By Lukas Eggen Ely Times Staff Writer

The White Pine High girls’ basketball team is headed back to State after finishing second in the Division III Northern tournament last weekend.

The Ladycats defeated Whittell 48-32 and Battle Mountain 42-30 before falling to Pershing County 64-51 in the championship game.

“We had a much more balanced attack this weekend,” coach Krystal Smith said. “We had an even amount of scoring and played quite confidently. It was nice to see. We were pressed in all three games and we handled it really well.”

Three different Ladycats (Bailey Moore, Debra Kingston and Haidn Windous) scored in double figures for White Pine during the tournament.

The top two teams from the northern region advanced to the State championships. White Pine opens the championships with a rematch against Lincoln County on Friday in the semifinals.

The teams have faced three times this year, one at each team’s home court and one on a neutral site. White Pine won all three.

“I just hope my team comes to play,” Smith said. “We’ve played Lincoln three times and beat them all three so I would like to believe the mental edge is with us. We know we can beat them and beat them earlier when we weren’t playing our best basketball.”

Along with a balanced scoring attack, confidence could be the x-factor that pushes White Pine toward a state title this season. After playing in some difficult road games and coming out with wins earlier in the season, including against 3A school Lowry and Lincoln County, Smith said the team is playing with more and more confidence.

“I think it’s almost like the pressure is off us now,” Smith said. “We made it to state. It seems like when we beat Battle Mountain on Friday, the nerves were gone. Now we’re here to play basketball and do our best.”

If White Pine wins, it will face the winner of the Pershing County/Calvary Chapel game on Saturday for the State Championship.

With the season winding down and a state title in its reach, Smith said the Ladycats are ready to bring home the title. With just two games standing in its way, White Pine will be looking to come home as champs.

“The mental confidence is there,” Smith said. “If we execute and play smart basketball we will be just fine.”

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