Incline boys fall in state championship
RENO, Nev. — Incline Village’s TT Valosek was the last player to leave the locker room Saturday.
The Highlanders had just suffered a 63-44 loss to The Meadows School in the state 2A championship game and there was no celebration, just respect and appreciation for what the team has accomplished the last three seasons.
“I’ve been on three teams in three years, all very different teams, they’ve all been awesome and all made it to the state title game, and I had the pleasure of winning one of them. It has been an awesome career,” Valosek said from the locker room at the home of the Nevada Wolfpack, Lawlor Events Center.
Valosek was the league’s most valuable player every year since he was a freshman and was the two-time state player of the year and was offensive player of the year as a senior.
“I can’t say I’m not going to miss TT. As a person I’ll miss him,” said Kelly, who praised all of his “warrior” seniors that helped the team reach such a high level. “TT just played in his third straight title game.”
The game didn’t go how Valosek or Kelly thought, especially in the second half.
Incline started fast with senior Kade Martinez draining two straight 3-pointers from the baseline to start the game and give Incline a 6-2 lead. Freshman Tommy Williams added two free throws and the Highlanders led 8-2 just 3 minutes into the game.
But The Meadows rallied for a 12-10 lead after the first quarter.
Valosek drained a 3-pointer to start the second period to give Incline a 13-12 advantage, but that would be the Highlanders last time in front. The Meadows led 22-17 at halftime.
Incine stayed close for much of the third period, but a 10-3 run in the last couple of minutes gave The Meadows a 39-29 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
“I thought the first 20 minutes was exactly what the whole 32 would be,” Kelly said. “We walked into the gym knowing we were the two best teams in the state. We were very comparable and we really thought it would come down to a 3-4 point game. I thought that was it, the way it should be. And then their best player made some big plays and you have to tip your hat to them, they made big plays and they beat us. I can take getting beat. They are a very good basketball team.”
“We just got beat,” Valosek said. “There wasn’t anything we can put the blame on. They ran a different look defense that we hadn’t seen before and they were pretty big so it kinda threw us off.”
Once The Meadows built a 10-point advantage, they worked the clock.
With no shot clock in Nevada, The Meadows milked 45 second soff the clock to start the final period before turning it over.
“They are extremely well coaxed,” Kelly said. “They saw the game yesterday (Friday, semifinal win) and learned a really good lesson — we weren’t going to come out and chase. And they showed us a group of high school kids can be patient. They made us work defensively. I think the first possession in the fourth quarter they had where they double-dribbled, but they took 45 seconds off the clock. And if they didn’t double dribble, they probably would have milked the clock for more than a minute. I knew I had to do something and figure it out.”
Kelly had his Highlanders apply a full court press and he substituted five players at a time every couple of trips down the floor to try and keep them rested.
The Meadows scored the first five points of the quarter and Incline never got closer than 13 pints the rest of the way.
Valosek led the way for Incline (25-3) with 15 points and six rebounds, Martinez and James DeMarais added nine points apiece, Tommy Williams scored eight points and Dylan Combs hit a long 3-pointer at the final buzzer.
“We’re the three time defending regional champs,” Kelly said. “If you’re gonna walk out of this gym mad because we got a small trophy, something is wrong with you. I’ll take this year over last year every day of the week. This is going to go into our trophy case. We’re really proud.”
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