FIELDER'S VOICES: Of basketballs and snowballs

It’s hard to believe basketball teams opened practice more than a month ago.

I’ve been walking around pretending football season still is ongoing. It’s comforting. You should try it.

But the truth is, the gridirons of Southern Nevada have been swept away like a winter sports schedule by the Clark County School District at the first sign of a snowflake.

We go from playing one or two days a week to every day but Sunday.

We go from reading on about 51 football teams to 112 basketball teams.

Time to run a fast break of early-season musings from throughout the tournament-crazed Las Vegas Valley.

Winter wonderland — Raise your hand if you ever had seen a palm tree covered in snow before this week.

I’m from the land of 115-degree summers and putting on a parka when it’s 50 degrees outside. I tilted my head like a curious dog when I saw strange white flakes falling from the sky.

Apparently, so did the school district.

Two straight days of sporting events were iced because of the storm.

Good luck to whoever has to sift through the rescheduling debris. I’m just glad it’s not me.

Not a misprint — Break out the red, white and blue ABA ball for Rancho and Del Sol.

The teams combined to score 216 points on Dec. 5, when the Dragons escaped with a 110-106 overtime win.

Hey, isn’t this the same Rancho school that lost 63-42 and 72-47 during football season?

From here on out, I will refer to Rancho as “Pinball High School.”

Large-school boys dark horse — Mostly everything has gone according to form, with Cheyenne, Desert Pines, Palo Verde, Silverado, Eldorado, Liberty, Mojave and Bishop Gorman looking strong in the early going.

If you’re searching for intrigue, try Las Vegas. Under first-year coach Jason Wilson, the Wildcats have weathered a tough slate to start 4-4, and senior guard Tony Eackles averaged 23.2 points in their first six.

You’ll laugh at me for this, but don’t overlook Tech’s first league win in five years — a 57-56 victory over Del Sol — on Tuesday.

Large-school girls dark horse — OK, this is cheating.

Bonanza is 9-1, so word is out already.

But how about the Bengals joining Bishop Gorman, Centennial and Silverado as early front runners?

Small-school boys dark horse — Henderson International is known for housing those Division I studs at Findlay Prep.

But lost amid the national media hype surrounding the Pilots could be what looks like a promising team actually wearing Henderson International uniforms.

Wolverines senior Josh Young is a 6-foot-6-inch forward with a lethal stroke from 3-point range.

Eight of the Wolverines’ nine opponents have been above their Class 1A level, yet they stand 5-4.

Small-school girls dark horse — None in 1A, which had staggered to a combined 18-39 mark through Thursday.

In 2A, an intriguing three-team race is developing between defending state champion Needles, runner-up Lincoln County and upstart West Wendover.

Best boys player you haven’t seen — Needles (Calif.) senior guard Darra Russell has led the Mustangs to a 9-3 start, averaging 20.2 points, 10.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists through five games.

The top small-school sophomore in the state might be Lincoln County guard Dantley Walker, who has averaged 21.7 points and 5.3 assists.

Best girls player you haven’t seen — OMG, are you kidding?

West Wendover junior combo guard Danika Sharp has the Wolverines off to an 11-1 start and through 10 games was averaging 31.2 points, 6.4 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 7.0 steals.

Also keep an eye on Lund senior guard Keisha Stewart, who put up 31 in the Mustangs’ 64-58 overtime win over West Wendover on Dec. 13.