The will to win is strong in Mineral County, as the school with rich basketball history dominated Jackpot, 62-26, in the Division IV North region girls quarterfinals Thursday at Galena.
It’s no surprise that Mineral County first-year coach Foster Kenton said that all season he’s been pointing up to the rafters where the Serpents’ 10 state championship banners hang at their school’s gym.
The result: a 25-2 overall record, a 13-0 record in league play and an 18-game win streak heading into the semifinals against Eureka at 6:20 p.m. today at North Valleys.
“They’ve been committing to winning, and we’ve brought the tradition back to Hawthorne,” Kenton said. “I’ve stressed the importance of this by pointing up to our championship banners, and we have some great girls that I think will keep it up to hopefully start our dynasty back up.”
Senior Brittany McFalls came off the bench as a slight punishment for breaking a minor team rule, but finished with a game-high 16 points.
“I’ll definitely never do it (break team rules) again, because this is the first time I’ve had the experience of not being a starter,” McFalls said. “It wasn’t as tough as I thought it would be to look on, though, because I have a lot of confidence in my teammates.
“I wouldn’t trade them for anything.”
Kenton said McFalls coming off the bench was just the spark the Serpents needed, and Mineral County senior Alicia Carlos proved his point, as she added 10 points with her outside shooting in the close-out victory.
Mineral County sophomore Ashari Shakir was the main beneficiary in the key, and she took advantage of the opportunity, putting up 10 points.
“The girls have been waiting to play against Eureka in this tournament all season,” Kenton said. “They’ve been our nemesis the past two years because that’s who has knocked them out every time. It’s almost like we have unfinished business with them, but our destiny is Vegas (state). That’s our focus.”
EUREKA 44, SMITH VALLEY 33 at Galena: Eureka survived a run-in with Smith Valley.
The Vandals (8-3) stole a 14-point advantage versus the Bulldogs (8-5) with about three minutes left in the first half and rode the lead, although they were outscored 22-19 from that point on.
“The reason they (Bulldogs) came back is because they’re a good team, they saw a lot of things we were doing and adjusted so that they could play better than us in the second half,” Eureka coach Ken Fujii said. “I thought the difference was Melissa (Damele) since she did such a great job running the offense and playing good solid defense.”
Damele facilitated had eight points and several assists to her team’s leading scorer, junior guard Natalie Norcutt, who finished with a game-high 22 points.
“Melissa blew a knee last season, missed a lot of this stuff (tournament play) and it was a big hit to our team, but she has come back strong and really developed into an excellent point guard over the four years I’ve coached her,” Fujii said. “I look forward to seeing how she finishes this tournament.”
MCDERMITT 43, VIRGINIA CITY 33 at Bishop Manogue: After two straight seasons of being knocked out of the tournament by Virginia City, McDermitt finally got past its nemesis.
Senior point guard Staheli Wilkinson led McDermitt with 16 points. The bulldogs started three freshmen, but it was the senior point guard’s experience that led the team to the victory.
“Our freshmen will tell you they really rely on the seniors for leadership,” Wilkinson said. “They’ve never played any big basketball games. Any time there’s a little bit of pressure, they look up to us.”
Virginia City trailed throughout the game, but stayed close until midway through the third quarter when Wilkinson drained a 3-pointer to put McDermitt up by 13. The three was part of an 11-2 run the Bulldogs opened the second half with and left Virginia City with too deep of a hole to climb out of.
McDermitt will play Wells at 3 p.m. today at North Valleys.
— Justin Scacco, Special to the RGJ
WELLS 61, COLEVILLE 10 at Bishop Manogue: The top-ranked Leopards had no problem with the fourth seed from the West League, holding the Wolves scoreless across the second and third quarters and emptying their bench in the second half.
Wells (22-2) led 19-6 after one quarter and 38-6 at halftime. The Leopards’ 46-6 lead with 3 minutes left in the third resulted in a running clock for the remainder of the game.
“That’s the way we’ve been playing all year; we just generally play really good defense and have a lot of team speed,” Wells coach Clay Fitch said. “The running clock allows us the luxury to play some of the younger girls and work on some things, like inserting a zone (defense).”
Wells will meet McDermitt in today’s semifinals at North Valleys.
Emily Pengilly led Wells with 17 points. Stephanie Sandoval scored six for Coleville.
— Duke Ritenhouse, RGJ