTTU-FM (99.5) will broadcast the game with Larry Barker calling the action, and Randy Beeghly and Anne Smith providing the color.

A sendoff for the team is planned on Thursday before the team leaves at 2:30 p.m.

“Boulder City is big on the perimeter,” Dalager said. “Their big 6-foot, 6-inch player (Ethan Speaker) plays guard. One of their leading scorers (Matt Morton) is about 6-4.”

Speaker is averaging 25.5 points per game, and his best game of the season came against Democracy Prep Agassi Campus when he scorched the nets for 39 points. He also pulls down an average of 11 rebounds per game.

Morton, on the other hand, averages 15.1 points per game, and his high game of the season came against Skyline when he pumped in 27 points.

On paper, both the Greenwave and Eagles match up evenly. Boulder City finished 20-10 overall, and 11-1 in league. The Eagles’ last three games were all nail biters: 67-62 over Agassi, 80-78 over Sunrise Mountain in triple OT and a 64-62 loss to Del Sol in overtime for the Southern 3A crown.

The Greenwave finished 21-6, 17-1 in the Northern 3A.

“They don’t share the basketball very well once they penetrate the defense,” Dalager said. “They are great rebounding, big and long and go after the boards hard.”

Dalager said the Eagles remind her of the Greenwave with the sets they run with Speaker and Morton. When Dalager saw the Eagles play in person and then saw the video, she said the Eagles don’t handle pressure well. Their defense appears to be fairly solid, though.

“They play really good defense, but they don’t look like Elko,” Dalager pointed out. “Elko has too many weapons.”

When Elko shut down Fallon’s leading scorer Elijah Jackson in Saturday’s championship game, Dalager said other players stepped up. She cited Samuel Robertson, who played great defense and launched a needed 3-pointer against Elko, and Toby Anderson, at 6-4, who had his biggest game of the season.

While the Fallon defense prevailed against Elko, she said the offense struggled.

“Offense has always been a roller coaster,” Dalager said. “The offense fluctuates with ups and downs and surges. I don’t know what kid will have a run or when the defense will break down.”

Dalager stresses defense must be consistent game after game. Against Elko, Fallon allowed 51 points, and Dalager said the Fallon players had to contain their opponents one-on-one. After scoring 33 points the night before against South Tahoe, Jackson struggled with 11 points. Yet, Dalager said his defense compensated.

“As long as your score is close and the game is within reach, I don’t get too excite playing OT. It doesn’t get me stressed out,” she said.

Yet, the overtime win was exciting, not only for the players but for the standing-room crowd at the Elmo Dericco Gym.

“We’ve had great focus in the second half of the season, she said, adding the team has reached every goal so far. Fallon won league by a game over Elko, and then the regional title.

“The regional tourney was a big thing win,” she added. “It’s been a long time since that’s happened.”

While Boulder City has weapons, so does Fallon.

Jackson, though, is averaging 19.9 points per game with his season high against South Tahoe. Thomas Steele is averaging 16.2 points game, and Strasdin has improved his average to 11.6 points per game. Elko is history — for now —and Boulder City is on their minds.

“We just know what this opportunity is and we have to put this behind us,” Jackson said of the Elko win.

Playing in their backyard — so to speak — will give the Greenwave an opportunity to play in front of their fans again at Reno High School. Dalager said Fallon has played well on the road this season. She expressed her disappointment the first-round game is at the high school and not Lawlor Events Center.

“When kids make it to state, they should be able to play on a big floor,” she said

For the Wave to play in the big arena, Dalager said the players must take care of business on Thursday.

Although Strasdin played in last year’s game, about half of the team didn’t. Dalager said he’s happy Anthony Geer played on varsity this season, and he keeps improving with each game. The postseason is also a new experience.

“There are players who have been there and know about it,” Strasdin said of the state championship games. “They know what to expect. We’ve got to prepare our younger guys to show up when they need to.”


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