Next Tuesday, January 14th, league play begins here in Northern Nevada for our high school basketball teams. Teams have played out-of-state competition, holiday tournaments, and familiar non-league foes from across the Truckee Meadows. Friday night the Mustangs hosted the Reed Raiders.
Reed’s varsity boys basketball team is one of the surprise stories of the season. After Friday night’s game the Raiders are 11-3. Friday night they forced a number of turnovers with full court pressure and a trapping defense. With the ball the Raiders are aggressive, pushing it up the floor looking for quick scores. Two Raiders stood out in particular on Friday night, Ridge Peterson and Trey Stevens, a dynamic backcourt duo. The Raiders sprinted out to a ten-point advantage in the first quarter, however, Damonte cut the margin to five at the half. The Raiders came out and pushed the lead to eleven in the third quarter, playing tenacious defense. In the fourth the Mustangs kept things close, and had a great opportunity to seriously narrow the gap after a hard-foul and a technical gave the Mustangs four free throws and the ball, but, they only connected on one free throw and didn’t score on the ensuing possession. Give Damonte credit, they stayed within striking distance, but the Raiders picked up the victory, 59-50.
Coach Voyles puts the ball in the capable hands of Javin Basabas much of the time who plays at a speed many defenders struggle with, and has a way of getting shots off against much larger defenders. Basabas’ backcourt running mate, Mitch Conway, was held out with a lower leg injury, but he anticipates playing Manogue Tuesday night. Nolan Urso and Larry Ballard roam the paint for Mustangs. Eddie Tierney and Nick Vargas are outside threats; Tierney hit a number of deep threes for the Mustangs Friday night. Amare Canner started Friday night and Coach Voyles has a deep bench, playing Joel Angus, Ethan Kulpin, and Dylan Simeoni.
On the girls side it was a very different story. Damonte raced out to a 20-2 lead and were in control from start-to-finish. I have never seen a Damonte girls varsity team play with the type of intensity that I saw Friday night. They play aggressively on the defensive side of the ball, outrebounded a taller Raiders squad, and moved the ball efficiently on offensive, taking smart, high percentage, shots.
Coach Erica McKenzie might end up being a coach of the year candidate if she can keep this young team going in this direction. She is starting two freshman, who are not playing like freshman: Seini Tuipulotu and Khalilah Corley. Tuipulotu is a natural born scorer and Corley has the type of basketball instincts you can’t coach, you either have them or you don’t. Corley and Tuipulotu play alongside varsity veterans Hilinai Smith, Alyssa Barnard, Ellie Kulpin, Cyril Moore, and Josie Clark. Coach McKenzie played everyone Friday night which should pay dividends during league play and in the playoffs.
Tuesday night the Mustangs host the Bishop Manogue Miners. The Miners are the measuring stick for Sierra League basketball with both their boys and girls programs regularly winning League and making deep playoff runs. The girls will tipoff Tuesday at 5:15 and the boys 7:00 PM.