Defending champs enter state as top seeds
The Mineral County High boys and girls basketball teams both won their respective regional tournaments on their home floor, and are now in the best possible position to repeat as state champions over the next couple of days in Reno.
Both the high school and middle school gyms were packed with excitement last week as the town of Hawthorne played host to a total of 16 teams during the three-day tournament, all vying for a spot in state. When the dust settled, the Serpent boys and girls both earned the No. 1 seeds and are each two wins away from being called back-to-back champions.
“It was awesome for us to play in front of our home fans, and great for the community to host this event,” boys coach Pete Summerbell said. “The turnout was great all week.”
The boys entered the title game against Sierra Lutheran winners of 13 straight, but it didn’t come easy. After jumping out to a 17-11 lead at the end of the first quarter, the rest of the game was tight. Mineral County led 29-24 at the half, and were able to hold off the Falcons just enough to secure a 61-51 win to capture the title.
“They were pretty stubborn and had a great defensive plan, we just couldn’t quite pull away,” Summerbell said. “I was proud of how we played defense, but they played great defense too and made us earn our shots.”
Treven Wachsmuth led the Serpents with 28 points, while Ethan Nelms had 13 points. Seth Bozzi finished with eight points and 12 rebounds in his last home game.
The Serpents reached the championship after knocking off Virginia City 64-40 in the semifinals on Friday, and taking care of Whittell 80-43 on Thursday to open the tourney. Wachsmuth had 24 points in the win over the Muckers, and Bozzi had 25 points and 22 rebounds in the win over Whittell. Alex Palacious also came up big in the quarterfinals with 24 points.
It didn’t come quite as easy for the girls as they returned some key players from injury who hadn’t played the last few weeks. They met up with a familiar rival in the title game against Virginia City, and got past the Muckers 52-47 to win the regional championship.
Perla Gutierrez had 28 points in the win, while Lashay Stephens finished with 10. Jayla Tolliver had nine points and grabbed 11 rebounds to help her team secure the top seed in the state tournament this week.
The girls reached the championship after beating Coleville 49-46 Friday night behind 16 points by Gutierrez and 15 points and 13 rebounds by Tolliver. Jerzi Moody-Isom also had a big game with nine points and 13 rebounds.
Gutierrez led the girls with 20 points in a 57-29 win over Whittell to open the tournament.
The stage is now set for the state tournament which begins today in Reno. The Serpent boys open with Owyhee on Thursday at 8:30 p.m. at Wooster High School, with the winner meeting either Pahranagat Valley or Sierra Lutheran on Friday at 5:30 p.m. in the title game at Lawlor Events Center. Mineral County hasn’t played Owyhee this season, but has beaten Sierra Lutheran three times, and split with Pahranagat Valley.
“If we get Alamo on Friday it will be another good game, we’ve both improved a lot since we last played,” Summerbell said. “We aren’t looking ahead yet though and have to get past a tough Owyhee team first, which won’t be easy.”
The girls will open the tournament on Thursday as well and will take on Wells at 6 p.m. at Wooster. Eureka and Virginia City make up the other side of the bracket, with the championship game set for Friday at 3:40 p.m. at Lawlor.