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Girls basketball: Attendance lags, but players keep spirits up


12:00 AM, Jan. 27, 2013 EST

Damonte Ranch girls basketball vs. Wooster at Wooster on Jan. 25. / Tim Dunn/RGJ

Students sections inside gyms around Northern Nevada get downright rowdy most Friday nights -- after 7 p.m. that is.

While students and others around the region fork over a few dollars and get their hand stamped to watch a boys basketball game, just 30 minutes earlier only parents, siblings and a handful of players' friends take in most girls games.

"It's like we're not as important," Reno High's Savannah Schulze said. "It's like they're saying, compared to the guys, we're not as fun to watch. When it's just as fun to watch, it's just different than the guys' game."

That a disparity in attendance for boys' and girls' games exists is not a surprise. But sometimes the gap is five-fold.

Reno coach Shane Foster spoke almost excitedly this week about the 500 spectators he estimated watched last Saturday's game between Reed and Reno, perennially the top teams in the region. But 500 would be a below average gate for most Division I league boys games.

"At first, it felt like our school doesn't support us or don't like us," Reed's Tyler Sumpter said.

Schools don't keep attendance records. But the NIAA does for postseason events.

In the 2011 Northern 4A region tournament, the boys played in front of approximately 3,467 spectators; just about 1,857 watched the girls play. In last year's regional, roughly 3,724 watched the boys compared to 1,236 for the girls.

"They come to see the boys dunk," Reno's Shalen Shaw said. "We can't dunk, so we can't put that out there for them."

Generally speaking, the disparity is not as large in the smaller classifications, where one-school towns prevail, and often getting a good seat to see the boys play means claiming it at the girls' game.

"It doesn't surprise me. In high school sports, everyone wants to come watch the boys," Bishop Manogue girls coach Craig Holt said. "The girls kind of buy in to the fact that people aren't going to be there most of the time."

The players admit they wish more fans, especially students, showed up -- "Having your peers cheer you on brings a different level than just your parents," Reno's Gigi Hascheff said -- but they understand the territory.

"Most of us are used to it," Manogue's Gabbi Concepcion said. "It used to bother me, but this year Reed and Reno and Spanish Springs are really our only close games so it's understandable when people don't come to the other games."

Competitiveness seems to be a big factor. Girls games often finish with a 25-point differential or more.

"We talk about it because some people take it more personal than others," Hascheff said. "We put a lot of work in and some people wonder why they don't want to support us or come watch. But for the good games, that's answered. They show up."

Manogue last week tried to manufacture some additional support for a game that was not expected to be close. The school held a Ladies Night promotion where any student who wore pink to the girls game was eligible to win prizes.

"It worked out all right," Manogue's Kelly Lujan said. "There were noticeably more students here."

Carson, Damonte Ranch, McQueen and North Valleys were mentioned in an informal survey of the worst places to play in terms of attendance and dead environment.

"It was vacant at Damonte the other night," Hascheff said. "There was no one there."

There often isn't, yet the girls play on.

"If they come, great," Schulze said. "If they don't, we're used to playing in front of what usually shows up."

 

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