The three Rail City girls basketball teams have put the last of their non-league schedules to bed and now head into the meat of their league schedules as the holiday break fizzles out – unfortunately for the students and school district employees.
Reed and Spanish Springs participated in McQueen’s Silver State Slam last weekend. Both went 4-0 in the tournament. Sparks has not played since a Dec. 21 non-league loss to North Valleys.
The Raiders, Railroaders and Cougars are all in different situations and all have room to improve heading into crucial January and February matchups.
Spanish Springs Cougars
At 10-2, the Cougars have put together a nice stat sheet in November and December but the two losses have come in their three league games this fall/winter.
First-year head coach Arturo Cardenas has installed a new offense that remains in the works but his emphasis on defense has played a major role in the Cougs winning 10 of their first 12 games this season.
Five times this season Spanish Springs has allowed 27 points or fewer and its held Yerington to 19 points and Pacific Grove to 18 (three in the second half) in this weekend’s tournament.
Despite the stout defensive numbers, Cardenas said his team still is not where he wants it and is still installing new pressures.
Along with working with half-full playbook, Cardenas said his team is operating at half-steam.
“We are not where I thought we would be,” Cardenas said. “We have some injuries and I am still working on my rotation. I am trying to remember the last time we were healthy and had a full squad at practice.”
Offensively, all-league point guard Hannah Woytek and sniper Mariah Vargas have carried the bulk of the responsibility and Cardenas said attacking the basket has been a point of emphasis going into league play.
Spanish Springs’ coach also said the team is working on “toughness, defense and to become more fluid on the offensive side.”
The Purple host Bishop Manogue Tuesday, starting a seven-day span where it plays four league games.
If the Raiders’ first seven games (6-1) are any indication, the Blue and Gold could make a serious push at a state title this season.
Maxpreps currently ranks the Raiders No. 3 in Nevada behind Reno (10-1) and Centennial (11-3), although the Huskies’ one loss came to Reed on Dec. 19 at Reno, 50-47.
Back for Reed is senior standout and UConn commit Gabby Williams, after tearing her ACL at the end of last season. But teammate Tyler Sumpter has taken some of the scoring pressure away from Williams, leading the squad in scoring three of the last five contests.
Sumpter set a state record with 50 points in a Dec. 20 win over Hug.
“We are starting to come in sync with each other, seeing each other on the floor, getting into a good rhythm,” Reed coach Sara Ramirez said after a pair of wins in the Silver State Slam on Friday. “So I’m really liking what I’m seeing.”
The Raiders have averaged 75.8 points per contest over the last five outings but Ramirez is just as pleased with her group’s effort on the other end of the court.
“I think our defense is what I really like,” Ramirez said Friday. “We are trapping really well. We are anticipating. We are moving, a lot of our defense is setting up our offense.”
The Raiders jump back into league play, after the brief four-game non-league burst (their only non-league games of the season), Tuesday at home against Wooster.
At 1-6, Frank Avilla and his squad aren’t off the hottest start but their record is mirage-esque. All but two of Sparks’ losses this season are to Div. I opponents.
Sparks topped Dayton on the road Dec. 20, 51-38, and sit at 1-1 in Div. I-A North games.
“We are making great strides at this point of the season and are getting better each time we take the court,” Avilla said.
After taking over midway through last season, Avilla is nearly midway through his first full season at the helm. He has said through the early portion of the season that his biggest challenge is simply teaching his girls the fundamentals of the game.
“We are working on all aspects of the game that we can implement into our team makeup that will help us achieve our goals,” Avilla said. “Basically all phases of the game.”
Avilla said his group has remained refreshingly open-minded this season in what has essentially turned into a makeover.
“I've really liked their attitude and willingness in wanting to better for themselves and for their team good,” he said. “Their work ethic in doing so is a pleasure to see.”
The Railroaders look to move above .500 in league play Friday at Lowry before completing an eastern Nevada trip Saturday at Fernley.