By Dave Maxwell
Lincoln County Record
Defending Division III girls state basketball champion White Pine is on another path to glory.
And the prospects got a little brighter after the league tournament in Las Vegas last weekend.
The team they beat for the 2015 state title, is the first one they bumped out in the regional semifinals this year.
The Ladycats had finished second in league to Lincoln County, and it looked like those two would be the ones who battled it out for seeding into the state tournament this weekend.
But No. 1 seed Lincoln (23-4) was upset by No. 4 Agassi Prep in the semi-finals on Friday and that opened the door for the Ladycats to rush in.
And rush in they did, although often times in such cases the path to victory is not always a museum-ready work of art.
White Pine took care of Needles with a 40-30 win in their first game, then a 54-48 win over Agassi Prep.
On Friday, against Needles, with the game tied at 26, Emily Bischoff came off the bench to ignite a 14-4 run in the final 2:55 to lift the Ladycats to the win. The teams had split the regular season meetings.
Coach Krystal Smith said, “I turned to Emily with 3-and-a-half minutes left and said, ‘hey, you’ve been pretty quiet, but for three minutes I’ve got to have everything you’ve got’ and she told me she could do it.”
Bischoff went to work and scored the game’s next five points giving White Pine a 31-26 lead. Ashlyn Huntington sealed it with a key steal, a three-pointer, and four free throws.
On Saturday afternoon in the championship against Agassi Prep, another team the Ladycats had split with, Debra Kingston had 19 points and nine rebounds to lead White Pine to their second consecutive playoff title.
“Our seniors were huge for us,” Smith said. “Debra and Ashlyn Huntington, when those two are on the floor, they’re tough, even not on their best days.”
White Pine took a 30-23 halftime lead, but Agassi closed to within 35-32 on free throws by Denise Parker late in the third quarter.
The Ladycats pulled away only to have Agassi get close again, 46-42 midway through the fourth quarter, but get no closer.
Kadi Finicum scored four points in the final three minutes to help hold Agassi at bay. “She scored in key situations for us,” Smith said. “When the game was starting to get tight, she put us up by two more.”
White Pine (25-6) faces No. 2 seed West Wendover (19-7) today at 11 a.m. at the Lawlor Center on the campus of UNR.