ELKO – Earning a 1st-Team All-State selection is a big deal, doing it twice is a major accomplishment.
Accomplishing the feat twice in the same family in the same season is something of legendary status.
While the Elko boys basketball team’s miraculous season came to a heartbreaking crash in overtime on a buzzer three by league MVP Elijah Jackson in the state championship, the Indians had plenty to celebrate – especially the Klekas family.
Chris Klekas, head coach of the Elko boys program for the past 26 years, has nine sons – the lineage providing incredible basketball players since the eldest, Ryan, played on the varsity team as a freshman clear back in the 2000-2001 season – but this year was special.
Klekas was named the 3A North Coach of the Year once again and now approaches 450 career wins with Elko, the total standing at 445 Ws.
Not only did the Indians win their eighth straight regional title and advance to the state championship game, three Klekas brothers earned all-league recognition – two finishing with 1st-Team All-State selections.
Send one off, bring one in.
While senior Alex Klekas has played his final games in the maroon and white after a 1st-Team All-North and 1st-Team All-State year, the cupboard is not empty – Michael Klekas leaping onto the scene with 1st-Team All-League and 1st-Team All-State honors as just a freshman.
In his final season, wearing the famed No. 21 with the title Captain attached to his name, Alex Klekas led the Indians in every way imaginable – both with his play and his tenacity.
He ranked second in the league in scoring at 16.4 points per game – dropping a game and season-high 27 on Fernley on Dec. 14, 2018, at Centennial Gymnasium – posting 20-plus points in 11 contests, reaching double figures 21 times in 27 tries.
Showing why he’s one of the best two-way players in the state, he finished second in the league with 2.6 steals per contest and snagged a game-best six thefts on Feb. 5, in Spring Creek.
Not only did he score, Alex Klekas also passed – placing third in the 3A North with 3.4 assists per outing – dishing a season-high seven assists on Dec. 21, 2018, in the Indians 98-92 win over Fallon in double overtime.
He shot 50 percent from the floor – finishing fourth in the league in field goals and tying for eighth in percentage – dropping 81 percent of his free throws (fourth in the league) and placing sixth in makes on 63-for-78 from the stripe.
From distance, he was the sixth-deadliest shooter in the league – connecting on 37-of-97 3s for a 38-percent clip – which closed in sixth in makes and percentage.
On Feb. 9, he tickled the twine six times from deep against Truckee, in Elko, and he buried a season-best seven freebies without a miss in the Indians’ home win against Fernley.
Despite being vertically challenged among the trees in the lane at 6-foot-0, he showed that rebounding is not only about height – it’s will, want-to, heart – placing eighth in the 3A North with 6.8 boards per contest, 2.8 of which came by attacking the offensive glass.
On Jan. 18, at South Tahoe, the shooting guard was Herculean.
He ripped down a season-best 18 rebounds (10 offensive) to go along with 22 points for one of his three double-doubles prior to the state tournament.
His toughness, mental fortitude and ability were on full display in his final game.
As Elko struggled for three quarters against Fallon in the state championship, Alex Klekas battled through an Achilles injury and scored 21 of the Indians’ first 38 points, finishing the game with a team-high 23.
Waste no time to make in impact, young man.
Michael Klekas took the 3A North by storm in his freshman season, a potential double-double every time he stepped on the floor.
He tied for the league high with eight double-doubles – ranking third in the league in both scoring and rebounding – posting 15.5 points and 8.7 boards per game.
Showing killer instincts, he paced the Indians in their 98-92 win in double overtime against the Greenwave – booking a game-high 29 points – despite fouling out before either of the extra periods, dropping a ridiculous 12-for-16 from the floor with three 3s.
He hit or eclipsed the 20-point plateau on seven occasions, scoring in double digits an absurd 22 times in 27 games.
Of his 8.7 rebounds per contest, 3.4 came on the offensive end – collecting double-digit rebounds double-digit times – posting at least 10 boards in 10 ballgames.
In arguably his best all-around game of the season, he ripped down a season-high 14 rebounds on Jan. 18, in South Tahoe, pairing the attack of the glass with 24 points and two blocks.
We was remarkably efficient, ranking third in the league with 156 made field goals prior to the state tourney and tying for sixth at 51-percent shooting from the floor.
Possessing an inside-outside threat, he could score on the block and step beyond the arc and drain threes – finishing ninth in the 3A North with 30 triples and 10th in efficiency at 34 percent (30-for-87) – matching his season best with three 3s in four games.
Defensively, he also reached the top-10 and tied for ninth in the league with 1.9 steals per game – swiping five in the Indians’ season opener against Meridian on Nov. 29, 2018, at Centennial Gymnasium.
