Gottlieb on fire, Incline basketball rolling towards No. 1 seed

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — Incline is within a whisper of clinching the top seed for 2A basketball in Northern Nevada.

In fact, if second place North Tahoe can’t win both games it plays Thursday and Saturday, the Highlanders will clinch the Northern League champion and No. 1 spot for the regional playoffs in a couple of weeks.

If the rival Lakers can get through this weekend unscathed, the Highlanders will be waiting for them at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday in Incline Village. The Highlanders are already guaranteed a first-round bye in the playoffs.

“North Tahoe has a couple of tough games coming up, but if they get past, and they’ve been finding ways to win all year, It’ll be Snowcoming Week next week and the whole place will be buzzing on Tuesday,” said Highlanders head coach Tim Kelly. “The Idea is to clinch and be done with it.”

The Highlanders had a big week, propelled by Finn Gottlieb’s scoring rampage and was highlighted by a Hall of Fame induction celebration.

Gottlieb helped Incline rise against what has been its toughest league opponent over the past few years, West Wendover.

West Wendover arrived Saturday after a long ride and maybe they should have never got off the bus.

The Highlanders blitzed them from the opening tip and led 34-6 after the first quarter.

“We came out ready to go,” Kelly said. “We get fired up when teams feel that they can play with us. Wendover likes to start fast and we wanted to take their hearts out right away. We basically told them we were the better team.”

Gottlieb scored his Incline career-high in points with 35.

He hit 12 of 22 shots and 6 of 10 from 3-point range.

All of the Highlanders were hot, including TT Valosek who had 19 points, seven rebounds and eight assists, Brody Thralls who chipped in 11 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, Tyler Knight had 10 points, five steals and five blocked shots and Brad Rye scored nine points and hauled in nine boards.

Gottlieb’s 35 points came a day after he lit up White Pine with 24 points in an 85-63 victory and two days before he went for 32 points in an 81-39 lashing of Silver Stage.

Over his last four games he is averaging over 25 points per game and he’s scored 20-plus points in five of his last six games.

Overall, he’s averaging 18.4 per game, which is second best to Valosek’s 19.9 point average.

“Guarding us is hard, you have to put your best defender on T otherwise he’s going to the cup every time,” Kelly said. “And Finn, he’s caught fire. He can flat out score, that’s what he does. He’s shooting it extremely well and has a great stroke. And that tells you how tough we are. He’s getting good looks because we are so good. He’s doing a great job of finding open spaces and his teammates are doing a great job of finding him.”

Also against Silver Stage on Tuesday, Valosek had 16 points and seven boards and Thralls had nine points, six rebounds and six assists as everybody got playing time.

At halftime Saturday against Wendover, David Parsons, Nikki Mohr and the back-to-back championship team from 1974 and 1975 were celebrated and then officially inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame at a dinner that night at The Chateau.

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