Courtesy photo/Dave Maxwell
Madison Rick for White Pine in a home game. The team scoring leader, Rick leads the unbeaten Lady Bobcats into an important game at Battle Mountain this Friday.

It’s a battle of the teams vying for the No. 1 spot in the 2A Northern girls basketball league.

This Friday, White Pine High plays at Battle Mountain with the winner clinching the league lead with only two games remaining before the playoffs.

With at least a three game cushion between the Longhorns and the Bobcats and third-place Pershing County, the winner will be assured the No. 1 seed into the league tournament.

As the 2A Northern is going to a six-team playoff format this year, the top two seeds have a first round bye and an automatic berth in the semifinals Feb. 9 in Elko.  When Battle Mountain and the Lady Bobcats (20-0, 11-0) played in Ely about a month ago, White Pine won 40-22 with Madison Rick scoring 14 points and Brittany Kingston adding 12.

Since then the Longhorns (18-5, 11-1) have won eight of their last nine, losing only to Wells Jan. 16.

This past weekend, the Ladycats rolled over North Tahoe 65-20 on Friday, but had a tough battle with Incline on Saturday and held on for a 38-30 win.

Brittany Kingston led the team with 18 points in the win. Sister Eva Kingston and Hayley Ernest followed with 12 and 11 points.

The girls had a 45-13 halftime lead, held the Lakers scoreless in the third quarter, and played the subs in the fourth quarter.

Incline was tougher. Having squeaked by seventh place West Wendover the night before, the Lakers came into Ely with upset on their minds, primarily in the person of Taylor Redfern. She scored 28 points, making all but two of Incline’s total score.  Brittany Kingston had 11 points for the Bobcats who had seven players in the score book.

It was a defensive game in the second half. Incline had only four points in the third quarter. But White Pine didn’t do much better scoring only six, and at the end of the third quarter the score was tied at 25. But the Bobcats outscored Incline 13-5 in the fourth quarter to earn the win.

After the game at Battle Mountain this week, the girls travel to Eureka Saturday and a non-league game with the Lady Vandals (13-6). The teams did not play each other last year.

On the boy’s side, the Bobcats (6-14, 2-9) split their games last weekend, winning over North Tahoe 54-42, but losing a close one to Incline 68-65.

This leaves the team with only a slim chance to make the six-team league tournament. The Bobcats also have road games remaining at second place Battle Mountain (20-4, 10-2) this Friday, then at league leader Pershing County (20-3, 10-1) Feb. 9.