ELKO – The Elko boys basketball team wants to finish the regular season of the Division 3A North with one loss on its record.
The Indians stepped on the floor of Centennial Gymnasium on Tuesday with a 15-0 record but saw their 71-game home winning streak come a close, falling by 10 to the Spring Creek Spartans.
The Spartans were slated to lose their regular season Friday against Lowry in Spring Creek, the Indians playing their senior-day contest against the Buckaroos at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.
“Spring Creek played very well on Tuesday. Everyone’s always going to play their best game against us, but they really played well,” said Elko coach Chris Klekas.
The Spartans shot 62 percent from the floor against the usually-stingy Elko defense, Spring Creek knocking down its shots from the outside but finding numerous open looks right at the rim.
“The league is very tight right now. Everyone needs wins late in the season. The seeds can change a lot in or two games,” Klekas said.
Elko easily defeated Lowry in the first meeting of the season by a final score of 49-30 on Jan. 9 in Winnemucca, but the game was a tale of two halves.
The Indians opened the contest with a 15-0 run, opening a 28-9 lead at the break.
However, the Indians struggled to make shots and turned the ball over in the second half – a different Lowry team coming out of the locker room after the break.
The Buckaroos played Elko even in the second half, each team scoring 21 points – Elko notching 13 in the third and eight in the fourth, Lowry closing with seven and 14.
Senior Ryan Wickersham and junior Alex Klekas paced the Indians with 11 points apiece, junior Dorsey Naveran leading the Buckaroos with nine points.
While the Indians are guaranteed to play another game in Elko this season, already clinching the No. 1 seed for the regional tournament, which will take place in Elko – Saturday’s contest against the Buckaroos will serve as senior day for seven Indians.
Ryan Wickersham, Jose Zataray, Jeron Yopps, Angelo Antoniou, Stockton Salyer, Jerry Harris and Kevin Espinoza will lace up the sneakers for their final regular-season home game for the Indians.
The outcome of the Saturday’s game will have no bearing on seeding for the Indians, Elko guaranteed the No. 1 seed and a first-round bye – playing the 4-5 quarterfinal winner of the regional tournament in the semifinal round at 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 16 at Centennial Gymnasium.
Following a Dayton victory over Fernley on Friday night, the Buckaroos are playing for their postseason lives.
Klekas wants to see his team bounce back from a loss and start “playing our best basketball.”
The Indians and Buckaroos will tip off in the regular-season finale at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Centennial Gymnasium.