Shorthanded Highlanders nearly top Battle Mountain | SierraSun.com

Shorthanded Highlanders nearly top Battle Mountain

The Incline boys' basketball team came into their road game against one of the Class 2A Northern League's top teams on Saturday, Dec. 16, without a pair of key players.

The Highlanders would play without senior leading scorer Will Stranzl and junior big man Liam Nolan-Bowers, but still gave the Longhorns all they could handle in a 53-50 defeat.

"We jumped on them early with hot 3-point shooting and some great finishes at the rim," said Head Coach Tim Kelly in an email to the Bonanza. "Our match-up zone defense really threw them off in the first quarter, where we took away their strengths."

The Highlanders (2-6, 0-2 Northern League) would hold a 21-7 lead after the first quarter, but Battle Mountain (11-2, 2-0 Northern League) fought back to cut the lead to two points by halftime.

The Highlanders would struggle in the third quarter, according to Kelly, and allowed the Longhorns to gain an eight-point advantage.

Incline fought back to get within a possession, but was unable to get over the hump down the stretch. The team would trail by three points in the final seconds, and had a pair of opportunities to tie the game, but couldn't get either to go down.

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"I felt like we played great, especially without Will and Liam, but we just couldn't quite get it done," Kelly said.

Neither team shot the ball particularly well during the game with each team connecting on 37 percent of their attempts. Battle Mountain also benefited from a 13-6 advantage on the offensive glass.

Junior Ian Smith led Incline with 19 points and 10 rebounds.

Junior Jackson Littleton was next for the team with 11 points, followed by freshman Zach Pexa and junior Mathew Cornell with eight points apiece. Cornell pulled down a team-high 11 rebounds. Junior Johnny Redfern rounded out the scoring with four points.

The Highlanders will next take a break from league play with a contest on Wednesday, Dec. 20, against De Anza (results not available at time of press).

Incline will then face Coral Academy of Science – Reno at home the following day at 4 p.m.