With the Sierra Foothill League championship all wrapped up, the Nevada Union girls basketball team had one more thing left to do before they tip off the postseason next week – honor their seniors.
Tuesday night at Albert Ali Gymnasium was senior night and the Lady Miners took time before their game against Roseville to acknowledge seniors Nicole Lierly, Kaylin Martin, Olivia Gulsvig, Sarina Orellana and Emily Smith.
“I’ve known these girls since I was in second grade,” Lierly said. “I’ve grown up with them, they’re like my sisters. It’s going to be very hard and very sad to leave them.”
The Lady Miners (21-4, 9-1 SFL) started all five seniors Tuesday, and even though three of the five seniors are regular starters, NU got off to a slow start. NU scored only 10 points in the first quarter.
But Nevada Union wasn’t about to have senior night marred by an upset at the hands of the Lady Tigers. After Roseville pulled to within two at 18-16 in the second quarter, the Lady Miners snapped out of their early funk and went on a 38-3 run over the next quarter and a half to break the game wide open and cruise to a 70-27 victory.
The Lady Miners had 11 players score on the night, including all five seniors, and were led by junior Sydney Porter with 14 points.
Lierly was second on the team with 12 points to go with five steals.
On the season, Lierly averaged 9.8 points per game to go with 1.3 steals per game.
“If we need a bucket you can count on (Lierly),” Nevada Union head coach John McDaniel said. “She can create her own shot, and she’s just a character to have around in practice.”
Martin added seven points, three rebounds and two assists. In the 2012-13 season the senior point guard averaged 6.3 points per game and led NU in assists with 2.4 per game.
“Kaylin is our smooth floor general,” McDaniel said. “When we feel things are getting out of control we turn to Kaylin and say, ‘Kaylin right the ship,’ and she’s done it very well the last two years.”
NU’s other senior starter, Orellana, grabbed five rebounds to go with three points in the win.
“Sarina, she brings grit and determination,” McDaniel said. “She is undersized to say the least, but has an oversized heart.”
NU’s other seniors, Gulsvig and Smith, scored seven and four respectively.
McDaniel, who is in his sixth year as the varsity head coach, said he saw many of the seniors play when they were in junior high and he knew then they were going to be special.
“I saw these girls when they were seventh graders and I just thought those girls are going to be amazing, and they have been,” McDaniel said.
The 2012-13 version of the Lady Miners have already accomplished much as they hit the 20-win mark this season, unseated Del Oro at the top of the SFL after a seven-year run and are currently ranked No. 4 in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I MaxPreps rankings. NU will likely host an early round playoff game, but Martin said there is still much to be done.
“We want to win state and go to Arco,” she said. “That’s been our dream since we were tiny. To go to Arco, to win at Arco, and to win not only the section but the state tournament and hopefully we will go as far as we can.”
With the girls NU has on its roster and the caliber of basketball they have been playing, McDaniel said he has high hopes for the postseason.
“These girls have been playing together for so long there is a special chemistry between them,” he said. “They’ve been doing it for so long its second nature.
We have goals and we want to hit them. We want to go to the state tournament, we want to go as far as we can in our section and then go to state and see what kind of damage we can do.”
The Lady Miners have the rest of the week off and will find out their round-one playoff matchup Sunday when the section releases the postseason brackets.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.