ELKO – Approaching the final road games of the season – closing with two at home – the Elko girls basketball team needs wins and help.
The Lady Indians improved to 7-5 in league play over the weekend with victories over South Tahoe and Dayton, finding themselves in fifth place in the league standings and one game behind fourth-place Fernley (8-4).
The only kicker is that fourth and fifth will both play each other in the opening round of the Division 3A North regional tournament, each locked into the same side of the bracket as No. 1 and unbeaten Fallon (12-0) – nobody chomping at the bit to get a piece of the defending state champs.
Elko will play at 6 p.m. Friday in Sparks (3-9), closing its road slate with a 1 p.m. tip Saturday against the No. 6 Lady Wolverines (5-7) in Truckee.
Despite a blowout victory of 68-26 in the first matchup against the Lady Railroaders on Jan. 5, Elko head coach Kaaren Ross said there was much to be desired from the Lady Indians.
Elko shot just 33 percent from the floor, most attempts coming from point-blank range.
The Lady Indians’ saving grace was the dominance on the backboards, snagging 50 rebounds – enabling 84 shots.
Senior Sariah Pulley was one of just three players who shot better than 50 percent in the game – her eye, line and distance razor sharp from beyond the arc.
Pulley scored a game-high 22 points, banging in five 3s in nine tries.
Elko gained 10 points from junior Brenna Hendrix off the bench, junior Alexis Elquist and senior Lexi Baum each adding nine.
Senior Lauryn Drake sparked the rebounding, collecting a team-high 13 boards.
Hendrix’s 10 rebounds gave her a double-double.
Elko committed just nine turnovers in the contest, nearing its season-low.
The Lady Indians will look for a season sweep at 6 p.m. Friday in Sparks.
The Lady Indians had little trouble with the Lady Wolverines in the first meeting on Jan. 6 at Centennial Gymnasium, rolling to a 56-20 victory in one of Elko’s best performances of the year.
Elko opened up the offense in the first period, mounting 23 points and limiting the Lady Wolverines to six.
In the second quarter, Truckee was limited to six once again – Elko hanging up another 15 points.
At the break, the Lady Indians led by a wide margin of 38-12.
Elko scored 16 points in the third quarter and turned the game into a running clock, cruising to a 56-20 W.
Drake paced the Elko attack with 16 points, shooting 8-for-12 from the floor.
Pulley scored 13 point and drained three 3s, Baum serving as the third player in double digits with 12 points.
Truckee freshman Emma Cooley and junior Tatum Hogarth topped the roster with six points each for the Lady Wolverines.
Elko closed the contest with just 10 turnovers, committing only eight Saturday against Dayton – ball security serving as the telling indicator for the Lady Indians all season.
When Elko turns over the ball in the backcourt and against half-court pressure, the Lady Indians have lost.
In wins, the Lady Indians have taken care of the basketball.
“We went over our offense a lot this week, trying to see the entire floor and recognize all our options. We haven’t always done a good job of that this season,” Ross said. “Truckee is a tough place to play. They are always better there and always have been; even before they built they built the new gym.”
The Lady Indians can potentially improve to four games better than .500 in league play for the first time, taking on the Lady Wolverines at 1 p.m. Saturday in Truckee.
“We just want to try to win out and see where the chips fall,” Ross said. “All we can do is prepare to the best our ability and see what happens.”
Elko will close the regular season with consecutive home games, hosting Spring Creek at 6 p.m. Tuesday and closing with a senior-day matchup against Lowry at 1 p.m. Feb. 10 at Centennial Gymnasium – the final two contests coming against the current No. 2 and No. 3 teams in the league.