Incline boys win northstate hoops title
INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — The Incline Highlanders rolled through the Northern Nevada regional basketball tournament this past weekend and will take the top seed into the state championships in Reno.
The Highlanders dominated its rival North Tahoe on Friday to open the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association 2A Basketball Championships and got past the defending state champs, West Wendover, on Saturday in Winnemucca.
“I’m really proud of our overall team effort,” said Incline Head Coach Tim Kelly. “It was a phenomenal weekend. We had so many guys step up and make plays.”
The Highlanders ended the regular season a few days before the playoffs by beating North Tahoe by more than 30 points (64-30).
In the playoff semifinals on Friday, top ranked Incline had everybody contribute in another big, 67-24, victory over the No. 4 seed.
Junior James DeMarais, the team’s sixth man, led all scorers with 21 points, all coming from beyond the arc. DeMarais hit 7 of 10 from 3-point range and holds the best shooting percentage for the Highlanders from deep at 40% (32-81).
“James was on fire and wasn’t missing, and the team kept finding him,” Kelly said.
The Highlanders buried the Lakers in 3-pointers, hitting 15 of 35 for the game, good for 45 of the team’s 67 points.
Senior Kade Martinez hit four treys and scored 12 points, Freshman Tommy Williams connected on three 3-pointers and scored 11 points. Williams added a team-high seven rebounds and dished five assists and Martinez led all with six assists and five steals.
Also for Incline (23-2), Luc Casini scored six points, Jared Hock had four, Nick Suter three and TT Valosek, Ben Rock, Andrew Bilotti and Trey Casini each scored two points.
Incline surrendered 11 first-quarter points and just 13 over the last three quarters.
In the championship game, Incline drained 12 more 3-pointers to knock off West Wendover 65-54 and claim its second straight regional crown.
Wendover took a 1-point first quarter lead (14-13) but Incline rallied to lead 31-25 at halftime and extended its lead to 48-36 heading into the final frame.
“Saturday was a blast,” Kelly said. “Anytime we see Wendover we want to play our best because we know it’s going to be a battle. The teamwork we have has me super excited for the state tournament. We’re playing a beautiful style of basketball right now.”
Williams scored a team-high 18 points, on six 3-pointers, and added five assists, five rebounds and four steals and Luc Casini hit 6 of 7 shots from inside the arc for 12 points while also grabbing a game-high 11 rebounds to lead the Highlanders. It was Casini’s first career double-double.
Martinez connected on three 3-pointers for nine points and Valosek, the defending league MVP and state Player of the Year, scored eight points, grabbed eight boards and added six assists.
The Highlanders last won the state championship in 2018-19 and will be looking for their second title in three seasons, since the pandemic forced cancellation of the 2020-21 season.
Incline will take on the No. 2 seed from the south, Democracy Preparatory Academy at Agassi Campus (20-9), at 2 p.m. Friday in the semifinals at Lawlor Events Center at the University of Nevada, Reno.
On the other side of the bracket, No. 2 West Wendover (16-8) will take on the south’s top seed, The Meadows School (22-4), at 10:40 a.m. Friday.
The championship game is set for 1 p.m. on Saturday.
“We’re hoping to be there Saturday,” Kelly said. “We just want to do what we have to to keep playing games together.”
All state tournament games can be streamed live on the NFHS Network at https://www.nfhsnetwork.com.
For those attending the tournament, tickets are $12 for adults, $5 for students (high school age and younger) and free for those 8 and under and are good for all games at a site on the given day. Tickets are available through HomeTown Ticketing or by visiting niaa.com/tickets.
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