Falcons receive league honors
Four years ago, a group of freshmen basketball players established some lofty expectations for their future at Sierra High School. Those expectations were realized during a senior season this winter in which the Falcons flew to a 19-8 overall record and the first league championship in program history.
And this week, Sierra Lutheran reaped additional awards when three players received Western 1A all-league recognition and Mike Nelson was honored as Coach of the Year. Grace Bonafede was a first-team pick, Clare Davison a second-team pick and Brynna Hansen received honorable mention recognition.
“I am so proud of my team. They have worked so hard to reach their goals and make school history,” Nelson observed. “As freshmen, my seniors set a goal to be the first girls team to make the regional tournament, and they achieved that last year.
“This year, they were not satisfied with just being there, they wanted to win some games,” the coach continued. “So they put in long hours in the summer honing their craft, and the results were the realization of their goal and being the league champs.”
The Falcons saw their bid to qualify for the state tournament in Las Vegas fall short last weekend with a 43-25 region semifinal loss in Elko against the eventual champion Eureka Vandals, however, that did nothing to take away from the Falcons’ team and individual achievements.
Bonafede topped the all-league honors for the Falcons, who finished their regular season with a 13-1 league record. The 5-foot-10 senior post player averaged 12.5 points and 10 rebounds per game this season. She set school single-season records for points and rebounds this season, Nelson pointed out.
“Grace has made enormous strides over the four years here,” he said. “She came in as a raw aggressive fouling machine and became our offensive focal point. Her development is a direct correlation to our team’s success.”
Davison, another senior, was voted to the second-team and Hansen, a junior, made the honorable mention list. Davison set school career and single-season records for assists and steals, Nelson said.
“Clare has been a solid leader since she was a freshman … a three-year starter who draws the toughest defensive assignment every night and plays every minute,” Nelson noted. “Her calming presence has allowed us to maintain composure during times of struggle. She is the one everyone looks to for guidance.”
Nelson shared credit for his Coach of the Year award.
“I am humbled and honored that my fellow coaches voted me Coach of the Year,” Nelson explained. “Having spent 10 years at the helm (at Sierra Lutheran), the Lord has taught me many things including encouragement and patience. He has been my strength through the lean years and been my rock during this time of success. However, it wouldn’t be possible without the team I have been blessed with. They inspire me to continue to work hard at my craft and be at my best.
“I also have to give my principal, Juls Clausen, credit for his mentorship. By giving me his wisdom, he has allowed this program to see the success it has seen these past two years.”