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SMALL SCHOOLS: Injury could test Bulldogs’ depth in 3A boys tournament

Depth and balanced scoring have keyed Virgin Valley’s run to the Class 3A state boys basketball tournament.
They could become even bigger factors for the Bulldogs, as their leading scorer, senior forward Jason Wittwer, continues to recover from a grade-two sprain in his left ankle.
Wittwer suffered the injury with about three minutes left in Virgin Valley’s 70-61 win over Moapa Valley in Saturday’s 3A Southern League title game.
Wittwer said he hopes to play in the state tournament, but it’s uncertain if he’ll be 100 percent if he does play.
“I hurt my ankle pretty bad,” he said. “I might be 100 percent; I might not. I’ll have to see as the week goes.”
Virgin Valley (19-6) will play Lowry (14-11) in a state semifinal at 4:40 p.m. Friday at Damonte Ranch High in Reno. The final is set for 1:40 p.m. Saturday at UNR’s Lawlor Events Center.
The 6-foot-3-inch Wittwer leads the Bulldogs in points (15.9) and steals (2.6) and is second in rebounds (6.2) and assists (2.7).
Virgin Valley coach Rich Bohne said Wittwer’s injury is of particular concern because his game is based largely on quickness and getting out in transition.
“That’ll be a big factor, his health,” Bohne said. “He plays at a high speed. If he hobbles, it could be a setback for us.”
If Wittwer is limited, however, the Bulldogs have no shortage of players capable of picking up the slack.
Junior guard Cameron Jensen had 31 points in the league tournament final against Moapa Valley and is the team’s second-leading scorer at 14.9 points per game.
“Even when I went down, I wasn’t worried because our team is pretty deep,” Wittwer said. “If I get hurt, we can bring another guy in.”
The Bulldogs also get key contributions from guard Austin Cloes (9.7 points, 3.0 assists) and post Zach Horlacher (8.2 points, 6.8 rebounds), two of their six seniors.
“That’s the good thing about our team, is we’re not one-person dependent,” Bohne said.
Whatever their lineup looks like, Bohne said the Bulldogs are “pretty excited” to be in their first state tournament since 2005. They haven’t won a title since 1997.
“We don’t want to be satisfied with just getting there,” Bohne said. “We want to bring home the hardware.”
Sparks will play Yerington in the other 3A semifinal at 8 p.m. Friday at Damonte Ranch.
In the 3A girls semifinals at Damonte Ranch, Virgin Valley (11-14) will face Lowry (17-7) at 3 p.m. Friday, and Spring Creek (21-3) will meet Truckee at 6:20.
In the 2A boys semifinals at UNR, Lincoln County (24-4) plays Rite of Passage (18-6) at 12:40 p.m. Friday, and Incline (24-3) meets Needles (16-9) at 4.
In the 2A girls semifinals at UNR, Lincoln County (21-7) meets Battle Mountain (17-7) at 11 a.m. Friday, and Pershing County (26-2) plays Needles (26-1) at 2:20 p.m.
In the 1A boys semifinals at North Valleys High, Lake Mead (25-4) will play Smith Valley (20-6) at 4:40 p.m. Friday, and Mineral County (19-3) will meet Pahranagat Valley (19-11) at 8.
In the 1A girls semifinals at North Valleys High, Pahranagat Valley (20-9) faces McDermitt (21-6) at 3 p.m. Friday, and Virginia City plays Lake Mead (23-5) at 6:20.

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