Incline basketball | Girls, boys hold off tough Pershing County squads
Northern Division III standings
West Wendover 10-0
Battle Mountain 6-4
North Tahoe 4-4
White Pine 5-5
Pershing County 4-5
Silver Stage 0-9
White Pine 7-2
Pershing County 6-2
Battle Mountain 5-3
Silver Stage 2-6
North Tahoe 1-6
West Wendover 0-9
This time, the Pershing County girls were ready for first-place Incline.
After defeating traditional power Pershing County by 22 points at home in the teams’ first meeting, Incline had to fend off a fourth-quarter comeback at the Mustangs’ house on Saturday to hang on for a hard-fought, 34-33 win.
Incline has now handed Pershing County (6-2) its only two league losses.
“It was quite a game,” said Incline coach Indra Winquest, whose Highlanders improved to 8-0 in Division III play and 17-1 overall. “It was really intense and a very defensive game. I give them (the Mustangs) a lot of credit. They were prepared for us after seeing us play the first time around.”
While both teams played tight defense throughout, pressing full court, the Highlanders were particularly strong through three quarters. They led 32-20 at the start of the fourth.
Pershing County picked up its intensity in the final frame, however, outscoring Incline 13-2 to pull to within the one-point final margin.
“In the fourth quarter we got a little bit tight, and they upped their energy,” Winquest said, adding that the Pershing County gym was so loud that his players could barely hear him holler instructions during timeouts. “We haven’t played in enough big games like they have. They are a little more battle-tested. But in the end we held them off. Our defense never let up.”
In fact, after the Mustangs cut the lead to one, the Highlanders held them scoreless their final four possessions to preserve the win.
Winquest said forwards Kerrie Tonking and Kira Porter played particularly well on defense, holding Pershing County’s leading scorer, senior forward Melissa Gonzalez, to 12 points.
Incline guard Torii Baker and Elise Nelson also had solid defensive games, the coach said, while Kortney Solis came up big on offense with nine points on three 3-pointers, and Molly Franklin drove the ball aggressively and finished with nine points. Caroline May also hit a key 3-pointer.
The Highlanders ran their win streak to 14 straight, dating back to their only loss against Division I Galena on Dec. 6. Pershing County is 18-3 overall.
Boys challenged in win
Incline’s boys followed with a 53-44 win — which was closer than the final score indicates, said Incline coach Tim Kelly.
The Highlanders (7-2) led 14-9 after one quarter and 27-19 at the half. But Pershing County (4-5), which is fighting for a playoff spot, scored 15 points to Incline’s 10 in the third to shave the lead to 37-34 by the end of the third quarter.
The Mustangs took a two-point lead in the fourth quarter before Incline regained the lead again on a big 3-pointer from the top of the key by Jack Clouthier and another 3 by Dylan Comstock from the corner.
“That gave us some breathing room,” Kelly said. “I’m really proud of our guys. They really had to fight for it. Pershing County played really well — really shot it well. We had to make some plays and hit some shots.”
Incline got the job done without junior starting point guard Alex Zissis, who missed his second straight game with an injury (he’s expected to return Friday), as well as junior Matt Hanna, who is no longer on the team after recently transferring to a prep school in Pennsylvania.
Senior guard Orin Porter was nearly unstoppable, as he scored 26 points on 10-of-14 shooting from the field. He made two of his three 3-point attempts and finished with five steals.
“Orin stepped up and showed that he is our key guy. It’s nice to have a guy who can go for 26,” said Kelly, adding that Porter, aside from hitting big shots and making key plays, managed to keep his cool after a hard intentional foul and when the Mustangs tried to entice him into making bad decisions.
Tommy Thompson added seven points, Clouthier six, and Jack Bessette and Comstock five apiece. Jared Binkerhoff led Pershing County with 11 points.
Incline is scheduled to host West Wendover on Friday, girls at 6 p.m.and boys at 7:30, and White Pine on Saturday, girls at 2 p.m. and boys at 3:30. The West Wendover boys, which are undefeated in league play, at 10-0, recently scored 97 points in a win over White Pine and defeated Incline 74-67 on Jan. 3. The White Pine girls are in second place at 7-2 in league.
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