Incline basketball: Girls earn regional title, No. 1 state seed
Girls DIII state championship
White Pine (No. 1 South) vs. West Wendover (No. 2 North), Friday, 11 a.m.
Incline (No. 1 North) vs. Agassi Prep (No. 2 South), Friday, 2:20 p.m.
Semifinal winners, Saturday, 11 a.m.
The last time the Incline girls played at Lawlor Events Center — March 1, 2014 — they hoisted a state championship trophy over their heads.
The Highlanders will look to duplicate the feat at the same venue after winning the Northern Division III regional title in West Wendover on Saturday.
Incline, which entered the four-team tournament as the top seed, defeated second-seeded West Wendover 41-39 in the Wolverines’ home gym to earn the regional crown and No. 1 Northern seed in the state championship.
“It was a tough game,” Incline coach Indra Winquest said of the regional final. “We played well enough to get the win. West Wendover played well too, and they were at home, so we definitely were pleased to walk out of there with the regional title and that one seed.”
The Highlanders routed fourth-seeded Battle Mountain 54-34 in the semifinal round Friday night.
Incline will now open the state championship tournament with a semifinal matchup against Agassi Prep, the No. 2 Southern seed, on Friday at 2:20 p.m. The winner will face either White Pine, the top Southern seed, or West Wendover in the state title game Saturday.
The regional championship was well-earned with clutch play in crunch time, as Incline trailed 31-27 at the end of the third quarter before outscoring the Wolverines 14-8 in the fourth. Incline held a single-digit lead for much of the first half but went into the break trailing by two, 24-22.
Incline freshman Taylor Redfern had the hot shooting hand from outside, going 5-of-9 on three-point attempts and finishing with a game-high 15 points. Winquest said several of Redfern’s threes came in the second half, including a deep ball from the corner that gave Incline a 39-34 lead with about two minutes remaining.
While Redfern slashed the net from range, Winquest said junior small forward Harmony Bates, who finished with 10 points and five rebounds, made a significant impact on both ends of the floor.
“Harmony came up the biggest of all our players. She was aggressive attacking their zone defense with drives to the rim. She also played good defense and was active and fighting through screens,” Winquest said.
Despite being double-teamed the entire game, senior forward Kira Porter posted six points, 10 rebounds, seven blocks and three assists, while senior point guard Briana Barraza added five points and a gritty defensive effort, Winquest said.
In the semifinal against Battle Mountain, Incline took control with a big second quarter, when they stretched a 10-7 lead to 27-14. The Longhorns cut the lead to 10 points, 38-28, by the end of the third, but the Highlanders won the final frame 16-6 to put the game away.
Winquest said junior guard Christine Schwartz provided a spark early and finished with 10 points, including four free throws on five attempts, while Porter, Bates, Redfern and Barraza also played solid all-around games. Porter tallied 15 points and 14 rebounds, Bates scored nine points, and Refern had eight points and four assists. Barraza and Haeden Suter added four points apiece.
The Division III state championship tournament will be contested at University of Nevada, Reno’s Lawlor Events Center this Friday and Saturday, Feb. 26-27.
The semifinal round will pit White Pine (No. 1 South) against West Wendover (No. 2 North) on Friday at 11 a.m., and Incline (No. 1 North) against Agassi Prep (No. 2 South) on Friday at 2:20 p.m. The state title game will take place Saturday at 11 a.m.
While the Highlanders (19-5 overall, 12-2 DIII) have yet to face either Southern team this season, they remember White Pine (25-6, 13-3) well from last year’s state tournament. White Pine eliminated Incline, 49-40, in the semifinal round and went on to win the state title.
The Bobcats earned the No. 1 seed in this year’s state tournament with a 54-48 win over Agassi Prep in the Southern regional final.
Winquest said Agassi Prep (11-6, 11-5) is led by two “great one-on-one players” in sophomore point guard Destiny Rover and freshman guard/forward Sharmayne Finley.
“We just need to focus on doing what we do,” Winquest said. “We have to play our best basketball because any one of the four teams could win it. They are going to focus on Kira and Taylor, so we need other players to step up.”