Highlanders take down West Wendover
Things are beginning to click on the hardwood for the Incline boys’ basketball team.
The Highlanders first rolled White Pine on Friday, Jan. 12, and then topped first place, West Wendover, the following day to even their record at 3-3 in league play.
Incline opened last weekend’s play at home against a struggling White Pine squad that had lost their last four league games. The Highlanders took care of business against the Bobcats, jumping out to an early double-digit lead on their way to a 68-32 victory.
The Highlanders got a big game from junior Jackson Littleton with 20 points, which included a 4 of 10 performance from the 3-point line. Senior Will Stranzl added 15 points, and junior Mathew Cornell tallied 10 and grabbed five offensive rebounds on the night. Junior Johnny Redfern led the team with four steals.
Incline then hosted West Wendover the following day. The Wolverines entered the game tied for first place in the Class 2A Northern League standings, but Incline’s ability to go 10 players deep — rotating five at a time — wore West Wendover down in a 63-59 victory.
“We are really starting to click, and the biggest reason is we are now believing that we don’t care who gets the credit,” said Head Coach Tim Kelly in an email to the Bonanza. “Meaning, we don’t care who scores the most or is considered the star, we just want to play great basketball as a team.”
With Incline’s leading scorer, Stranzl, struggling to score in the first half with three points, the team found other ways to score, keeping pace with the Wolverines to go into halftime down 33-28.
“We challenged (Stranzl) at halftime,” Kelly said. “Our team very much follows him, and they followed him in the (third) period.”
Stranzl responded in a big way in the third period, scoring 12 points in the quarter on three, 3-pointers and a “tough pull up in the key,” according to Kelly.
The Highlanders use of two separate five-player units that rotated every three to four minutes began to wear out West Wendover in the second half. And behind Stranzl, Incline scored 22 points in the third period to take a three-point lead into the fourth quarter.
The Highlanders would hold off the Wolverines over the final eight minutes of play, limiting West Wendover to 12 points, their lowest-scoring quarter of the game.
Stranzl finished with a game-high 23 points. Junior Ian Smith also broke into double figures with 11 points.
Incline (6-11, 3-3 Northern League) will now prepare for their biggest game of the season thus far when the team hosts first place, Battle Mountain (16-3, 6-1 Northern League) on Friday, Jan 19, at 6 p.m. The Highlanders lost 53-50 at Battle Mountain in the team’s second league contest of the season.
“We knocked (West Wendover) out of first and now we have a chance to knock Battle Mountain out of first on Friday,” Kelly said. “We are very excited about how we are playing right now.”