The two-time defending 2A state champion White Pine girls basketball team opened the 2019-2020 season at Sparks on Thursday this week.

Coach Justin Locke said he has eight returning players from the team that went 27-2 last season, 15-1 in the 2A North, and defeated Incline 34-25 in the state finals.

In fact, the Lady Bobcats have won the state championship four of the past five years, missing out in 2017, losing in the semifinals.

Trace Deeds and Madison Rick were the girls who graduated.  Locke said, “This year I have a strong senior class with five on the bench with junior Eva Kingston as our point guard.”

He said, “I think we have as talented a group as any in the 2A Division and can compete with anybody in the 2A North.”

As the season begins he noted, “When you have success, it’s staying competitive and hungry that is a key factor. It’s easy to get complacent and lose focus. We’ll be working on the goal of getting that third consecutive title.” 

A feat the Lady Bobcats have never done.

For the boys, coach Terrill Trask welcomes back his entire starting lineup. “I had no seniors last year. Kind of nice that way and we’ve brought up two new players from the JV squad.”

He said, “I should have a lot more experienced team this year. The main scoring threat will be Devin Starkey, and on the defensive end I expect senior Phoenix Ball to set the tone there. Austin Andre will be the floor leader this year. And Kincade Waggener is a go-getter for us, whatever he is asked to do.  Those are the players who have been in the program the longest and I expect a lot out of them this year.”

Trask said with the team being more experienced, “I think we can be quite competitive. The 2A North is tough.”

However, the 2A South has dominated the state tournament, winning 16 times since 2000.

The Bobcats were 9-17 last season, 6-10 in league and did not make the playoffs. White Pine’s last appearance in the state semifinals was in 2003.

 White Pine boys open the season this weekend Dec. 5-7 at a tournament at West Wendover, and both the boys and girls teams have a non-league game at Lincoln County in Panaca Dec. 10.