ELKO – It was no wonder the Elko Indians and Spring Creek Spartans were well-represented on the 3A North and All-State basketball selections.
When the 3A North awards were announced, seven local players earned recognition – four Indians and three Spartans – the two squads representing the North in the state tournament, the Indians locking up their seventh-consecutive regional title.
Elko junior Alex Klekas, Spring Creek senior Jake Oliphant and Elko senior Jeron Yopps all played their ways to 1st-Team All-League positions, each earning selections to the 2nd-Team All-State unit.
For the Spartans, senior Levi Yaunick booked a 2nd-Team All-North honor, as did Elko senior Jose Zataray.
Two local point guards finished the year with honorable mentions for the league awards, Spring Creek senior Ryan Miner and Elko freshman Sean Klekas.
1st-Team All-North and 2nd-Team All-State
Alex Klekas was the best player on the best team in the 3A North, leading Elko with 13.4 points and 2.4 steals per game, scoring in double digits in 19 games.
He ranked second for the Indians with 71 assists – dishing 2.6 dimes per outing – finishing third on the roster with four rebounds per contest.
Klekas booked his season-high of 23 points on two occasions, the first instance coming during the Red Lion Tournament on Dec. 1, 2017, against Reno at Centennial Gymnasium.
His final 23-point outburst occurred on senior day, coming against Lowry in the regular-season finale on Feb. 10 at Centennial.
Klekas scored 19 points on Jan. 19 at home, hitting a season-best five 3s against Fernley.
He followed the performance up with a defensive gem, tying his season high for steals with six thefts on Jan. 20 against Fallon – matching the amount of takeaways he tallied on Dec. 16, 2017, in Dayton.
A strong rebounder for his size, he jerked down a season-best eight boards against Truckee on Jan. 6 in Elko – snagging seven rebounds in four other ballgames.
Despite serving as the Indians’ main offensive weapon, he also distributed the basketball – serving up five assists in six contests.
In the heartbreaking loss, Klekas came up big for Elko in its final game of the season – scoring a game-high 18 points Friday in the Indians’ 57-53 defeat to Cheyenne in the 3A state semifinal at Reno High School – finishing 5-for-10 from the floor and 7-for-8 from the free-throw line.
Oliphant manned the post for the Spartans during their run to the state tournament, which included a perfect 8-0 record in the second half of the league season and a 61-51 victory over Elko on Feb. 6 at Centennial – ending the Indians’ 71-game home winning streak.
He flirted with averaging a double-double, scoring 11.6 points (second on the team) and leading Spring Creek with 8.4 rebounds per game – reaching double digits in the scoring department 15 times.
Oliphant’s season high of 23 points came on Dec. 19, 2017, against Division-2A program West Wendover in Spring Creek, hitting the 20-point plateau once again in the Spartans’ victory over the Indians.
He grabbed a season-high 17 rebounds on Dec. 16, 2017, in South Tahoe – yanking down double-digit boards in seven of the 21 games he played in – posting a double-double in six contests.
The big man showed versatility and tied his season best with three steals against the Wolverines and once again on Jan. 19 in a 61-48 victory over Fallon in Spring Creek.
He stepped outside and knocked down two shots from distance twice, hitting a pair of threes against the Indians during the regular-season meeting in Elko and on Jan. 20 at home against Fernley.
Oliphant blocked one shot in six contests.
The senior center began the season gangbusters for the Indians, cooling off then finishing strong.
Yopps scored in double digits for Elko with 10.7 points per game, leading the team with seven rebounds per game.
He tore up the Greenwave for a career-high 26 points on Dec. 9, 2017, in Fallon – finishing a blistering 12-for-15 from the floor.
Yopps’ other 20-plus point effort came a week later, blasting the Dust Devils for 22 points on Dec. 16, 2017, in Dayton – shooting 9-for-10 and a perfect 4-for-4 on threes, matching his season best of four 3s on Dec. 15, 2017, against the Vikings in South Tahoe.
He scored in double figures in 15 ballgames.
In five contests, he collected double-digit boards – including a season-high 16 rebounds on Dec. 20, 2017, against Minico (Idaho).
