Galena in familiar ‘David’ position
By Charles Whisnand
Tribune News Service
This could be an historic year for the Carson Country area when it comes to the NIAA State Basketball Championships in Las Vegas.
The Dayton Nation has a chance to face the Purple and White Express in an all Lyon County final for the 3A state title. Virginia City, one of the state’s most storied programs, has a chance to win its first state title in 19 years at the 1A level.
And Galena has a chance to pull off arguably one of the greatest upsets in state history against a team many are already saying rates among the best in Nevada’s history. Here’s a breakdown of the Carson Country area’s matchups:
GALENA VS. BISHOP GORMAN
8 p.m. today, Orleans
“I know they’re the best team in Nevada,” said Galena coach Tom Maurer about Gorman, which hasn’t lost to a Nevada team this season.
Gorman has three Division I players – 6-4 guard Kashis Watson, who is heading to San Diego State; junior Marcus Lawrence, who’s already being recruited by Oregon State; and 6-7 C.J. Portz, who’s being recruited by Navy.
Watson and Lawrence share time at the point guard, although in reality the three players give Gorman tough matchups at point guard, small forward and center.
“That’s great chemistry to win a state championship,” Maurer said. “That’s what they’ve got. They’re not only athletic, but they’re very physical.”
The tough schedule his team has played should help, Maurer said. But in scouting Gorman, Maurer joked that other coaches told him the only contest that could help him is a “game against Villanova.”
Maurer has never beaten Gorman, with losses coming in the 1997 state finals and the 2001 state semifinals. If Maurer’s team were to pull off the upset, it would rival when Carson won the state title in 1975.
Maurer expects Watson to guard his leading scorer, Derek Lorenzen. He will ask point guard Chad Seidenstricker to guard Watson.
“He’s going to have to be in great shape,” said Maurer about Seidenstricker. “He not only will have to guard their best player, he’s going to have to hand the ball.”
Lorenzen will also likely have to be among those who will have to help Seidenstricker handle the ball against Gorman’s full-court pressure, Maurer said. Another key will be how 6-7 freshman Luke Babbitt matches up with Portz, Maurer said.
The winner will play the winner between Valley and Palo Verde at 8 p.m. Friday for the state title.
DAYTON VS. VIRGIN VALLEY
12:40 p.m. Friday, Orleans
There could be a large contingent of fans for Saturday’s 5 p.m. 3A state title game if the Dayton Nation and the Purple and White Express from Yerington were to advance and play for the crown.
“That would be great for our county and school district,” Dayton coach Rob Streeter said. “That would be fun.”
Streeter said he believes Yerington stacks up well against Faith Lutheran in the other semifinal. “Yerington matches up extremely well,” Streeter said.
But Streeter knows his team can’t look past Virgin Valley. “We know they’re real athletic,” he said. “They’ve got a few good shooters. They’re extremely athletic and quick.”
This is Dayton’s third straight trip to the state tournament. At the first practice after making state the last two years, Streeter said he had “starry-eyed kids.” But not at Monday’s practice. “It was a different sense in the locker room,” he said.
The future also looks bright for Dayton as it has only three seniors – forward Trent Wood, the team’s leading scorer and rebounder, post player Danny Hopper, who has been to state all three times, and Daniel Schierholt.
Dayton has two sets of brothers – Danny and Erik Hopper and Trent and Travis Wood. Erik is a point guard and Travis is a shooting guard. There’s also Shane Castro, who can play point guard as well. Castro injured his ankle late in Saturday’s game against Yerington in which the Dust Devils beat the Lions for the Northern 3A crown, but he’ll be ready to go on Friday. Among other key players for Dayton are Josh Aaker and Josh Wagoner.
YERINGTON VS. FAITH LUTHERAN
4 p.m. Friday, Orleans
“I’d love to see Dayton in the championship game,” Yerington coach Daron Wildermuth said. “I think they have a good chance of beating Virgin Valley.”
But Wildermuth knows Faith Lutheran, the South’s No. 1 seed, will be a tough matchup. He also knows how tough it has been to return to state. His teams made the state tournament at Yerington during his first two years at the school in 1994 and 1995, but haven’t returned until this year.
Wildermuth could have been fooled into thinking it’s not that difficult to make it to state, but he said, “I knew better than to think that.”
About Faith Lutheran, Wildermuth said, “They play like we do. They’re kind of guard heavy. They have a big guy inside. They’re similar to us.”
Yerington has an eight-man rotation led by leading scorer Dylan Johnson and point guard Ryan Rife. There’s also Jeremy Means, Mikey Burt, David Hitchcock, Scott Veil, Kyle Johnson and Darren Matheus.
VIRGINIA CITY VS. TRINITY
4:40 p.m. Friday, Del Sol High
This could be the year that Virginia City breaks through for its first state title since 1986 in its third straight trip to the state tournament. Hector Bucchianeri, who played for Virginia City’s 1984 state title team, has taken the Muckers to the state tournament in both his years as coach the last two season.
Bucchianeri also has six seniors who he has coached all four years at Virginia City – Mich McDowell, Kevin Lynch, Chad Sprong, Zack Dotson, Cory Dacha and Miles Lugo. Rounding out Virginia City’s nine-man roster are Nate Adakai, Sam Turman and Andy Wilson.
Virginia City won the Northern 1A title by beating Pyramid Lake 61-42 last Saturday. But Bucchianeri noted that Pyramid Lake was coming off an emotional 49-42 overtime win over Carlin.
Still, the Muckers look impressive going into state. “They’re starting to come together,” Bucchianeri said. “Hopefully we’re playing our best ball now, peaking at the right time.”
Virginia City shouldn’t be in awe, either, as it defeated Alamo, the Southern 1A’s regular season champion, by five points and lost to Yerington by just one point early in the year at the Hawthorne Tournament. “I don’t think we’re jumping in over our head,” Bucchianeri said.
But Bucchianeri noted No. 1-seeded Alamo didn’t even make it through the Southern 1A playoffs. “There seems to be a lot of talent down there,” Bucchianeri said.
In the other semifinal, Pyramid Lake will face Lake Mead. Bucchianeri said all four teams have an equal shot at winning the title. Semifinal winners will meet at 8:20 p.m. Saturday for the title at Orleans Arena.
Virginia City will face a team in Trinity with a front line that goes 6-3, 6-4, 6-5. The Muckers tallest player is 6-1 point guard Kevin Lynch.
Yes, Lynch is the younger brother of current Nevada player and former Virginia City star Curry Lynch. But if Virginia City wins the state title, Bucchianeri said people should start referring to Curry as “there’s Kevin’s big brother.”
Bucchianeri said Turman is the most improved player on the team and that the 6-0 Sprong, who can dunk, “gives people fits.” Sprong averaged 21.5 points in the Northern 1A playoffs. “He’s real smooth around the hoop,” Bucchianeri said.
During a game earlier this year, Bucchianeri said that Sprong so frustrated a bigger player that the opposing coach yelled out to the player, “Come on, he’s six foot tall and skinny.”
Sprong had never played basketball when he came out for the team as a freshman and Virginia City is certainly glad now that he decided to play the sport.
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