Sierra Lutheran basketball makes history
Special to The R-C
The Sierra Lutheran Falcons made history in their 2016-2017 basketball season. This year marked the first time that both the varsity girls and varsity boys teams made it to regionals, the first time that both of these teams won the first game at regionals, and the first time that the Lady Falcons were the champions of their league.
The varsity girls played their first game of the tournament on Thursday in Elko, 39-27 against Wells. Led by Grace Bonafede with 14 points and 10 rebounds, the Falcons executed a tremendous offense against the opposing team.
Clare Davison also scored 14 points and made seven assists. Claire Cochran and Marin Woomer also scored two points each in the outstanding first regional game. Both the girls and the boys team won their first game, resulting in cheers and applause of excitement on the bus that night.
Spirits were high on Friday when the varsity girls entered the Elko High School gym to play their second game of the tournament against the Eureka Vandals, however, they came out on the short end of a 43-25 score. Brynna Hansen, a junior, led the game with 10 points and five rebounds. Claire Cochran, Clare Davison, and Aleyna Gilson, a junior, all made 3-pointers in this game, contributing to an added 6 points by Grace Bonafede and two points by Jee Benton.
“It was an amazing opportunity to be able to go to regionals two years in a row with such a close team,” said Woomer, a senior. “My freshman and sophomore year, I thought that we would never make it to regionals, but that just shows that working hard will bring you rewards. Now it is not ‘I would like to go to regionals’ — it is ‘We have gone to regionals twice, and we are capable of doing it again.’”
Clare Davison’s advice for next year’s team is to “keep the bonding close because that is how we were able to go so far.” Jee Benton added, “God blessed us with a postseason. When we lost, I guess I was disappointed that all of our hard work had come to a stop. After our loss against Eureka, our locker room meeting consisted of lots of tears because everyone gave speeches of how proud we are of each other, the great friendship we have, the support we have had from friends, parents and families, and how far we have come as a team.”
The atmosphere of the gym on Friday night was very emotional once the varsity boys exited the locker room after losing their second game. The varsity teams and their five managers hugged each other and expressed their pride, happiness, gratitude, sadness, and nostalgia. Fourteen seniors — nine players and five managers — will be departing from the Sierra Lutheran basketball department, leaving a legacy behind them. The students applauded their coaches that night before the bus ride to their hotel.
Michael Nelson, the head coach of the varsity girls team, proudly declared: “The most rewarding thing about this season was watching this group of five seniors take the reigns, lead by example, lead with their voice and truly earn every bit of success that they had. They have set the bar high for the future and I know the returning kids will want to honor that with as much effort as they can.”