WEST WENDOVER – After advancing to the 2A state tournament in the 2016-2017 season, the West Wendover boys basketball team will have to take a different approach in the 2017-2018 season.
The Wolverines finished with a 19-9 record last season, going 11-3 in the 2A North.
West Wendover advanced to the 2A North championship game, falling 75-68 to Pershing County after holding the lead but making mistakes and missing free throws down the stretch.
In the state tournament, the Wolverines came from behind and held another lead late but fell in overtime to the Adelson Lions by a final score of 57-56 in the semifinal.
West Wendover graduated do-it-all post man Zade Elton, who led the Wolverines with averages of 17.6 points and 7.6 rebounds.
Gone with him is size, the 2017-2018 Wolverines stepping on the floor considerably smaller.
“We aren’t very big. We’re pretty small, but we have some very fast players,” said West Wendover head coach John Sharp.
Also departed is point guard Bryan Flores, who scored 13 points per game.
He led the Wolverines with 3.2 assists per contest, adding 2.3 steals.
Returning for West Wendover is senior guard Saul Palacios, who scored 13.8 points per game during his junior campaign.
Palacios scored his season high of 29 points in two ballgames last season, the second occurrence coming in the 2A North regional final against Pershing County on Feb. 18 in Winnemucca.
He also led the Wolverines with 2.8 steals per game.
“Saul will be our go-to, main man this year,” Sharp said.
Sharp said he is looking for leadership roles from senior forwards Eduardo Gonzalez and Eric Cerna.
Each player averaged three points and four rebounds as juniors.
Palacios will be joined in the backcourt by junior guards Armondo Gonzalez and Eric Correa, each averaging two points per game as sophomores.
“We lost the inside game, but I have a lot of shooters. We don’t have a lot of them generally,” Sharp said. “In our scrimmage, they couldn’t miss. I hope that becomes the trend.”
In the early portion of the season, Sharp is hoping the Wolverines “value the ball.”
“We’re fast but we can’t get out of control. Don’t get me wrong, I love running the floor and getting easy buckets in transition, but we can’t turn the ball over,” he said. “We have to get better at rebounding if we want to compete.”
Sharp hopes West Wendover can play its way into “the 2-3-4 seed,” adding that he expects Battle Mountain to be the top seed in the 2A North.
“They never lost anyone. Battle Mountain will be very good. Pershing County is always tough, they’re a defensive team,” he said. “Incline always seems to get transfers and they always have a stud.”
The Wolverines were slated to open the season at 7 p.m. MST Wednesday against American Prep in West Valley, Utah.
West Wendover will wrap up the first week of the preseason Thursday through Saturday in the Holiday Classic at Lake Mead Christian Academy in Henderson.