Incline basketball: New-look boys team off to fast start
Incline is scheduled to play a nonleague game at Colfax on Tuesday and will compete in the Truckee Basketball Classic from Thursday through Saturday. The Highlanders open the tournament against Division I-A Dayton on Thursday at 4:30 p.m.
The Incline boys basketball team opened the season with an 80-53 nonleague win over visiting Sacramento Adventist on Saturday.
After an evenly matched first quarter that ended in a 16-16 tie, the Highlanders outscored the Capitals 25-5 in the second quarter to take a commanding 41-21 lead into the half. Incline extended its lead to 59-32 by the end of the third quarter.
Nine different players scored for the Highlanders, including four who finished in double figures. Junior guard Jon Cromer, who transferred to Incline from Mineral County this past summer, led the way with 20 points on 7-of-8 shooting.
Cromer was 4-for-4 from the free-throw line and 2-for-2 from behind the three-point arc. He also grabbed a team-high nine rebounds and blocked two shots to earn Player of the Game honors.
Incline senior Bryan Golombik added 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting, making three of his five three-point attempts, while Blake Perry and Joey Stranzl each scored 10 points. Will Stranzl scored eight points, and Matt Cromer and Jackson Littleton each had six.
After graduating eight seniors from last year’s team, Incline coach Tim Kelly said the Highlanders have a considerably different look entering their 2015-16 campaign.
“We are very long and athletic and we attack the rim extremely hard,” Kelly said. “A lot different than the 30 three-pointers we were shooting per game last year.”
The Highlanders gained two quality players over the offseason when the Cromer brothers — Jon a 6-3 junior guard and Matt a 6-2 senior guard — moved to Incline Village.
“(They are) huge additions to our town and team,” Kelly said. “Amazing family that has fit in perfectly to our community, school and basketball program. We are very blessed to have them.”
Kelly said that senior guard Tanner Quenneville is injured but is expected to return and contribute to Incline’s success with his speed and leadership. Quenneville averaged 11.7 points per game off the bench last year, which ranked third on the team.
“He is possibly the fastest kid from baseline to baseline I’ve ever coached,” Kelly said of Quenneville, a standout lacrosse player who also excelled as a receiver and quarterback on Incline’s football team. “He will give us a senior leader who can do everything for us. He’s worked very hard to become more skilled on the offensive end.”
Kelly also expects significant contributions from the Stranzl brothers — Joey a senior guard and Will a sophomore guard — after improving their game this past spring and summer.
“They worked very hard in the weight room and on the court. Will was the greatest surprise of the season. He transformed himself into our team leader on the court. He is our starting point guard as a sophomore and he has worked extremely hard,” Kelly said.
Perry and Jerry Sanchez, both seniors, will provide a presence inside on Incline’s guard-heavy team. “Both work very hard and are fearless,” Kelly said. “They give us great energy on the boards and playing defense.”
Senior guard Bryan Golombik, who is Incline’s best shooter, Kelly said, returns after his junior season was cut short due to injury. Senior guard Grant Goldenberg is also a skilled shooter and can score in bunches, while senior guard Mitchell Cornell and junior guard Jeremy Goldberg are multi-sport athletes who add quality depth to the Highlanders’ bench.
Kelly is also excited about Littleton, who is the only freshman on the squad: “He definitely doesn’t play like he’s a freshman. We are really excited that DJ earned his spot on our varsity team.”
The Highlanders will look to improve on last year’s playoff season, in which they played into the Division III state championship tournament before falling to Agassi Prep, 96-74, in the semifinal round. That team posted a final record of 20-6 overall.
“We are a very fun team to watch; we play hard and fly around,” Kelly said. “The faces have changed from the last two years but the goals remain high — get to Lawlor Events Center and compete for a state title. That’s what we do in Incline; we’ve built a culture of working hard and playing for championships. There is no reason this team can’t get to a third straight regional title game. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”