By Ross Johnson

Ely Times Staff Writer

After winning their first state championship last season, the White Pine High Ladycats basketball team is hungry for another.

If last week’s tournament is any indicator, they seem well on their way.

The Ladycats traveled to Hawthorne last week to compete in the Serpent Classic Tournament. They finished the tournament 5-0, opening the season with a strong victory over Mineral County 51-20 on Dec. 3. The next day they edged Pershing County 30-29 and beat Smith Valley 39-34. On Dec. 5 they handily defeated Dayton 44-12 and wrapped the tournament that day with a 36-25 win over Battle Mountain.

Fourth-year head coach Krystal Smith has high expectations for this season. Her team, including seven returners, started practicing Nov. 16.

“The girls are hungry and working hard,” she said.

Last year’s DIII coach of the year, Smith will rely heavily upon senior standout guard and team co-captain Debra Kingston. Named last year’s DIII All-State MVP, Kingston also made the All-Conference first team. Smith also expects returning starter and co-captain Ashlyn Huntington to play a large leadership role on the court.

Smith enjoys a significant home court advantage. Large crowds contributed to the Ladycats’ undefeated home record last season.

Yet challenges remain.

“It’s more difficult to win the second championship than the first,” Smith said. “But we should be right there at the end.”

This season, Smith is emphasizing ball control and defensive pressure.

“We need to find small ways to get better,” she said, “which will lead to larger victories at the end.”

The team also looks to improve on the road, suffering their only two losses last season on opposing courts. Rival schools Lincoln County and Needles provide White Pine their greatest challenge, consistently scoring on the Ladycats’ strong defense and regularly meeting them in the playoffs.

“Those are tough gyms to play in,” Smith said.

The Ladycats will also travel to Las Vegas later this season to compete in a tournament against larger schools from that city and from California.

They host Mountain View Christian Friday, Dec. 11 at 6 p.m., followed the next day by another home game against Lake Mead Academy at 12:30 p.m.

The White Pine High boys basketball team defeated Virginia City in the Serpent Classic Tournament Saturday, Dec. 4, but lost their other four games. They lost their tournament opener against Bishop Union 68-60 on Dec. 3. After their 59-51 victory against the Muckers the next day, they fell to Yerington 62-29. On Dec. 5 they lost to Mineral County 62-57, and then lost to Spring Mountain 40-30.

The Bobcats host Mountain View Christian Academy Friday, Dec. 11 at 7:30 p.m., followed the next day by another home game against Lake Mead Academy at 2:00 p.m.