Incline girls grab big lead, hold off league-leading, defending state champ White Pine
INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — Boom! Take that!
After suffering a handful of agonizing defeats to White Pine over the past few seasons, Incline gave a little back Friday night.
The Lady Highlanders swarmed, suffocated, and then held off a ferocious late rally to knock off the Northern League leading, and defending 2A state champion, Bobcats 36-33 in Incline Village.
“We were ready for sure,” said Highlanders head coach Indra Winquest. “We came out and, literally, I don’t think they knew what hit them.”
Incline clamped down on White Pine’s two best players and squeezed them out of the paint.
The Highlanders limited White Pine to five points in the first period, just two in the second eight minutes and four points in the third quarter.
But Incline wasn’t burning the twine with made shots either in the first half. The Highlanders led 9-5 after the first period, 14-7 at halftime before pulling away to enter the final frame up 28-11.
“Some of their possessions were one to two minutes long because they couldn’t get a shot up,” Winquest said. “Both teams were really good defensively, but we had a few more offensive weapons. We dominated them for three quarters. They had no answers and they made adjustments.”
The two best players in the league, Incline’s Taylor Redfern and White Pine’s Eva Kingston battled head-to-head.
Redfern took on the challenge of guarding Kingston and also produced a team-high 12 points.
‘Tay did a phenomenal job guarding Eva,” Winquest said. “When she would drive, we would send help and we pretty much kept her from getting to the rim. We forced her into some turnovers. I’m really proud of Tay. It was a challenge to guard the other best player in the league, and then she was face-guarded the entire game on offense and she battled through it all.”
Incline’s defense has been leading the charge during the teams six-game win streak. Opponents are averaging just 19.6 points per game during that span.
The Highlanders made 12 steals Friday night and freshman Elisbeth Stranzl led the way with six, while also adding 10 points, including two 3-pointers.
Incline’s trio down low of freshman Brooke Gutheil, Serena Faulkner and Carolyn Eppolito all rotated and took turns guarding White Pine senior center Madison Rick and made her mostly invisible in the Bobcats offense.
Gutheil recorded a career-high seven of Incline’s 10 blocked shots. Gutheil and Faulkner each pulled down six rebounds to lead Incline.
“On defense, we feel like if we can keep our opponents under 35 points per game, we’re gonna win,” Winquest said. “Our goal was to try and keep them under 30 and we almost did.”
But in the fourth quarter, Kingston started heaving 3-point attempts form all over the court and a few found the mark.
“Kingston had like 3 points going into the fourth quarter, but then she threw up some wild 3s and made a couple off the glass from NBA range and she also nailed a legit 3 and they started coming back,” Winquest said. “We made a couple of mistakes, they made a run and it got a little scary at the end. We can never let up on them. They’re tough, confident and experienced.”
Incline (16-2, 10-1 Northern) plays Silver Stage (7-8, 4-7 Northern) at 6 p.m. Tuesday and Battle Mountain (15-6, 8-4) at the same time Thursday.
Winquest is expecting another “war” when Battle Mountain rolls into town just like Friday against White Pine.
But Winquest said if the girls play with that same intensity, nobody again will beat them this year.
“Our effort was so intense, I told the girls if we play like that every game, there is nobody that can beat us,” Winquest said. “Battle Mountain is a really big game. If we get that win, that really sets us up to control our own destiny.”