Incline basketball | Girls loaded with returning talent
New coach. Same talent.
The Incline girls basketball team returns its entire team from a year ago, plus a couple of nice additions, while gaining a new head coach in Indra Winquest from the Incline JV boys.
“We’re really, really deep, so that’s going to help. We’ve got a good rotation,” said Winquest, whose Highlanders are off to a 4-1 start. “As long as we stay healthy and eligible, I think we’ll do real well.”
Winquest, who took over for Wayne Nash, appreciates the quality group he inherited.
The Highlanders did not lose a single senior to graduation. They return the league MVP in junior Molly Franklin, as well as first-team All-League selections Kortney Solis and Kerrie Tonking, both seniors, sophomore second-teamer Kira Porter, and seniors Sara Wright and Torii Baker, both of whom received All-League honorable mention.
The 5-foot-9 Franklin averaged better than 15 points a game as a sophomore while shooting her way into the NIAA record book with 65 made 3-pointers, which ranks third in Division III history. Only Tera Tremayne of Battle Mountain (94 in 2006) and Danika Sharp of West Wendover (75 in 2010) made more.
But while Franklin and Solis were given the green light to shoot from range last season — Solis made 42 of her 3-point attempts — Winquest said the Highlanders will play a more aggressive, slashing game this year.
“One difference in this year’s team is how hard we play and how physical we play,” he said. “We want to be a lot more aggressive in getting to the basket instead of sitting out and shooting jump shots. I think it’s going to make a big difference in how far we can go at the end of the year.”
Aside from their returning All-Leaguers, senior Elise Nelson also is out for the team after not playing last season, as is senior Caroline May. Junior post Krista Conn, sophomore guard Brianna Barrazza and sophomore post Mia Bibolet return from last year’s team.
Baker starts at point guard, the versatile Franklin and Solis can both play guard or forward, and Tonking and Porter, at 5-8 and 5-10, respectively, start in the post. Nelson, an athletic 5-9, is often the first player off the bench, Winquest said, with the scrappy and athletic Wright, who can play forward or guard, following shortly behind.
“Elise is a huge boost to our team,” Winquest said. “She’s super fast and athletic, and she can defend the best player on the other team every game.”
With such an athletic squad, Winquest wants to play fast, employing an aggressive full-court press defense that wears down the opponent and leads to turnovers and quick offense. So far it’s worked, as the Highlanders are averaging 18 steals a game. They had 25 in a 53-11 win over Sparks on Saturday.
“We’re going to play really fast and press every game,” Winquest said. “We really want to play more physical and more aggressive.”
As for the competitive Northern Division III, Winquest expects the traditional powers to be good again, namely Pershing County, White Pine and Battle Mountain, as well as his Highlanders. But no one is to be overlooked, he said, including Yerington, neighboring rival North Tahoe, West Wendover and Silver Stage.
Incline will get its first taste of league play when Pershing County and Battle Mountain come to town next Friday and Saturday, Dec. 20 and 21. The season then breaks for the holidays and resumes Jan. 3 and 4 with long road trips to West Wendover and White Pine. The Highlanders compete this week in the Whittell Tournament.
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The Barracuda Championship is set to tee off next week, bringing PGA golfers to Tahoe Mountain Club’s Old Greenwood course for the second year in a row.