INCLINE VILLAGE — Battle Mountain is no pushover, which makes Incline’s 76-38 drubbing on Saturday that much more impressive.
“Battle Mountain is a good team. They were missing their best player, but still, to beat them by 38 is pretty good,” said Incline coach Tim Kelly, whose boys opened Division III league play with a 60-35 win over Pershing County the night before.
“The biggest thing that I’m excited about us is that we played extra hard the last two nights. I’m happy we went hard for eight quarters. That’s a great Christmas present for me.”
The Longhorns, playing without leading scorer Blake Dorian, who averages better than 18 points a game, hung with the Highlanders early.
Senior center Jake Johnson put back an offensive rebound to give Battle Mountain its last lead at 9-8. Incline senior Orin Porter answered with a two-handed dunk on a fast break the next time down the floor — one of his two dunks in the game — and the Highlanders never looked back.
Incline outscored the visitors 10-2 to close out the quarter with a 20-11 lead. By half, it was 40-15. After three quarters, 59-29.
The Highlanders achieved the rout the way Kelly likes — by getting out and running the floor with quickness and energy, and by putting the ball in the basket. They had numerous uncontested layups, while four different players scored in double figures.
“I thought we did a really good job,” Porter said. “Coach had a good pregame talk, and we did what we needed to do.”
Junior forward Ben Snyder was a beast in the paint, clearing space with his bulky frame and controlling the boards en route to a game-high 19 points.
“Ben had an extremely good game. He’s really improved,” Kelly said of his big man.”With him giving us an inside presence, we have a whole different dynamic.”
Junior guard Tommy Thompson came off the bench to score 16 points on four 3-pointers, while Porter and junior Matt Hanna, both of whom slashed to the bucket nearly at will, contributed 14 and 13 points, respectively. Senior Christian Biscotti added seven points.
Dominic Valles and Worth Nelson scored 15 points apiece to lead the Longhorns, and Daniel Itza had seven.
Incline improved to 9-3 overall and 2-0 in league, while Battle Mountain, a 52-37 winner over North Tahoe on Friday, fell to 8-3 overall and 1-1 in league.
Against Pershing County on Friday, Incline jumped on the Mustangs from the onset, outscoring the visitors 13-1 in the first quarter. After an even second quarter, the Highlanders outscored the Mustangs 14-8 in the third quarter and 18-11 in the fourth to pull away.
“I think (the league wins) give us a boost, but we still have a lot of things to work on,” said Snyder, who considered Saturday’s performance one of Incline’s best of the season. “We have gaps in our defense and our offense could still be better. But we’re doing well. We’re getting there.”