Incline basketball: Boys earn ‘gigantic’ comeback win; girls drop two | SierraSun.com

Incline basketball: Boys earn ‘gigantic’ comeback win; girls drop two

Staff report

The Incline boys remain in the thick of the playoff hunt thanks to a thrilling comeback victory on the road Saturday.

Coming off a 22-point loss at West Wendover on Friday night, the Highlanders battled back from an eight-point deficit with 4 minutes remaining at Battle Mountain to force overtime. Incline then outscored the hosts 13-6 in the overtime period to pull off the 58-51 win.

"It was probably the most exciting game and greatest comeback I've ever been a part of in my coaching career," said Incline coach Tim Kelly. "It was a gigantic win. I'm really proud of our guys."

Entering Wednesday's makeup game at home against Yerington — the only remaining undefeated team in the Northern Division III, at 6-0 — Incline sat in third place in the league standings with a 4-3 record. Pershing County is second at 5-2, while West Wendover and Battle Mountain are just behind Incline at 4-4, and North Tahoe is 2-6. The top four teams qualify for the regional championship tournament in February.

"It's going to be a fun last five games," Kelly said. "We control our destiny."

Incline trailed for much of Saturday's contest. The Longhorns jumped out to an 11-4 lead after one quarter before the Highlanders enjoyed a brief 23-21 advantage at the half. Feeding off the energy of a big home crowd, Battle Mountain outscored Incline 13-4 in the third to carry a 34-27 lead into the final frame.

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The Highlanders cut an eight-point lead to five with 40 seconds left in regulation when Incline's bench was called for a technical foul. Fortunately for the Highlanders, the hosts missed both ends of the ensuing free throws, and Incline senior guard Joey Stranzl responded with a clutch three-pointer to shave the lead to two.

Kelly said he thought the game was over after Incline turned the ball over, but the Longhorns returned the favor with a turnover of their own, which resulted in a game-tying layup with 7 seconds remaining by senior guard Tanner Quenneville.

Incline controlled the overtime period to escape with the win.

"If we lose that game, we're in sixth place, and now we're in third place. That game saved us. It was huge. We could have easily folded after losing at West Wendover," Kelly said.

The Highlanders received a strong effort from their big three, with Quenneville and Jon Cromer scoring 15 points apiece and Stranzl adding 14. Cromer and Blake Perry each had eight rebounds, and Stranzle was 3-for-5 from three-point range.

"When we have our three leading scorers in double-digits, we're tough to beat," Kelly said.

Battle Mountain senior guard Blake Dorian — the leading scorer in the Northern DIII at 18.1 points a game — led all scorers with 23 points, including five three-pointers on 10 attempts.

On Friday, Kelly said his team was simply outplayed at West Wendover, a team that Incline beat 71-62 at home on Dec. 18.

Junior forward Zade Elton — who ranks second in scoring behind Dorian in the Northern DIII, averaging 17.2 points a game — posted a game-high 23 points.

Quenneville scored 22 on 9-of-13 shooting, and Perry had eight rebounds. Quenneville is the third-leading scorer in the league, at 16.2 points a game.

Girls feel Porter's absence

Incline's girls struggled on the road without senior leader Kira Porter, who sat out both games with a groin injury. The Highlanders suffered their first two defeats in league play, falling 63-48 at West Wendover and 51-33 at Battle Mountain.

"We expect Kira to play (Wednesday) night against Yerington. We just didn't want to risk her playing out there; she's too important," Incline coach Indra Winquest said of Porter, who ranks first in the state with 6.5 blocks per game, first in the league with 11.8 rebounds a game and second in the league with an 11-point average. "She's the MVP of our league, and so it was tough to go out there and play two legitimate teams without her."

Despite the losses, Incline is in second place in the Northern DIII standings with a 6-2 record. West Wendover shares Incline's 6-2 record but owns the tiebreaker by virtue of winning the second meeting (the Highlanders defeated the Wolverines 57-37 at home last month). Yerington is in third at 4-2 and is followed by Battle Mountain at 5-3 and Pershing County at 4-3.

The Highlanders got off to a slow start against West Wendover and never recovered. The Wolverines led 18-2 by the end of the first quarter and 35-11 by the half. Incline outscored the hosts in the third and fourth quarters but could not overcome the large deficit.

"We were lethargic in the first half and just could not hit anything, and they hit everything," Winquest said. "We woke up in the second half, but we dug ourselves too deep a hole to come back."

Freshman guard Taylor Redfern scored a game-high 19 points, while senior point guard Briana Barraza attacked the rim and finished with eight points. Winquest said junior Harmony Bates also played "an awesome game." For the Wolverines, junior Sydney Reamer led the way with 18 points.

The Longhorns, who played the Highlanders tough early in the first meeting before Incline pulled away for a 40-27 win, took advantage of Porter's absence on Saturday. They used a box-and-one defense, with one player sticking to Redfern and the other four in a zone. They held Redfern scoreless as a result.

Bates had another strong game with 15 points, and Barraza added eight. Freshman Grace Melver led the Longhorns with 15 points.

Northern Division III standings

Boys

Yerington 6-0

Pershing County 5-2

Incline 4-3

West Wendover 4-4

Battle Mountain 4-4

North Tahoe 2-6

Silver Stage 0-6

Girls

West Wendover 6-2

Incline 6-2

Yerington 4-2

Battle Mountain 5-3

Pershing County 4-3

Silver Stage 1-5

North Tahoe 0-8

Up next

Incline is scheduled to host makeup games against Yerington on Wednesday, with the girls tipping off at 6 p.m. and the boys at 7:30. The Highlanders then travel to North Tahoe on Friday (same game times) and host Pershing County on Feb. 5.