RENO – Well, Elko County was not completely shut out at the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association State Basketball Championships – thanks to the Lady Braves of Owyhee – taking down arch-rival McDermitt in the Division IV final Saturday at Lawlor Events Center, 61-54.
Entering the contest, all four state finals that had already been played yielded a champion from the South. In fact, the Owyhee and McDermitt matchup provided the only all-North state final of the entire tournament.
Something had to give – with No. 1 McDermitt facing No. 2 Owyhee – but the North was guaranteed a state championship.
Owyhee junior Kaira Egan scored the first points of the game after a two-minute drought with a put back, but McDermitt junior Krissy Long answered on an inbound pass.
Egan made another offensive rebound and finished for the Lady Braves, but Lady Bulldog senior Andrea Smart tied the game with two free throws.
Owyhee took a 6-4 lead after a strong drive by freshman Macee McKinney, but the score was knotted once again by McDermitt senior Va Draunidalo on an assist from Smart.
Senior Lydia Northrup splashed a long two, giving the Lady Bulldogs an 8-6 lead, but the scored evened once more after a baseline jumper by Owyhee sophomore Kaylani Smartt.
Draunidalo made a steal and went in for a layup, but the fifth tie followed – coming from Owyhee junior Dayani Manning on a cut down the middle with 25 seconds remaining in the quarter.
Draunidalo provided the sixth lead change of the opening frame, burying a three from the corner to close the first period.
The Lady Bulldogs led 13-10, but the battle was just beginning.
Owyhee scored to pull within 13-12 to start the second period, but Long gave the Lady Bulldogs a 14-12 lead from the line.
Manning regained the lead for the Lady Braves with a three at the six-minute mark – starting an Owyhee run – literally.
The Lady Braves began to get up and down the floor, pushing the basketball and getting out on the break.
Smartt scored on an offensive rebound, followed by another put back by Egan. Manning finished a deuce – capping a 9-0 Owyhee streak – as the Lady Braves were beating the Lady Bulldogs down the floor with ease, taking a 21-14 lead.
Draunidalo drilled a jumper from the wing to stop the bleeding, but Smartt scored on an assist by Manning. Draunidalo kept McDermitt within five with another bucket, proving to be the only player who could match Owyhee in transition.
McKinney gave the Lady Braves a 25-18 lead with a jumper with 2:30 remaining in the half. McDermitt senior Deandra Dave knocked down a free throw, but sophomore Sky Pete gave the Lady Braves a 27-19 lead.
Long scored on the right block after a post-entry pass from Draunidalo, but freshman Cree Lynn Raining Bird completed an “And 1” for the Lady Braves.
Draunidalo completed a one-person break to pull McDermitt to within seven to close the half with a nasty Euro step.
Owyhee held a 30-23 lead at the break.
McDermitt started the third with a 5-0 run, beginning with a three by Smart on a pass from Draunidalo and ending with a deuce by Long after a hectic scramble, cutting the Owyhee lead to 30-28.
McKinney made a 4-0 spurt for the Lady Braves, scoring consecutive buckets and extending the lead to six points.
Manning pushed the lead to eight, finishing on an offensive rebound, but Draunidalo scored to keep McDermitt within reach.
After a free throw by Owyhee sophomore Tracey Kelly, Draunidalo put her team on her back once again with a offensive put back.
Smartt gave the Lady Braves a 39-32 lead with a runner at the 1:30 mark, and the game changed dramatically.
Draunidalo made a free throw to cut lead to six, and the Lady Bulldogs went into an aggressive full-court press – which the Lady Braves did not handle well.
McDermitt forced multiple turnovers, and freshman Precious Masters finished with the foul after a steal – but the free throw was missed. Northrup followed with a finish on a long outlet pass, and Long scored inside after another turnover by the Lady Braves with 10 seconds remaining in the period.
Owyhee had gone away for from its strength – running the floor – and McDermitt used an effective piece of tactic, pressing the issue on defense.
The Lady Braves’ lead was erased, and the game went to the fourth quarter tied 39-39 – eight minutes remaining to decide which Division IV Northern-East program would hoist the state trophy over its collective head.
McDermitt took the lead on a runner by Northrup, but Smartt made a free throw. Masters grabbed an offensive rebound and finished for the Lady Bulldogs, but Raining Bird scored along the baseline on a dish from Smartt to cut the McDermitt lead to one.
Masters gave the Lady Bulldogs a 45-42 lead with a bucket, but Owyhee freshman Skylisha Nino tied the game with a three with 5:15 remaining.
Egan gave the Lady Braves a 47-45 lead on an offensive board, but Masters knotted the score with 4:30 remaining.
Manning netted a high-post jumper and drew a foul, missing the free throw. Northrup knocked down a jumper to deadlock the game at 49-all with four minutes on the clock.
Smartt scored on an assist by Raining Bird with 3:10 remaining, but Draunidalo made a free throw to pull McDermitt to within one.
Pete scored for the Lady Braves, giving Owyhee a 53-50 lead with 1:30 remaining, but Long made the front end of a one-and-one from the line just 12 seconds later.
Finally, Owyhee exploited its strength again – turning the game into an up-tempo affair.
Manning scored in transition after a look ahead by McKinney, who knocked down two free throws to make the score 57-51. After a McDermitt turnover, McKinney went to the line once again after a hard foul while driving to the basket.
The freshman got up after hammering into the stanchion, sinking both free throws once again in clutch time.
Draunidalo pulled McDermitt to within five at 59-54 with a three, but the Owyhee put its foot on the gas pedal after a McDermitt turnover – resulting in a wide-open layup by Egan with 12 seconds remaining to seal the deal.
The Lady Braves captured the Division IV girls basketball state championship after a back-and-forth battle against the Lady Bulldogs, winning 61-54.
Owyhee had four players finish in double figures, led by 13 points from Manning. McKinney finished with 12 points, and Smartt added 11 points. Egan closed the game with 10 points.
Draunidalo finished with a game-high 22 points for the Lady Bulldogs, knocking down two 3s. She was joined in double digits by Long with 10 points. Northrup and Masters scored eight points for McDermitt.
Owyhee – 10 – 20 – 9 – 22 – 61 Total
McDermitt – 13 – 10 – 16 – 15 – 54 Total
“The difference to the game was running the floor. McDermitt is a big team, and you have to take them out of their element. When we stopped pushing the basketball was when they made their runs,” said Owyhee head coach Todd Tate. “We are a very young team, so I am very happy with the way the girls kept their poise after they lost the lead. They could have gone in the tank right then, but they never quit fighting.”
Congratulations to coach Tate, the entire staff and all the Lady Braves on their NIAA Division IV girls basketball state championship – and with virtually the entire, young nucleus returning next season – Owyhee should have a major say in the championship race next season.