White Pine and Incline did get to face each other in the anticipated rematch in the NIAA/One Nevada Bank state 2A girls basketball finals in Reno last week. But the defending champion Ladycats didn’t get the three-peat they were hoping for.
Four times the teams met on the hardwoods this season. White Pine won the first meeting, but the Lady Highlanders won the next three, including the state championship last week at the Lawlor Center in Reno, taking the state trophy 38-30. It is the fourth title for Incline and the first since 2014.
It was a low scoring game, and not so good a one for White Pine. They only had 8 points at halftime, while Incline had 17.
Incline’s 6-2 sophomore center Eiley Tippins had half of her 10 points in the first quarter, while Eva Kingston was getting all five of the points for the Ladycats that quarter.
Things stayed slow in the second quarter also, both teams managing less than five points each.
“We wanted to play really good man defense that first half,” said coach Justin Locke. “But later on I don’t think our girls were quite as much in shape for that this time around, it was the Achilles heel for us.”
The Ladycats did manage to do a lot better in the third quarter, catching up to Incline 23-21 as the fourth quarter began. It was Olivia Hendrix who led the way with nine of her team high 10 points in that period.
White Pine stayed two points behind in the fourth quarter until Incline hit five of 10 free throws in the final 2:42 to build a 38-27 lead and hold off the Ladycats.
“We just didn’t execute our game plan until the third quarter and we had some success. Then Incline dropped back into their zone defense where we have struggled with them this season and our offense stalled a bit. We just didn’t execute as we should have,” Locke said.
Top scorer for Incline was Katherine Tong with 11 and Tippins with 10.
White Pine was 7-for-8 at the foul line. Incline was 6-of-17.
The Ladycats finished the season 20-5. Another fine year regardless of falling a bit short of their ultimate goal.
Locke will have a strong squad of six seniors expected back for the 2020-2021 season.
In the state semifinals against Calvary Chapel, Kingston had a 22-point game and Hendrix followed with 16 to pace White Pine to a 58-49 win.
On the 2A boys side, what look like a given for defending state champion Incline this year riding a 17-game win streak and an unbeaten league season, ended up being a 61-54 loss in the finals to league rival West Wendover.
They had beaten the Wolverines in the Northern region finals just five days earlier, but not this time. It marked the Wolverines first title since 2012.