ELKO – Well, the game had to wait a few days.
The Elko girls basketball team made its Friday ballgame with South Tahoe – delayed due to weather – and the Lady Indians came up clutch with postseason-clinching victory of 72-50 over the Lady Vikings on senior night at Centennial Gymnasium.
The game’s first bucket was a long two off the hand of senior Alexis Elquist, earning an assist from junior Katie Ross.
The Lady Vikings tied the ballgame with a mainline drive by senior Teagan Williamson, Elko grabbing a 5-4 lead on a three from the left wing by junior Izzy Eklund.
Senior Kaitlyn Janese scored in the middle for South Tahoe, but Elko freshman Jersey Tsosie grabbed an offensive rebound and was fouled – hitting both free throws.
Eklund scored a layup in transition, and the Lady Indians wreaked havoc with their press – Tsosie making a steal and finishing with a Euro step on the left side – opening an 11-4 lead.
South Tahoe cut the deficit to four with an And-1 plus the free throw by sophomore Eva Perry.
Eklund buried her second three of the contest on a dish from Elquist, and Tsosie knocked down a jumper from the short corner on a pass from freshman Millie Marin.
Marin then earned a feed on a cut from Elquist, making a nifty move and an underhanded flip with her left hand.
Elquist pitched a post-entry pass to sophomore Olivia Morrell, who gave the ball right back, Elquist’s midrange jumper opening a 20-7 cushion.
Elko was quicker to the ball, moving away from it and passing effectively – playing like their postseason lives depended on it – actively tipping passes and hitting the deck.
To close the frame, Elko left too much space for senior Hailey Naccarato – who drilled a three from the left wing.
After one, the Lady Indians built a double-up lead of 20-10.
Tsosie trailed the break to start the second quarter and dropped a follow-up bucket on the left block, but Naccarato grabbed her own miss for a put-back on the other end.
Continuing to work the glass, Tsosie cleaned up a miss and reached double digits with a finish in the middle.
Naccarato continued to do her best to pack the Lady Vikings with her second three – answered with a wide-open triple by Elquist on a pass from Tsosie – and Naccarato fired up a heat check, still hot with her third triple.
Tsosie took a ball away from a South Tahoe players following a defensive rebound and cashed her 12th point of the half, but South Tahoe pulled to within 10 on three free throws – two by Williamson and one from Naccarato – following a jumper from the wing by Morrell, who added a freebie of her own.
With 2:14 on the clock, Elko took a timeout with a 32-21 lead.
Williamson ran the floor and scored after a South Tahoe rebound, and the teams traded turnovers on a travel and an over-and-back.
Both teams missed chances to score at the stripe, sophomore Kayleen Conard finally making 1-for-2 for South Tahoe.
Marin slithered her way through traffic and chucked up a bank shot with the some English, and the Lady Vikings committed a silly foul underneath their own basket – bailed out by consecutive Elko misses.
The Lady Indians returned the favor with a double-bonus foul at midcourt – unscathed after two South Tahoe misfires.
Atrocious free-throw shooting continued with another empty trip for Elko, Elquist finally bucking the trend with a clean trip to the stripe with five seconds on the clock.
At the break, Elko led by 12 at 36-24.
The Lady Vikings trimmed the margin to nine with an And-1 plus the free throw for Naccarato, but the Lady Indians went back up 14 with a long two and a three by Elquist – giving her 14 points for the contest.
Elko’s lead grew to 16 with a pair of free throws by Tsosie, her 13th and 14th points of the game.
Elquist scored inside on the left block, and Eklund made a steal and dashed to the cup – giving her double digits – the Lady Indians going up 20 at 47-27.
Tsosie worked free in the middle for a 49-27 lead, but Williamson nailed a jumper from the right side for South Tahoe.
Elquist rattled home another long deuce from the left wing, freshman Addison Castles making 1-for-2 at the line on the other end.
Conard netted a three from the wing, answered by two free throws from Elko junior Marrisa Valdez.
The period closed with another dead-eye triple from Naccarato.
After three, Elko was eight minutes away from a spot in the playoffs – leading 53-36.
Defense was optional in the fourth quarter.
Eklund opened the frame with a layup on the break, answered on the other side by Williamson.
Tsosie hit a free throw, South Tahoe followed with a deuce – Tsosie and Williamson trading buckets once more.
Morrell gashed the Lady Vikings in transition, but South Tahoe followed with a three by Conard – Morrell once again beating the Lady Vikings to middle – Conard heating up with another three from the left side.
Ross scored her first bucket of the game down the heart of the floor, and South Tahoe hit two freebies – Conard and Naccarato sinking one apiece – Elquist burying two at the stripe for the Lady Indians.
Senior Nevada Wachob found the scoreboard in the final home game of her career with a long two from straightaway, and Elquist officially closed the Lady Vikings’ playoff hopes with a pair of free throws.
Elko improved to 8-10 in league play – clinching the final berth to the 3A North regional tournament – eliminating South Tahoe by a final score of 72-50.
Elquist scored a game-high 22 points (13 after the break) and hit two 3s for the Lady Indians in her last home game, joined in double digits by 19 points from Tsosie – 12 coming in the first half – Eklund serving as the third double-figure scorer for Elko with 12 points, also netting two triples.
Naccarato led South Tahoe with 19 points and blasted four 3s, Williamson reaching double digits with 12 points and Conard giving the Lady Vikings three players in double figures with 11 points – nine coming on three 3s – the trio combing to score 42 of South Tahoe’s 50 points.
Morrell finished with eight points for the Lady Indians, Marin and Ross added four apiece and the offense was closed with two points apiece for Valdez and Wachob.
South Tahoe will wrap up its year with a 3 p.m. Tuesday tip against the Lady Spartans, in Spring Creek.
The No. 6 Lady Indians (8-10 in league) will open the Division 3A North regional tournament and face No. 3 Lowry (14-4 in league) at 3 p.m. Thursday, at North Valleys High School, in Reno.