Incline basketball | Boys win pair of big home games |

Incline basketball | Boys win pair of big home games

Staff report
Senior guard Tommy Thompson was Incline's Player of the Game in the Highlanders' 76-74 win over West Wendover on Friday. Thompson scored 29 points on seven 3-pointers.
Sylas Wright / North Lake Tahoe Bonanza |

Incline’s boys opened the second half of league play on a positive note, defeating West Wendover 76-74 on Friday and Battle Mountain 68-60 on Saturday.

The Highlanders (8-1 league, 16-4 overall) were put to the test by a hot-shooting West Wendover (4-5, 7-13). Had senior guard Tommy Thompson not caught fire from the field, the Wolverines might have dealt the Highlanders their first home loss of the season.

As it played out, Thompson’s 29 points on seven 3-pointers proved crucial. Thompson hit two clutch 3s in the fourth quarter, including one that extended Incline’s lead from one to four.

Incline got off to a sluggish start, falling behind 25-14 by the end of the first quarter before rebounding to cut the deficit to 38-34 by the half. An evenly played third quarter left Incline trailing 60-57 entering the fourth. Up by two points late, the Highlanders turned the ball over with 10 second on the clock, but they escaped with the win when a final shot by Wolverines rimmed out.

“Our motto is ‘survive us for four,’ and I thought we did a great job of staying composed and understanding that games are won in the fourth quarter,” said Incline coach Tim Kelly. “As bad as we played defensively, allowing layups and offensive rebounds, I was really proud of how we finished. We finished like champions. We are a very courageous group and they showed it against a good team.”

Jack Clouthier finished with 16 points, Jack Bessette added 12 points and Alex Zissis had 10. For the Wolverines, Luis Correa led the way with 20 points, while Yovany Marin scored 16.

Saturday featured two 7-1 teams going head-to-head for the top spot in the league. The Highlanders came out fired up for their Hall of Fame game, which honored three Incline alumni during a halftime ceremony — coach Rollie Hess, Mike Williams and Grant Robinson.

The contest remained close throughout the first half, with the Highlanders leading 15-13 at the end of the first quarter and 32-28 at the half. Incline took control in the third, outscoring the Longhorns 18-5.

“The third quarter was really a showcase of how good our guys are when they fly around defensively,” Kelly said. “We came out of halftime and played some of our best basketball.”

Kelly said senior forward Ben Snyder played solid defense on Battle Mountain’s 6-7 post, Breven Engelson, holding him to 15 points of 4-of-7 shooting. Incline’s guards also stepped up to the challenge, creating turnovers while limiting the Longhorns with contested shots.

Senior Cole Steinberg, typically a forward, played well on the wing and finished with 14 points, including two 3-pointers. Thompson and Zissis scored 13 and 11, respectively, and Bessette did a fine job handling the point after Thompson and Zissis got into foul trouble, Kelly said.

The Highlanders will host a crucial league contest Friday against Yerington, which comes in with the same 8-1 league record and defeated Incline 82-69 in the teams’ first meeting. The 7:30 p.m. game is a “whiteout,” in which home fans will wear white shirts.

“We are very excited for this challenge and to redeem ourselves for our earlier effort at Yerington,” Kelly said. “It’s going to be a fun night on Friday.”

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