Remember the kids game King of the Mountain? That’s where the White Pine girls were at the beginning the regional playoffs this year and wanting to stay there. And after their school record setting season, mission accomplished. Just one more mountain to climb.
As the league leader and No. 1 seed in the new 2A North six-team playoff format, White Pine had a first round bye, so did No. 2 seed Battle Mountain.
White Pine and Battle Mountain eventually met in the tournament finals with the Ladycats taking an exciting 45-41 victory.
It’s the third time in four years the Ladycats have won the regional tourney.
First round matchups at the North Regional in Elko last week on Thursday involved Incline defeating Yerington, 40-36, and Pershing County downing Silver Stage, 52-33.
The Friday semifinal pairings had White Pine-Incline and Battle Mountain-Pershing County.
Against Incline, the Ladycats took a 21-16 halftime lead. The Highlanders fought back in the third quarter though, and had a 29-23 lead at one point. But an 11-0 run late in the third quarter and early fourth quarter put White Pine up again 34-29.
Once again the Highlanders came back like the ocean tides, twice pulling within two points before the Bobcats went on a 10-0 run to close out the game 40-36.“We did a good job of keeping our composure both times,” said Bobcats coach Justin Locke. “We were 12-for-13 at the line in the fourth quarter.”
Eva Kingston led the way for White Pine with 15 points. Haley Ernest contributed 13.
Taylor Redfern had a game high 21 points for Incline.
In the other semifinal, Battle Mountain bested Pershing County 55-45.
The Ladycats and Longhorns had split the regular season series, so Locke’s game plan in the tourney finals was to execute better on the press break. He said, “We had not done that as well the last time and I thought if we could eliminate our turnovers, we’d have a really good chance. We committed 32 turnovers in our last meeting with them (Feb. 2), when we could not break their press.”In this game, Locke said the Ladycats only had seven turnovers in the first half, “and didn’t do too bad in the second half either.”
White Pine broke out early to an 18-13 first quarter lead. Things slowed down in the second quarter and White Pine’s lead was only 23-21 at the break.
They outscored Battle Mountain 11-9 in the third quarter and the teams played even in the fourth quarter accounting for the 45-41 final.
Lily Fullmer led the way for White Pine with 14 points, over half of those coming from offensive rebounds.
At the state tournament Friday at Sparks High School, White Pine (25-2) will face South No. 2 Needles (21-10) and No. 1 Southern seed Lincoln County (24-3) plays Battle Mountain (22-6).The championship will be at the Lawlor Events Center at UNR Saturday at 6:10 p.m.
The games are also being broadcast live on the NFHS Network on the NIAA website www.NIAA.com.