By Shelby Jones, SLHS Freshman
The Sierra Lutheran basketball program is firing up. This year, both the varsity and JV girls set new school records, along with the JV boys. The Falcons were successful in the classroom, too, because both the girls and boys varsity teams were honored as Nevada Division IV State Academic champions on Feb. 27 at Lawlor Events Center in Reno. The girls team compiled a combined 3.87 grade point average, and the boys a 3.72 grade point average.
The varsity girls had an incredible season. They shattered school records for most wins in league and for the overall season. The Lady Falcons were 17-9 overall, and 12-4 in league. They went to NIAA Division IV regional tournament, but lost to the eventual state champion Owyhee Braves. Coach Michael Nelson said, “It was a great season. I knew it was going to be special after seeing how well we played early in the season. This team has historically taken a few games to warm up, but they came out firing this year.” Considering their improvements and disadvantages, Nelson added, “We have improved our shooting, but still need to work on it. With our size, we need to shoot in the 35 percent range to be very successful, but I do believe it is a goal that we can reach this summer.” Nelson further explained what he thought about the future for the program: “Losing only one senior means that our core remains intact. I believe we have a great chance to win the league next year. If we keep getting stronger with our shooting and take care of the ball, we should be extremely successful. The program is finally headed in the right direction. We have also had two straight successful JV years which will allow us to be competitive for years to come.” Junior Clare Davison broke some school records, also. She had the most steals in a game (12), most steals for the season (102), and most assists for the season (69). Grace Bonafede broke the record for offensive rebounds for a season with 95.
In total, the Lady Falcons had a very successful season. Clare Davison scored 131 points, plus she had 102 steals and 69 assists. Sophomore Brynna Hansen had 157 points overall, 167 rebounds, (76 offensive), 24 blocks and 60 steals. Junior Grace Bonafede scored 147 points, had 156 rebounds, (95 offensive) and 22 blocks.
As for varsity boys, they were young, inexperienced and had some tough luck with injuries. The Falcons finished with a 9-20 overall record and 5-9 in league. Alan Reed, head coach of Sierra’s varsity team says, “It was a tough year from the standpoint of only getting five wins. We were an inexperienced team with two freshmen (Zane Warkentin and Nathan Waite) starting in the backcourt. And two of our important players – sophomore Bret Walker (coming off ACL surgery) and junior Jake Cummings (broke his hand) – were out for a combined total of 23 games, so they never really got on track. Our starting five didn't play together until the 21st game of the season.”
On the other hand, Reed also had some hope, regardless of the records. “That aside, it still was a special year in a lot of ways, especially when it came to resiliency and team building,” he said. “This was a team where everyone worked hard from the first practice through the last game. We’ve got a ton of work to do, but there's much to be optimistic about.” As for the future, Reed said, “We lose one starter, but our JV program had their best season ever so, it’s going to be neat times at Sierra Lutheran.” Statistically, Sierra wasn’t at all bad. Warkentin had 298 points, along with 61 steals. Waite collected 147 points and 44 steals. Junior Tyrale Luken had 109 rebounds, 79 defensive, junior Jake Cummings had 100 rebounds, 68 defensive, while Senior Cameron Drudge had 48 assists and 52 steals total.
The JV boys had a great season, having the most consecutive wins and most wins of any season. Overall, they went 13-11. Sophomore Kyman Berger racked up 153 points and 111 rebounds. Steven Flanagan had a total of 58 steals. Thomas Mellum had 119 points, 40 assists and 52 steals. Blake Ranalla had 104 rebounds, 66 defensive.
There was also success for the JV girls, as they went undefeated in league (8-0) with a 17-3 record overall. This team experienced some unusual happenings, from postponing games due to lack of players, to playing with only four players. Sophomore Aleyna Gilson had 101 points total with 25 assists and 62 steals. Sophomore Alyssa Rowe had 96 points, 22 assists and 82 steals in total. Freshman Amanda Almeida had 131 rebounds and freshman Taylor Davison had 26 blocks.