Two players are not enough to take a team to the Promised Land, and despite the 1st-Team All-State performances of Alex and Michael Klekas – the Indians had plenty of help.
Senior center Ronin Rowley and sophomore point guard Sean Klekas did their parts in not only contributing, but also packing Elko to its eighth straight league title and eighth-consecutive regional championship.
Rowley was also a double-double threat, finishing fourth in the league with six – ranking ninth in the 3A North at 11.7 points and fourth in rebounding with 7.7 boards per game.
He rattled off a season-high 20 points in the Indians’ season opener against Meridian, scoring in double digits 20 times in 27 contests.
Rowley reeled in double-digit rebounds eight times and snagged a season-high 12 on Jan. 10 against Eldorado, in Las Vegas.
Obviously posing a serious threat in the paint, Rowley served as a major combination of brute strength and finesse.
No player in the 3A North who played at least nine games and made at least 15 3s fired the deep ball at a more-efficient clip, Rowley leading the league at 46-percent from outside the arc on 19-for-41.
His second triple of the state championship came in the overtime period and gave Elko a 54-52 lead, but the Indians were unable to hold on – Fallon ultimately tying the game on a deuce by senior Trey Rooks and winning the state title on Jackson’s three at the buzzer.
With 16 blocks, Rowley tied for sixth in the 3A North.
For as long as basketball has been played, point guards have typically done a few things well – handle the ball, pass and shoot.
Sean Klekas fits the bill in every category.
Nobody in the league set up his teammates to score better than Sean Klekas, who led the 3A North with four assists per game, finishing sixth in the league in assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.69.
On Jan. 5, in Truckee, he dished a season-high 10 assists and scored 14 points for his lone double-double.
He can also fill it up from outside, finishing fourth in the league in made 3s and three-percentage percentage – knocking down 43 triples in 110 attempts for a 38-percent clip prior to the state tourney – finding fire toward the end of the season.
In the final five games, he hammered 20 3s – including a pair of six-dagger efforts from deep in back-to-back contests against South Tahoe in Elko’s regular-season finale and once again during the 3A North regional semifinal.
His three with no time on the clock forced overtime versus Fallon in the state championship, tying the score 49-49 and giving the Indians one of their most-memorable moments in years.
At the line, he placed sixth with a 76-percent clip on 57-75 shooting – his 57 makes ranking ninth in the league.
Defensively, he has a unique knack for knowing where and when to slide his feet and the will to wear contact to the chest – finishing second in the league with 14 charges drawn.
With 10.4 points per game, he tied for 13th in the league in scoring.
Toughness, he has it – playing in every game for the Indians – scoring in double digits in half of the Indians’ 28 contests.
After taking a stray elbow that later required seven stitches, he knocked down six free throws in a row in the fourth quarter on Dec. 21, 2018, against the Greenwave in the Indians’ 98-92 win in double OT.
His best-scoring efforts came against the Vikings, pouring in 24 points on Feb. 18, at Centennial Gymnasium, dropping 21 points on Feb. 22, at North Valleys High School.
One is his best all-around showings of the year came on Feb. 1, in Fallon, tallying 16 points, a season-high seven rebounds, six assists and four steals in Elko’s 69-52 win over the Greenwave.
Two local players earned honorable mentions for the 3A North awards, both coming from Spring Creek.
Junior point guard Kyle Owsley averaged 6.2 points, 2.6 rebounds, a team-high 1.9 assists (12th in the league) and one steal per game.
He scored in double figures five times, dropping a season-high 15 points on Feb. 15 against Dayton, in Spring Creek.
On Dec. 22, 2018, he dropped a season-best three 3s against Fallon, in Spring Creek.
He collected a season-high seven rebounds against Indio (California) on Dec. 28, 2018, dished a season-best five assists on Jan. 19, at South Tahoe, and he swiped a season-high five steals on Jan. 4, in Truckee.
Junior Devin Holmes was one of the Spartans’ perimeter defensive stoppers, but he also absorbed lots of contact in the paint – leading the 3A North with 30 charges drawn.
He drew four charges on two occasions, doing so on Dec. 22, 2018, against Fallon and once again on Dec. 1, 2018, versus Washougal (Washington).
For the season, Holmes averaged 2.2 points, 2.7 rebounds, 1.6 assists and a steal.
He scored a season-high eight points against Truckee on Feb. 8, in Spring Creek.
In the Spartans’ 71-55 loss against Elko on Feb. 5, in Spring Creek, he knocked down a season-high two 3s.
Congratulations to the Elko Indians on a fantastic season that came up a shot short, the Klekas family on its remarkable individual and collective successes and to all players recognized by the league after a thrilling season of Division 3A North basketball.