ELKO – With the release of the 1A Northern-East girls basketball league awards, it comes as no surprise that back-to-back state champion Owyhee posted two players as 1st-Team selections.
Along with the success of individual players recognized at the league level, Wells head coach Enoch Dahl kept his string alive – winning at least a share of the Coach of the Year award for the fourth time in four seasons – sharing the honor with McDermitt head coach Jaimi Wilkinson for the past two years.
Fresh off of consecutive state titles, Owyhee sophomore Macee Cota and junior Kaylani Smartt head the 1st-Team All-League selections for the Lady Braves – joined by Eureka junior Cody Gibbs.
The league MVP was awarded to McDermitt sophomore Precious Masters, with Lady Bulldog senior teammate Krissy Long rounding out the 1st-Team selections.
Cota led the Lady Braves in scoring this season, pouring in 20.1 points per game in her sophomore campaign after contributing largely to a state championship as a freshman last year. She not only led Owyhee in scoring, her average was also the best in the league.
She also set up her teammates well, tying Smartt for the team high in assists, each dishing 2.2 per contest.
In Owyhee’s 65-37 victory in the 1A girls state final over Round Mountain on Saturday at Cox Pavilion, Cota scored 11 of her 13 points in the second half.
Playing in 20 games, Cota found or eclipsed the 20-point mark 11 times – dropping a season-high 29 in a 63-52 victory on Feb. 4 over McDermitt.
Smartt nearly averaged a double-double for the Lady Braves, finishing second on the roster with 14.8 points and 9.4 rebounds – both third-best in the league – and 3.1 steals per game.
In the state championship, Smartt scored a game-high 22 points.
She posted season highs of 29 points and an outrageous 17 rebounds in a non-conference game on Dec. 8 against Lone Pine (California), also setting her record for the season with six steals and tying her season high with four assists.
Her league-best 25 points came in double-double effort on Jan. 20 in Wells – grabbing 11 rebounds.
Smartt posted 10 double-doubles on the season.
Gibbs’ season ended in a heartbreaking double-overtime loss in the 1A state semifinal – falling to Round Mountain on Friday at Durango High School in Las Vegas – but what a way to go out.
She posted her season high of 30 points in the ballgame – reaching a double-double in rare fashion – the second double-digit effort coming from steals, making a video-game number of 17 thefts in the contest to go along with six assists and five rebounds.
Her other double-double came in an 18-point, 10-rebound effort against Beatty on Dec. 17, and her season high for assists of seven dimes came on Dec. 9 against Mineral County.
For the year, Gibbs led Eureka at 12.8 points per game.
Congratulations to Macee Cota, Kaylani Smartt and Cody Gibbs on their 1st-Team Al-League selections.
The selections for 2nd-Team honors in the 1A Northern-East were a who’s-who of local talent, featuring two players from Wells, a pair from Eureka and a Lady Brave.
In an injury shortened year that caused her to miss the end of the regular season and the regional tournament, Wells junior Samantha Stump led the Lady Leopards in scoring at 11.9 points per game – breaking a personal and program record along the way.
Despite missing the final four games, including Wells’ 39-27 loss in the 1A North regional quarterfinal to Sierra Lutheran, Stump connected on 38 3s – breaking her own program record of 29 that she nailed last season.
She added 2.6 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 2.1 steals per game.
In her final season for the Lady Leopards, senior Mallorie Limardo finished second on the team in scoring at 9.3 points per game – adding 6.6 rebounds and 2.3 steals.
Eureka sophomore Morgan Thomas provided remarkable play and a promising outlook for the next two years for the Lady Vandals.
She finished second on the team in scoring at 12.1 points per game, leading Eureka in assists and steals – providing 4.5 in each category – both tops for the 1A Northern-East.
Senior Katie Damele served as the third Lady Vandal who scored in double digits – averaging 10.2 points per contest – adding 3.5 assists and 2.4 steals.
Thomas led Eureka with 40 3s, but of Damele’s 32 makes from distance – no Lady Vandal shot the ball from beyond the arc with more consistency than her 34.4-percent clip.
Senior Kaira Egan was a monster in the middle for the Lady Braves, averaging a double-double for the season.
She finished third on the team in scoring at 12.5 points per game, but her team-best 10.7 rebounds (second in the league) per contest changed the complexion of games for the Lady Braves – often turning defensive rebounds into easy transition buckets for her teammates and offensive boards accounting for numerous second-chance points.
Egan notched her season high of 23 points twice, coming in a 69-68 loss on Jan. 28 in Eureka and a 75-54 loss to Rio Linda (California) on Dec. 28.
Here’s an absurd number – 24 rebounds – accompanying 15 points, three assists, three steals and three blocks in a 68-65 win on Jan. 20 in Wells.
While Egan’s 10.7 rebounds per game finished second in the league to Long’s 12.7, nobody blocked more shots than Egan – with 2.3 swats per game finishing a full block ahead of second (Long’s 1.3).
Two Lady Leopards received honorable mentions at the league level, earned by junior Keegan Laughlin and senior Holly Seech.
Laughlin became a presence for Wells in the paint, using her length and athleticism to score eight points and grab a team-high seven rebounds per game. She added three steals and blocked one shot per contest, shooting a remarkable 46 percent from the floor.
Seech scored 5.9 points per game, adding 3.4 rebounds and 1.7 steals in her final season for the Lady Leopards.
In her final season for the Lady Railroaders, Carlin senior Rebecca Pena scored the ball in double figures at 10.9 points per game and did work on the glass, collecting 7.9 rebounds per game – marking team highs in each category.
Pena also led Carlin with 4.3 steals per contest – second-best in the 1A Northern-East.
Eureka sophomore Angelika Townsend was a major factor in the Lady Vandals’ winning the 1A North regional tournament – also a large reason why Eureka did not advance in the state tournament, suffering a knee injury in the 1A state semifinal against Round Mountain.
Her all-around play of 6.3 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.3 steals were crucial components of the Lady Vandals’ success – but her on-ball defense is where she really shines.
A healthy Townsend, combined with a solid nucleus or returning underclassmen, places Eureka right back in the mix next season for another regional championship run and return to the state tournament.
The other player who received an honorable mention was Jackpot senior Asia Eboli, no stats reported for the Lady Jaguars.
The Lady Jaguars were also given the Team Sportsmanship award.
Congratulations to Macee Cota, Kaylani Smartt and Cody Gibbs for their 1st-Team All-League selections, Enoch Dahl for winning four-consecutive Coach of the Year awards and to all players of the Division 1A Northern-East who received recognition at the league level after an amazingly competitive season that cumulated in both teams from the North representing the league at the state tournament – resulting in Owyhee and coach Todd Tate bringing home the hardware for the second straight season.