Lady Highlanders fall to White Pine in northstate 2A championship
SPARKS, Nev. — A wild first half party developed into a second half hangover that resulted in a hard-to-swallow loss.
The Incline Lady Highlanders got their large fan base excited early and stormed out to a big lead, but the advantage evaporated quickly in the second half as the determined White Pine Bobcats claimed north state 2A supremacy with a 42-36 victory at Sparks High School.
“We started really strong, we got super-hyped and then we went to the locker room and were confident that we were gonna come out and do it again,” said Incline freshman guard Elisabeth Stranzl. “But I dunno, they just got the best of us.”
Stranzl lit up the scoreboard early and got the Highlanders rolling.
The sharpshooter canned three 3-pointers in the first 3 minutes of the game. She added a fourth later in the first period as Incline jumped out to a 14-10 lead.
Stranzl benefitted from White Pine’s stingy defense on star senior Taylor Redfern. The Bobcats double-teamed and forced the ball out of Redfern’s hands and she’d find Stranzl open.
“Oh my gosh, it was such a relief,” Redfern said. “Having them lock me up, knowing I could just pass it to my teammate with all my faith and she just really pulled it off and caught fire. It really helped all of us get in the groove, especially in the first few minutes where we have a tendency to start slow.”
Stranzl hit a mid-range, pull-up jumper to start the second period and totaled 14 of incline’s first 16 points. She finished with a game-high 18 points.
The Highlanders stayed ahead of White Pine throughout the second quarter, until the last few minutes where they pulled out to a 30-16 lead at the break.
Madison Corneil hit a runner for a 27-16 lead and Redfern drained a 3-pointer right before half for the 14-point lead.
“It was the tale of two halves pretty much,” said Incline head coach Indra Winquest. “The energy, excitement and execution were there in the first half, and it really helped that Liz hit four 3s in the first quarter. Defensively, I thought we were great in the first half and we weren’t bad in the second, but you’ve gotta hand it to Eva Kingston, she just took over the game.”
Kingston scored 14 of her 16 points in the second half. She sparked a quick 7-0 run in the first 2 minutes of the third period.
The Bobcats outscored the Highlanders 18-2 in the third period and led 34-32 going into the fourth quarter.
Kingston scored six of White Pine’s eight points in the final 8 minutes.
“Kingston really took over the second half while in the first half she relied on her teammates more,” Redfern said. “They got a lot tighter on defense and we had trouble getting our ball handlers open so we couldn’t facilitate passes and move it around like we were in the first half.”
Also for Incline, Redfern finished with six points, Brooke Gutheil added nine points and Corneil had three.
The Highlanders (20-5) hopefully will get another shot at the Bobcats. That would mean they are playing for a state title.
“White Pine can be down 30 and they think they’re gonna win, Winquest said. “I’ve gotta give them a lot of credit. They find ways to win games. We know we can beat them and we dominated them in the first half. If we have our way, we’ll get them one more time in the state championship game and take care of business that time around.”
Incline, the North’s No. 2 seed, will open play in the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association State Championships at 6 p.m. Friday, March 1, against the top seed from the South, the Calvary Chapel Lions, at Eldorado High School in Las Vegas.
“We feel pretty good especially with the next few days to practice and get some rest,” Redfern said. “Then we’ll come back watch film and see where we can improve.”