Highlander boys catch fire after alarm goes off
INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — The Highlanders caught fire after the alarm was triggered.
Following a nearly 30-minute delay Tuesday night for a busy popcorn machine that forced a full gymnasium of fans outside while the North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District investigated, Incline broke open a tie game and blazed past rival North Tahoe for a 64-35 Northern League victory.
The Highlanders and Lakers were tied at 2 just 3 minutes and 10 seconds into the game when strobe lights began flashing accompanied by a high pitch, eardrum-straining alarm.
Fans immediately began to leave the stands and head outside. The Highlanders went to their locker room while the Lakers remained just inside the gymnasium, but right next to an exit.
“Usually it is popcorn from the concession stand,” said Highlanders head coach Tim Kelly. “It’s happened one other time. But it didn’t stop the crowd from being super inspired.”
The delay interrupted an intense opening few minutes. Competition was fierce, but shots weren’t falling.
Following the alarm break, Incline finished the first quarter on a 12-4 run.
Incline senior co-captain Ian Smith drained a 3-pointer to give Incline the lead for good, 5-2.
Late in the first quarter, North Tahoe’s Cameron McAndrews hit a 3-point bomb to momentarily stop Incline’s run, making it 11-6 but Incline freshman Brody Thralls countered from deep to end the period.
“I was excited about how we handled their energy,” Kelly said. “They came out like it was the Super Bowl. And that’s the way it should be when you’re trying to get a win. We were the favorites, they were the underdogs, and they came out with a lot of energy. They were well coached, prepared and I was really happy how we took their first round barrage.”
Smith led the charge in the second period. He scorched the net for seven of his game-high 15 points as Incline grabbed control, 37-18, at halftime. He also dished a game-high six assists and made four steals.
Smith scored seven of Incline’s last nine points leading up to intermission.
“Ian Smith, that was the quietest 15 in the universe, he played beautifully,” Kelly said.
Smith loves playing against North Tahoe and the atmosphere it creates whether playing in Tahoe City or Incline.
“Everyone in the whole town comes out to watch, it’s so much fun,” Smith said. “I’m really happy with how it turned out. We played hard. This is our biggest rival, I’m glad we got it done.”
While Incline put up 64 points, it was suffocating defense spurred by sophomore Brad Rye that limited the Lakers to 11 field goals. Incline had 12 field goals alone in the first half, including five 3-pointers.
“The key was Brad Rye,” Kelly said. “The game changed as soon as he came in. He guarded three different guys on one possession. He was there-to-there-to-there. His intensity changed the game because everyone behind him saw that.”
“Our goal every game, is to hold them to the lowest points possible,” Smith said. “Our offense comes from our defense. If we play good defense our offense comes to us.”
For Incline, Tyler Knight scored 11 points, grabbed six rebounds and made four steals, both team highs, freshman TT Valosek scored eight, Thralls finished with seven, Parker Fontecchio and Liam Nolan-Bowers netted six points, Johnny Redfern had four and Matthew Cornell had a bucket.
McAndrews led North Tahoe with 10 points while Ben Trujillo had six, John Zapata and Lucas Valois each had five and Ricardo Martinez had three.
Incline (12-6, 6-1 2A Northern League) bounced back from its lone league loss (56-50) on Saturday at West Wendover (12-3, 6-0 Northern).
“I’m proud of the guys for how we bounced back,” Smith said. “It was a good way to respond. It shows a lot about the team.”
Incline next will host Pershing County (2-12, 1-5 Northern) Friday and will finish its three-game home stand Tuesday, Jan. 15, against Yerington (10-7, 5-1 Northern).
North Tahoe (9-6, 3-4 Northern) plays at Pershing on Saturday and will host Silver Stage (7-3, 4-2 Northern) on Wednesday, Jan. 15.
“We have a really great team that cares about our team,” Kelly said. “I’m really happy. We have one game left and we’ll be one game out through the first half (of league season).”
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INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — Incline Village has played in two consecutive state championship basketball games, winning once, but entering this season the Highlanders have just one player with any varsity experience.