Highlanders basketball closes out 2017 in San Diego | SierraSun.com

Highlanders basketball closes out 2017 in San Diego

Justin Scacco | jscacco@sierrasun.com

After a combined 0-4 start to Class 2A Northern League play, Incline's basketball teams have traded snow for surf during Christmas break with a trip to San Diego as each team looks to build toward a push into league contention in the new year.

Both teams are currently participating in the four-day So Cal Holiday Prep Classic. The 13th annual tournament is the largest in-season high school girls' basketball tournament in the west, according to the tournament's website, featuring more than 70 teams and often including nationally ranked squads.

The tournament is broken into nine divisions of teams with the Lady Highlanders slotted to face off against 11 other squads in the FIBA Division.

This season marks the first time Incline has entered the So Cal Holiday Prep Classic.

"We're going to get some really stiff competition, so I'm hoping they step up," said Head Coach Indra Winquest. "We're going to have to play fast, because there are some quality teams down here. We're hoping to pick up the pace a little bit and get a better understanding of who's playing well together."

Incline is currently 4-3 overall, and 0-2 in league. Junior Taylor Redfern has led the Highlanders at 16.6 points

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per game thus far, and has knocked down 24 of 64 attempts on 3-pointers during the season.

Sophomores Sami Giangreco and Madison Corneil are next in scoring for Incline, and combine for 14.3 points per contest; while junior Chandler Cohn leads the team on the glass with 4.4 rebounds per game. Giangreco is coming off her best game of the season, an 18-point performance against Battle Mountain on Dec. 16.

Incline opened tournament play against San Diego's Patrick Henry High School (3-3) on Wednesday, Dec. 27 (results not available at time of press).

The Highlanders then continue tournament games the following day against Carlsbad High School (5-2). Teams will then be seeded after that for further contests on Friday, Dec. 28, and Saturday Dec. 29.

Boys

The Incline boys are also making the trip to San Diego to participate in the So Cal Holiday Classic's smaller boys' tournament. The tournament began 12 years ago with eight girls' teams, but has since grown to include a 12-team boys' bracket.

While the Highlanders' 0-2 record in league play isn't the start the team had hoped for, Head Coach Tim Kelly isn't dwelling on early season losses against two of the league's best in Pershing County and Battle Mountain.

"It's more a celebration of six amazing years with these guys," said Kelly on the trip to San Diego. "We felt like doing something special with this group because it's been an amazing journey of six years."

Kelly has been coaching Incline's core group of juniors and senior leading scorer Will Stranzl since the players were in middle school.

Most recently the Highlanders fell in a tight contest to one of the top teams out of the Class 2A Northern League in Battle Mountain, but Incline was without two of their top players in Stranzl, and junior Liam Nolan-Bowers.

The Highlanders will return Stranzl for the So Cal Holiday Classic, but will still be without Nolan-Bowers and another player, junior Parker Fontecchio, who went down with an ankle injury during practice. The team has pulled up junior varsity point guard sophomore Tyler Knight for the tournament.

"He's a (6-foot, 1.5-inch) athlete," said Kelly. "We're going to see if he can help us and make us deeper."

Incline opened tournament play on Wednesday, Dec. 27, against Mission Vista (0-8), and then will face Brawley (7-4) the following day. Incline will then have games on Friday, Dec. 29, and Saturday, Dec. 30.

"My expectations are still high," said Kelly. "I still think we're right on track to achieve the goals we want to achieve."