One team that is expected to advance to Thursday’s semifinals is Reed, the No. 1 seed from the High Desert League.
The Raiders have earned the top seed the past two seasons. If last season’s quarterfinal is any indication, tonight’s matchup against Sierra League No. 4 seed Douglas won’t be much of a contest either. Last, year Reed beat Damonte Ranch in its playoff opener, 56-19.
The Raiders have already proved they can beat the Tigers at home, rolling over the Minden school 66-39 on Jan. 6 in league play.
“I’m excited for it. We’re just getting back to full strength,” Reed girls basketball coach Sara Schopper said. “I think it will be a good game. I think we’re going to come out ready to play. Douglas is well coached, and I’m sure he’ll have some defenses for us. We’ve had two really good practices. After these practices, I feel pretty confident. We have Gabby (Williams) back to full speed. No more 50 percent speed.”
The one thing Schopper had been worried about going into playoffs was the health of her team. It’s looking good for the Raiders and they should be at full strength for their competition this week.
“I think we’re almost 100 percent. Everybody is playing tomorrow, so that’s a good thing,” Schopper said. “Tyler (Sumpter) has two practices under her belt. I think we’ll come out and play better because we’re finally together. It will be interesting to see us come out fired up and ready to play. Playoffs always bring a new intensity.”
Reed earned the chance to host a postseason game, but cross-town rival Spanish Springs will be headed south for its playoff opener.
While Spanish Springs defeated all six Sierra League opponents, the Cougars didn’t have an easy time against Sierra League runner-up Carson when the two teams met at the end of January. Spanish Springs won the home game 48-42, but didn’t play well for the whole four quarters.
The Purple and White dominated the first and third quarters, but had to score five of the last seven points of the game to earn the six-point victory. Excessive fouling almost proved costly for the local squad. Still, the Senators finished 11-5 in Northern 4A league play to earn a home playoff game.
“I think the biggest thing is they seem consistent game in and game out from what I’ve watched,” SSHS girls basketball coach Christine Eckles said. “They have a good understanding of their roles on that team. They have really quick guards, so they can get in front and attack the basket. We fouled them way too much last time, so we’ll have to defend better.”
Eckles isn’t worried about a possible home-court advantage for Carson as the Cougars have traveled further to win on the road this year.
“At girls games, you don’t get huge crowds where it becomes a factor,” Eckles said. “It’s just going to be about our execution. We went down to Douglas and played well. It’s just like any other game. It’s all about being prepared. If you’re not up for your first regional game and ready to play, then you don’t deserve to be there anyway. I think our kids will have the right frame of mind.”
Reno hosts Galena and Bishop Manogue will be at home against McQueen in the other two quarterfinal matchups. Tip-off is 7 p.m. for all games.
In the boys Northern 4A regionals, Reed will also open with a home game.
The Raiders will take on a team they faced at home two weeks ago. Reed ran by Damonte Ranch for an 80-66 triumph. However, the teams were tied at 40-40 after the first 16 minutes of action, so it was a little too close for comfort for Blue and Gold fans to assume another victory Wednesday night.
“I know they’re playing well right now, so I know it’s going to be a battle,” Reed boys basketball coach Dustin Hall said. “They’re big and physical, so they play tough against everybody.”
Reed wore down Damonte when they battled in the regular season, and it was the main reason the Raiders came out on top. Reed didn’t have an answer for Mustang senior Jeff Turk, who led all scorers with 31 points, including 21 in the first half.
The Mustangs went 8-8 in Northern 4A league play to receive the Sierra League’s No. 3 seed. The Raiders were 11-5 and the High Desert League runner-up.
Reed missed the playoffs the past two seasons. Before that, the Raiders barely made it in as the fourth seed, so having home-court advantage is a nice change.
“It is nice. The kids have earned it. They had a great regular season,” Hall said. “We’re definitely excited to have a home game and play in front of our crowd. We’re ready for a battle.”
Hug won the High Desert League and will host Bishop Manogue. Douglas is the regular-season Sierra League champion and challenges McQueen, while Reno heads to SL runner-up Galena.
The Sparks boys basketball squad is also playoff bound, but it won’t take the court again until Friday. When the Railroaders open the Northern 3A regional tournament, they will be taking on a team they routed by 29 points in a crossover league match-up about a month ago.
Fernley had a shot at claiming the Lahontan League’s No. 1 seed for the Northern 3A regional with a win its final regular season contest, but Dayton earned the honors of hosting a regional contest by knocking off Fernley Friday night.
Even though the Vaqueros were a win away from getting the top seed, they haven’t exactly had an overly successful season. Fernley finished 7-5 in league play, which was fourth in the league’s standings. Yerington and Pershing County, both 2A schools, finished as the top two teams in the Lahontan League.
Sparks is hoping the outcome of Friday night’s game resembles the first time the teams met this season. The Railroaders also beat the Vaqueros by 29 points last season, but Sparks boys basketball coach Dan Schreiber expects a different Fernley team.
“I think we really caught them off-guard. Given that it’s a month later, they’re a different team now,” Schreiber said. “They’ll make some adjustments. We’re definitely not coaching for Fernley with the mindset that we’re 30 points better than them. That’s not in our thinking. It’s the playoffs and it’s going to be a war…(The kids) are pretty confident. They know what to expect. It’s going to be a packed house. It’s going to be in our gym.”
A win Friday means Sparks punches a ticket to the state semifinals. Teams will be reseeded for state. The state championship will be held Saturday, Feb. 25 at Lawlor Events Center.