By Tylar Laity
Girls Basketball Coach
The White Pine High girls basketball team started off the 2016/17 season with their usual trip to Hawthorne for the Serpent Classic. A three-day tournament with five games to play, the girls were anxious to get out on the court against someone other than their own team. “This tournament is a good way to start off the season, we get to see a few of our new conference opponents from the North league along with getting a couple of games against some well rounded smaller 1A schools,” said coach Tylar Laity.
White Pine started the tournament with a game on Thursday afternoon against Virginia City, resulting in a 43-13 win for the Ladycats. “It was a good first game, we were a little slow starting our offense but once we all got on the same page things were looking good,” said senior Michayla Cessford.
Just three hours later, White Pine played Battle Mountain, a new Northern league opponent that proved they will be ready to fight for a playoff spot. The Ladycats got off to an early start and never trailed in the game but did allow the Longhorns to close the gap later in the second half. “We just need to figure out how to close out games,” said senior Jenna Gubler, “it will help if we start taking care of the ball better.”
White Pine would hold on after the late surge by Battle Mountain to win the game 45-40.
Friday the Ladycats were able to watch a few other league opponents play and matched up with a couple of 1A schools in Smith Valley and Whittell. The first game against the Smith Valley Bulldogs proved to be a tough challenge for the Ladycats.
“They had some bigger girls down low we were definitely out sized,” said Britney Kingston.
The Bulldogs played a zone for most of the game and were able to keep the Ladycats out of the paint, but White Pine was able to get some help from a couple of their outside shooters and spread the scoring around to all of the girls to win 35-27.
The afternoon game with Whittell proved to be a great defensive game for the Ladycats, who allowed just 5 points in the first half and held the Warriors to no baskets in the second half. “This was a good game to get us back on track after a slow start this morning it was fun to see everyone score and be able to focus on some things as a team,” said senior Mikinley Prengel.
White Pine would go on to win that game 45-5 with leading scoring coming from Hailey Ernest who hit some big shots outside and Michayla Cessford who had some great looking shots as well.
The final day of the tournament brought a game with Pershing County, another new Northern league foe that also proved they will be a fighting for a top four playoff spot. The Ladycats got off to a good start with a three point play on a basket and free throw from Kingston. For the remainder of the first half the game was close with White Pine taking a three point lead into the second half.
Coming out of half time the Cats went on a 12-4 run but started to have some trouble with turnovers and poor decision making, with a 10-point lead with 6 minutes left. The Mustangs would go on a 16-5 run to close out the game and send it in to overtime.
In the first overtime of 2 minutes neither team was able to score and the game headed to double overtime, which was sudden death or first team to score. Both teams had chances to score in their first 3 possessions but couldn’t and after a turnover from the Ladycats the Mustangs were able to capitalize on the other end with a running shot from the free throw line.
“We have to work on finishing out games and understanding situations, that and not turn the ball over 30 times in a game,” Laity said. “Overall the tournament was a good learning experience and we came out with a 4-1 record, its not quite what we wanted but we will use these games to help us fix things before our first conference games in Dec. 15 and 16 on the road against Silver Stage and Yerington.
“Offensively everyone was able to score in 3 out of our 5 games and in the other games our veteran varsity players stepped up (Madison Rick and Britney Kingston lead in scoring in 4 out of the 5 games. Defensively we have some things to work on, but it wasn’t a bad way to start off the season.”