Lakers coast past Whittell
Fresh off a four-game road trip, the North Tahoe girls basketball team wasn’t jumping out of gym against Whittell on Tuesday.
Though lacking their normal fire, the Lakers’ methodical effort was still enough to defeat the Warriors, 32-18, in a subdued game.
The Northern 2A league win guaranteed the Lakers a third seed entering postseason play and brought their league record to 5-4.
For North Tahoe coach Scott Conn, the win was not as important individually as it was a bearing on his team’s successful league season.
“This is the first time I can remember that the Laker girls have ever beat Whittell twice in one season, or placed third or better in the league,” Conn said. “Our young team is making history as they go along this season.”
The first quarter of play found both teams stretching out and trying to find the net. Turnovers and missed opportunities plagued the Lakers, and the Warriors took the lead as the quarter closed, going up 8-7.
Dribbling into the second quarter, the Lakers got their blood moving and picked up the pace. North Tahoe shots started dropping, while the Laker defense stymied Whittell’s scoring efforts. The game went to the half with the Lakers ahead 18-12.
The second half continued much like first, as the North Tahoe defense held the game in control while their offense searched for accuracy. Neither team really found a rhythm, however, and scoring was minimal. At the end of the third the Lakers had increased their lead to nine points, 25-16.
The last eight minutes of play the Laker defense showed a bit more playoff potential, holding the Warriors to a single basket. Offensively, North Tahoe shots still fell in spurts, but their seven fourth quarter points bumped up the margin to 14 by the final whistle.
North Tahoe senior Kelly Hester led the scorers with eight points.
After the game, Conn gave credit to Whittell’s tenacity.
“Whittell’s defense forced a lot of turnovers and difficult shots,” Conn said. “We had over 20 turnovers.”
Looking beyond the win, the Lakers have just one more league game ” Friday at home against Mineral County ” before entering the 2A playoffs Feb. 15.
Conn sees Friday’s last home game as the Lakers’ first “playoff” game.
“We’ll treat Friday’s game as a playoff game because we want to get into the playoff spirit,” the coach said. “Mineral County will give us a real run for our money, as they beat us last time we met this season.”
In the postseason, the third-seeded Lakers will face the No. 2 seed, which will be either Lovelock (7-1) or Battle Mountain (7-1).
Preparing for that day, Conn is looking to crank up his team’s full-court competitive spirit.
“Entering the playoffs we need to step up our speed, aggressiveness and especially our defense,” Conn said. “To be successful we’ll have to bring our game up one more notch.”