RENO — The Greenwave boys basketball team — faced with players in foul trouble in the fourth quarter — saw a 23-point lead quickly evaporate as Boulder City mounted an offensive onslaught led by their 6-foot, 6-inch center Ethan Spears.
Clutch free throws and baskets late in the fourth quarter, though, preserved a 67-57 win over the Eagles at Reno High School, and combined with Elko’s 73-65 victory over Del Sol, the state championship today will be a rematch of last year’s title game that Fallon won in overtime. The Wave also survived last week’s regional game against Elko, which Fallon won in double overtime, 53-51.
Elko faces Fallon today at 1:50 p.m. at Lawlor Events Center. The game will also be aired on KKTU-FM, 99.5.
The Greenwave withstood Boulder City’s furious fourth quarter Thursday in which the Eagles scored more points in one quarter than they did for the first three. Leading 50-27, the Wave saw their lead slowly disappear ignited by Spears 3-point baskets 15 seconds into the final quarter.
The Eagles put together a 10-0 run aided by three free throws and additional baskets from Matt Morton and Spears. The Eagles’ defense kept the Wave away from the boards until the 5:03 mark when Fallon’s 6-4 forward Thomas Steele slid inside for a lay in.
Fallon, with Steele, Avery Strasdin and Toby Anderson in foul trouble, played more cautiously in the final quarter to defend its huge lead.
Both teams traded baskets midway throughout the fourth quarter. Steele’s hook shot on a put back gave the Wave a 54-38 lead, but Speaker quickly responded with a layup on the opposite side of the court and two free throws the next time down the floor.
Anderson took advantage of a sagging defense to put back a basket after Elijah Jackson missed and 20 seconds later on a smooth layup.
With 2:02 remaining in regulation play, Fallon led 60-45 after Boulder City’s Mason Hood connected on a hook shot, but Morton delivered a big blow when he launched an arching trey in front of the Eagles’ bench. Fallon kept answering the Eagles with another Steele layup and a free throw from Strasdin. Speaker, though, rode the momentum wave and swished a pull-up 3-pointer from the top of the key to cut the Fallon lead to 12 points with 58 seconds left in regulation play.
Boulder City outscored Fallon 6-3 on a pair of layups from Speaker and Jacob Sanford and two free throws from Morton. Fallon’s final points came from the charity stripe, two free throws from Strasdin and one from Brock Richardson.
The Wave never trailed against the Eagles. Fallon jumped on Boulder City for a 9-2 lead by working the baseline, and Jackson nailing a long shot from the near side and a put back. Speaker, who averages more than 25 points per game, scored his first points of the game on a baseline layup. The Eagles chipped away and trailed 14-10 going into the second quarter after Anderson worked the inside to put back a rebound. Fallon gradually pulled away from Boulder City in the second quarter, outscoring the Eagles 16-10.
Speaker kept Boulder City in the game with six points, but the Wave spread the ball around in an offensive show with Steele and Anderson keeping Boulder City off the boards and Richardson streaking underneath the rim for a reverse layup. The Wave visited the free throw line, sinking five shots, and Fallon’s half-court pressure caused the Eagles to turn the ball over numerous times.
Richardson put a cap on the quarter with a long 3-pointer from the left corner to give Fallon a 30-20 lead at intermission.
The Greenwave rode their first-half momentum to shock Boulder City with a 20-7 third quarter. Jackson worked his way open for a long 3-pointer, and Steele pounded the baseline with a 5-foot jump shot to open the second half.
Jackson became a wrecking ball against the Eagles’ defense with another 3-pointer and a 10-foot jump shot, and Steele scooped up the missed shot. The Greenwave offense worked the ball patiently, giving Anderson the occasional open shot as he connected on baskets from the baseline, a set shot from the free-throw line and another from the inside.