By Tylar Laity
White Pine girls basketball coach
For the third year in a row the White Pine High girls basketball team would return to the state tournament, but they would not bring back the state title for a third year in a row after losing in the semifinal round to Agassi Prep, 62-45
The game started off with a awkward jump and then re-jump before White Pine got the ball and looked like they could score the first basket, but a missed opportunity gave the ball to Agassi, and then the ball would not go in the basket for the first two minutes of the game.
Both the Stars and Ladycats would have their chances with missed jumpshots, layups and both teams would miss their first four free throws each, but finally Agassi Prep was able to put in basket and free throw then steal the ball back and hit a 3 point shot followed by another steal and quick layup.
After a timeout by White Pine the quarter would not change much, more turnovers by WP and a few more jumpshots by Agassi who started the game on a 12-0 run would finish the quarter with a 16-4 lead.
“It was frustrating because we knew what we had to do going out, take care of the ball and rebound our second chances and put them in, but we did not execute,” Coach Tylar Laity said
Going in to the game the Stars were averaging just over 65 points in league play while the Cats averaged just over 43, but the two leagues had their major differences, the North is more known for defensive close games not offensive shootouts.
But on this day, the northern team White Pine could not shut down the Stars, to start the second quarter both teams traded baskets back and forth but the Stars were up at the half, 32-18.
“Their pressure had us turning over the ball way to many times in the first half, 17 to be exact, you can not win many games in the playoffs with that many turnovers in a game let alone a half,” Laity said. “Offensively we started clicking and we battled in that quarter 14-16 but we just gave them too much of a cushion with that first quarter.”
The Ladycats would make only 4 out of their 11 free throws in the first half and for the first time this year they were out rebounded in the half 20-17. Coming out of the halftime break the Cats would try to put on a charge led by a couple of baskets from the three seniors Hailey Andre, Jenna Gubler and McKinley Prengel along with a big three from Hailey Ernest, to close the gap to 41-30, but that is the closest that White Pine could get in the half.
That score would remain for four straight possessions for White Pine but they could not quite get a basket to fall, instead the Stars would get a couple of quick baskets in transition.
“If we score on one of those possessions and bring the game within single digits before the halfway point of the quarter it becomes a whole new ball game with momentum on our side, but we just couldn’t get one to fall,” said assistant coach Justin Locke.
Agassi would end the third quarter on a 5-0 run and then open the 4th with a 9-0 run to take the game to a 26 point difference at one point.
The Ladycats would not give up though, putting on some pressure of their own and looking to run some transition lead by Britney Kingston and Madison Rick they would get within 12 before a couple of quick timeouts by both coaches.
The Stars would then hit a 3 and get a couple more quick baskets and then the final minute and a half resulting in some substitutions for the younger players on the rosters for both teams getting some time. Agassi would go on to win by the score of 62-45.
White Pine spread the scoring out with eight different players scoring, Rick with another double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds, Kingston who almost had a double-double of her own 10 points and 9 rebounds, Ernest had 6 points, Jenna Gubler added 4 points and Lily Fullmer, Hailey Andre, McKinley Prengel, Maryn Van Tassell all scoring a basket.
The Ladycats finished the year at 21-8 and come up short on a repeat of being state champions.
“Its never easy to get here (State), and to win here is even harder, but we gave it all we had.” Andre said.
White Pine will lose four seniors from this years roster all guards, leaving some room for younger class men to step up next year as guards.
“We will see how much this fuels the others on the team to work hard in the off season and see if they can bounce back next year, I think with the leadership and skill returning next year that winning it all is possible but it all comes down to how much work comes when no one is watching this summer and next fall,” Laity said.