Calvary Chapel’s girls basketball season unofficially ended Feb. 12.
The Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association forced the Lions to forfeit 11 games after it found the team had used an ineligible player. Those forfeits knocked Calvary Chapel from second to eighth place and out of the Class 2A Southern League playoffs.
Seven days later, the Lions’ season got a second life, and the team is riding it all the way to the state tournament.
After an appeal restored six victories, the Lions (16-11) won the Southern League tournament and will face Northern Region runner-up Incline (20-5) in the state semifinals at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Eldorado High School. Lincoln County (15-11) and White Pine (24-2) meet in the other semifinal at 3 p.m. The winners play for the state title at 2:40 p.m. Saturday at Orleans Arena.
“We’re all very excited to be here,” Calvary Chapel junior Tyra Perkins said. “I feel like everyone on the team knew that we had something to prove. We came out and proved everyone wrong and showed we were able to win.”
But for those seven days, the Lions weren’t sure they would play again this season.
“When we were waiting for the appeal to go through, there was a slight feeling that they might not let us in, but we prayed about it and came together as a family,” Calvary Chapel coach Shay Johnson said. “Regardless of what was done or said, these girls put in the work to be here.”
A hearing officer decided that the Lions would have won six of the 11 games without the ineligible player. It was enough to move Calvary Chapel back to the league’s No. 4 seed.
The Lions rallied past league champion Needles in the semifinals and beat Lincoln County in the final.
Freshman Olivia Bell was the spark plug in the two league tournament games, scoring 48 of the team’s 87 points. Perkins had 14 points and 11 rebounds against Needles.
It was a bitter pill for Needles, which had the league’s best record but had to face arguably one of the two most talented teams for the right to advance to the state tournament.
“It’s not fair, but life’s not fair,” said Needles athletic director Bill Darrow, who also serves as the Southern League president. “We had an opportunity and didn’t take advantage of it, but it also wasn’t the opportunity that we should have had. Our girls really got the short end of the stick, but we accept the fact that we lost.”
Darrow also said his school and the league will approach the NIAA’s Board of Control this month to try to change the appeal rule.
“We want to make sure this doesn’t happen to someone else,” Darrow said.
The Lions realize they’re likely not going to win any league popularity contests, but that’s also not going to stop them from trying to win the program’s first state title.
“This is an unbelievable group of girls,” Johnson said. “They’re committed to each other regardless of any situation that comes up.”
Contact reporter Bartt Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-4690.
Friday’s state semifinals
Class 3A boys
Mojave vs. Churchill County, 12:45 p.m. at Orleans Arena
Elko vs. Chaparral, 4:15 p.m. at Orleans Arena
Class 2A boys
Lincoln County vs. Incline, 4:45 p.m. at Eldorado
The Meadows vs. North Tahoe, 8:15 p.m. at Eldorado
Class 1A boys
Spring Mountain vs. Jackpot, 4:45 p.m. at SLAM Academy
Mineral County vs. Wells, 8:15 p.m. at SLAM Academy
Class 3A girls
Boulder City vs. Churchill County, 11 a.m. at Orleans Arena
Lowry vs. Moapa Valley, 2:30 p.m. at Orleans Arena
Class 2A girls
Lincoln County vs. White Pine, 3 p.m. at Eldorado
Calvary Chapel vs. Incline, 6:30 p.m. at Eldorado
Class 1A girls
Coleville vs. Eureka, 3 p.m. at SLAM Academy
McDermitt vs. Mineral County, 6:30 p.m. at SLAM Academy