Highlanders take Warriors to the boards
INCLINE VILLAGE – Incline High didn’t need its first shot to drop through the net. In fact, the Highlanders didn’t even need their second and third attempts of each possession to go in the basket.
The Highlanders made up for an off-shooting night by crashing the boards for multiple opportunities in a 45-27 Northern 2A League girls’ basketball win against Whittell on Wednesday.
“Brutal,” said Whittell coach Tom Esposito. “If they get four or five putbacks, it’s almost impossible (to stop them).”
Whittell, which was pursuing its first league win, was hurt by not having senior center Isabel Concha-Foley on the court for most of the second quarter because of foul trouble.
Incline’s rebounding by committee led to 16 offensive boards and eight different scorers, including 10 points each by Kelli Cherry and Tori McCunn. McCunn helped the Highlanders to an early lead by converting a rebound basket and scoring off a steal within a 10-second span.
Whittell, however, closed to within 12-10 when senior point guard Gabriella Tracy popped in a three-point basket from the top of the key as time expired in the first period.
Concha-Foley, who has been a consistent double-double producer for the Warriors, picked up her second foul 77 seconds into the second period, and Esposito decided to sit her for the remainder of the half. Even though the Warriors only second-quarter buckets were by Tracy and Amanda Harris – the latter on an eight-foot hook shot – the Highlanders didn’t pull away. Whittell’s box-and-one and 1-2-2 zone defenses kept Incline in check as the Highlanders led 23-14 at the break.
“It was a little frustrating (in the second period) that we couldn’t convert on the shots, but sometimes that happens,” said Incline coach Bill Devine. “I try not to get too caught up in the score. I thought we were running our offense real well.”
Incline began to pull away late in the third quarter when Lauren Wilson sank a three-pointer with :06 remaining for a 33-21 lead.
Concha-Foley, who led Whittell with 10 points and 11 rebounds, consistently faced double and triple teams in the low post.
“We know how good she was (last year). She is a heck of an athlete,” Devine said. “We knew she was probably the focus of their offense, so we just tried to put as much pressure on her as we could.”
Tracy scored eight of her nine points in the first half.
Incline raised its league record to 4-2.
“Being at four wins right now is pretty good,” Devine said. “We feel to be solid into the playoffs, which is our first goal, we probably need four wins, but five can do it for sure.”
Whittell slipped to 0-5 in league and saw its chances of qualifying for the postseason continue to shrink.
“Our biggest problem is the lineup,” Esposito said. “We haven’t had the same lineup all year. It’s hard to get organized, timing down and (learn) game situations.”