By Eric Dahlberg, MCIN Staff
It’s win or go home time for the Mineral County High boys and girls basketball teams.
With the regular season now in the rearview mirror, both Serpent squads will fight for a spot in state when they take the floor in the single-elimination NIAA Division IV Northern region tournament in Reno this week.
It’s real simple for Mineral County; win the first two games and they’ll return to Reno next week to play on Nevada high school basketball’s biggest stage. But lose one before Saturday’s regional title game, and the season is over.
For the Lady Serpents, this week is a chance at redemption. Last year’s 22 win, number one seed team was a virtual lock to reach the state tournament in Las Vegas before they stumbled in the regional semis to eventual state champion Eureka.
This is a new year though and a new team.
The girls took a far different path to the playoffs this year, overcoming a slow start before coming into their own. The Lady Serpents finished the regular season just three games over .500 overall, but won the most important games when it counted and clinched a playoff berth two weeks ago. The girls won their last five, including a 47-23 pounding of Virginia City Friday on senior night, finishing with a 10-4 conference record and earning the three seed in the zone playoffs.
The Lady Serpents will meet the number two seeded McDermitt Bulldogs (8-2) in the quarterfinals at Wooster High School in Reno at 3 p.m. If they can get past McDermitt, they will face the winner of the Pyramid Lake (14-0) Jackpot (4-6) game on Friday at 6:20 p.m. at North Valleys High. The Lady Serpents took Pyramid Lake to the wire earlier this month, losing 48-46 on the road.
On the boys’ side, Mineral County (12-13, 9-5) wrapped up the regular season last weekend with a split against Virginia City and at Smith Valley. The boys had already clinched a spot in the postseason, but were playing for seeding when they fell to the Muckers 54-41 Friday on senior night.
The Serpents bounced back the following day when they knocked off Smith Valley 43-41, locking up the fourth seed in Thursday’s regional tournament and finishing one game back of Sierra Lutheran. Victor Williams led the Serpents with 14 points and 11 rebounds in the win.
The Serpents return to the playoffs after missing out last year, and will have a tough road ahead of them this week. They will face Owyhee (8-2), the number one seed, on Thursday at 4:40 p.m. at North Valleys High in the quarterfinals, and the winner of the Virginia City and McDermitt game on Friday at 4:40 p.m. if they can pull of the upset.
The girl’s regional championship game will be held at noon on Saturday at North Valleys High, while the boys will follow immediately after at 2 p.m. at the same location.
To view the full brackets, visit www.niaa.com.