TAHOE CITY, Calif. - The Pershing County girls basketball team looked every bit like two-time defending state champs Saturday.
"They don't win state championships for nothing," North Tahoe coach Rick Buhler said of the Mustangs. "They're well-rounded, they smother you on defense and they're efficient on offense."
Pershing County, at 16-2 and with aspirations of winning a third consecutive state title, used a strong all-around effort to earn a 58-17 win over the host Lakers.
"It didn't help that we are depleted. But we never gave up. We never stopped playing hard, and that's all you can ask for," said Buhler, who had only six players total.
Despite their leading scorer contributing just seven points, reigning MVP Sarita Jo Condie, the Mustangs had little trouble building a big first-half lead and maintaining the momentum in the second half.
The visitors led 19-2 by the end of the first quarter and 36-4 by the half.
North Tahoe played a better second half, scoring seven points in the third quarter and six in the fourth, but the talented Pershing County squad proved too tough contend with.
"We took our lumps, but we'll move on and be ready for league next week," said Buhler, whose Lakers played without sophomore center Sage Chador, who is out with an ankle injury but expected to return soon.
Sophomore guard Sara Trimm led North Tahoe with eight points, and senior point guard Liz Buhler added three points.
Pershing County's Melissa Gonzalez, a 6-foot junior center, scored a game-high 17 points, including 10 in the first quarter, while Samantha Dennier contributed 12 points and Leah Holland 10.
North Tahoe is now 5-5 overall and 1-2 against the Division III.
UP NEXT: The Lakers are scheduled to host Quincy on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. and Truckee on Friday at 6.