Yopps blocked at least one shot in 16 contests, sending a season-best three swats to their senders during the Indians’ 57-46 victory on Jan. 2 in Spring Creek.
He made three steals in three ballgames.
In the final game of his career, Yopps returned to early-season form – closing with 16 points and 11 rebounds in a double-double effort in the Indians’ state semifinal loss to Cheyenne.
In his final season for Spartans, Levi Yaunick led the team with 11.9 points per game – topping the roster in threes by a wide margin.
Yaunick connected on 35 triples – hitting three shots from distance three times – leading the next-closest teammate by 26 3s.
He reached or surpassed the 20-point mark in three contests, tallying his career high of 24 points right out of the gate on Nov. 29, 2017, on the road against Moapa Valley.
In a 74-67 defeat on Dec. 9, 2017, in Fernley, Yaunick poured in 22 points – adding a 20-point effort on Nov. 30, 2017, against The Meadows during the Lake Mead Holiday Classic.
In 20 of the 26 games he played in, Yaunick scored in double digits.
He ranked third on Spring Creek’s roster with 3.6 rebounds per game, grabbing a season-high eight boards against Moapa Valley.
Defensively, he made one steal per game – notching three takeaways in four contests.
During his final season in maroon and white, Jose Zataray averaged nine points and 5.7 rebounds for the Indians.
Zataray scored his season best of 16 points in three games, the first time occurring on Dec. 1, 2017, against Meridian during the Red Lion Classic.
He scored 16 points on Jan. 26 against South Tahoe at Centennial Gymnasium, reaching the total again on Feb. 6 against the Spartans in Elko.
He scored in double digits in 13 ballgames, finishing the season with two double-doubles – grabbing a season-high 13 rebounds on Jan. 20 at home against Fallon.
Zataray made three or more steals six times, finishing with three-plus takeaways in the final three games of the season – closing the year with a season-best six thefts in Elko’s state semifinal loss to Cheyenne.
He tied the game with a free throw with 5:13 remaining and gave the Indians the lead with a steal for a layup with 4:56 on the clock before the Desert Shields closed the game with a 12-6 run.
Spring Creek’s Ryan Miner and Elko’s Sean Klekas each earned honorable mentions for the 3A North awards.
Miner led the Spartans in steals and assists, finishing third on the roster in scoring.
He averaged 9.1 points, 1.9 steals and 1.7 assists in the final season of his career.
The point guard also finished fourth for the Spartans in rebounds, averaging 3.1 boards.
He scored a season-high 19 points on Jan. 27 against the Vikings in Spring Creek, finishing in double figures in 10 contests.
Miner pulled down his season high of eight rebounds on Dec. 29, 2017, against Lehi (Utah), and dished five assists on two occasions – coming in the season opener on Nov. 29, 2017, against Moapa Valley and again on Jan. 20 against Fernley in Spring Creek.
He also tallied five steals in two contests, the first occurrence on Dec. 15, 2017, in Dayton and the second time on Feb. 2 at Truckee.
Sean Klekas stepped into the point-guard role for the Indians and played well during his freshman season.
He averaged 8.3 points per game and led the Indians in several categories, dishing 2.8 assists and draining 40 3s.
Klekas also served as a defensive specialist for Elko, finishing second on the team with 48 steals (1.8 per game) – leading the Indians with 18 charges drawn.
He scored in double digits 10 times, booking his season best of 17 points twice in back-to-back games.
The first 17-point performance included his season high of five 3s on Jan. 27 against Dayton, following with a three-triple and 17-point effort on Feb. 2 at Sparks.
He dished eight assists on Jan. 20 against Fallon, serving six assists in three ballgames.
He pulled down six rebounds on Dec. 1, 2017, in the Red Lion Classic against Meridian, and Klekas collected four steals in four ballgames.
Congratulations to Alex Klekas, Jake Oliphant and Jeron Yopps on their 1st-Team All-League and 2nd-Team All-State selections – job well-done by the Indians on nailing down their seventh straight regional championship and the Spartans for qualifying for the state tournament – and kudos to all players who earned league recognition during a competitive 3A North basketball season.