ELKO – Despite an 0-3 record in the Division 3A North, Elko’s boys basketball team will not look past North Valleys.
After a two-week break from action, the Indians (6-1 overall, 4-0 in 3A North) will put their perfect league mark on the line at 7:30 p.m. Friday against the Panthers, in Reno.
“They are improving. They made the semifinal in their last tournament,” said Elko coach Chris Klekas. “North Valleys has some athletes.”
The Panthers opened league play with three-straight losses, falling to Fernley (61-44), Lowry (66-43) and Fallon by a score of 96-69.
The Greenwave defeated the Panthers once again on Dec. 28 in the semifinal of the Sparks Rail City Classic, 73-51.
North Valleys is led by 6-foot-3 senior Clay Perry, who scores 18 points and pulls down seven rebounds per game.
In the middle, 6-foot-4 Kyle Claiborne made the transition from the gridiron to the hardwood.
Claiborne – the quarterback turned center – has flirted with double-double averages of 10.4 points and a team-best 8.4 rebounds.
He also swats a team-high 1.3 shots per game.
Senior Bradley Cappini drops 7.8 points per contest, followed by 5.3 each from junior Marcus James and senior JP Santiago.
James lead North Valleys in the takeaway department, making 1.3 steals per outing.
A wide receiver for the Panthers in the fall, senior Julien Weaver has moved on from catching passes to making them – dishing a team-high 2.6 assists per game while scoring 4.6 points and grabbing three boards.
As for the Indians, coach Klekas said his team is healthy entering the matchup following its longest break of the season.
“Michael’s (Klekas) finger is getting better, and Sean’s (Klekas) eye is feeling better,” he said.
Michael Klekas dislocated the pinky finger on his non-shooting hand on Dec. 14 against Fernley, but the freshman came back and dropped a game-high 29 points on Dec. 21 in the Indians’ 98-92, double-overtime win over Fallon – the loss serving as the Greenwave’s only defeat of the season (12-1 overall, 4-1 in league) – the game also serving as a gutsy performance from Sean Klekas.
In the same contest, he was whacked on eyebrow while gathering a defensive rebound, fighting through the pain and the blood for the remainder of the contest, finishing with 16 points and hitting 7-of-9 free throws, nailing 6-for-6 in the fourth quarter.
Elko’s leading scorer, senior Alex Klekas, scores 17.4 points per game – dropping a team-high 23 points against Fallon – grabbing 6.7 rebounds, dishing 3.6 assists and making 1.9 steals.
He serves as one of three Elko players who average double digits, Michael Klekas pouring in 16.5 points per outing while tying for the team high with 8.7 rebounds, adding 1.8 assists and 1.8 steals.
Senior center Ronin Rowley – who cashed the essential dagger against the Greenwave with an And-1 from a dish by Alex Klekas in the second OT – is tied with Michael Klekas for the team best at 8.7 boards per game, scoring 15.1 points.
Sean Klekas is close to giving the Indians their fourth double-digit scorer, averaging 9.7 points while dishing a team-high 4.6 assists.
“We’ll see how we come out. Hopefully, we won’t be rusty. We haven’t played a game in two weeks,” said coach Klekas.
The Indians will look for a 5-0 start in league play, taking on North Valleys at 7:30 p.m. Friday, in Reno, Elko closing its road trip with a 2:30 p.m. Saturday tipoff against the Wolverines (5-2 overall, 0-2 in league) in Truckee, California.