RENO — Lowry might have been the worst team for an undersized Virgin Valley boys basketball team to run into in the Class 3A state basketball semifinals.
The Buckaroos fielded plenty of size with 6-foot-6-inch forwards Joel Mendoza and Daniel Westfall, as well as 6-2 wide-bodied center William Thacker.
Those three made the Bulldogs (19-7) pay, combining for 41 points, including 26 in the second half, as Lowry rallied for a 79-74 victory at Damonte Ranch High School to move into today’s championship game.
The Buckaroos (15-11) will play Sparks (18-8) at 1:40 p.m. today at UNR’s Lawlor Events Center. Sparks beat Yerington 73-71 in overtime in the other semifinal.
“They knew our weakness, and our weakness is rebounding,” Virgin Valley coach Rich Bohne said. “We really struggled with that. They did what they needed to do, put it inside and got a lot of easy baskets on us.”
The Bulldogs led by seven at halftime and seemed to be in control until a 7-0 run gave Lowry a 49-47 lead with 2:28 left in the third quarter.
From there, the game went back-and-forth, with neither team able to pull away.
Thacker had a post bucket with 2:07 to play to give Lowry a 74-72 lead, and the Buckaroos had the advantage for the rest of the game.
“I didn’t know what defense to go to,” Bohne said. “They got easy baskets in our zone, in our press and in our man-to-man. If you’re going to give up easy baskets like that, it’s going to be tough to win a ballgame.”
Cameron Jensen scored a game-high 26 points to lead Virgin Valley, including 11 in the fourth quarter. He also had a team-high eight rebounds.
Beau Cloes scored 15, Austin Cloes 13 and Jason Wittwer 11.
“We did our job, offensively,” Bohne said. “That’s about as good as we can play offensively. But we’re usually a little better defensive team.
“The effort was out there; it was just a little bit of an execution problem.”
It’s difficult to win a basketball game if you’re not shooting well.
It’s more difficult if you aren’t getting shots.
Virgin Valley’s girls team found that out, as the Bulldogs (11-15) turned the ball over 29 times — 19 in the first half — on the way to a 60-36 loss to Lowry (18-7) in the Class 3A state semifinals at Damonte Ranch. Lowry will play Spring Creek (22-3) in the championship game at noon today at Lawlor Events Center. Spring Creek eliminated Truckee, 45-36.
“It was something that we worked against all week in practice because I knew they were pretty much going to be going full-court man-to-man,” Virgin Valley coach Chimane Creer said. “We made poor choices with our passes. And we made some bad choices with our screens.”
Virgin Valley had 25 turnovers in the first three quarters and managed only 25 shots from the field in the first 24 minutes, as Lowry led 48-16 entering the fourth quarter.
The Bulldogs looked better offensively in the fourth quarter, scoring 20 points and turning over the ball only three times against a Lowry squad of mostly reserves. The Buckaroos didn’t press in the final period.
To make matters worse for Virgin Valley, 6-foot-3-inch junior center Rachel Morris picked up her third foul with 4:05 left in the first half and went to the bench until the 6:42 mark of the third quarter.
Virgin Valley trailed 16-10 when Morris exited, but Lowry had extended the lead to 38-12 when she returned.
Morris finished with 16 points, 10 in the fourth quarter. She also had 11 rebounds and nine blocked shots.
Contact reporter Damon Seiters at
email@example.com or 702-380-4587.