North Tahoe basketball: Girls eliminated from playoff race in close loss |

North Tahoe basketball: Girls eliminated from playoff race in close loss

Sylas Wright/Sierra SunNorth Tahoe sophomore Elizabeth Buhler drives in for two of her game-high 14 points against Whittell on Wednesday night.

DOLLAR HILL and#8212; North Tahoe sophomore guard Elizabeth Buhler worked into a pocket of open space and released a potential game-tying 3-pointer as the clock neared 00.

The shot was right on target, just a little short as it clanged off the front of the rim to the sound of a collective moan from the home crowd and#8212; followed by the final buzzer.

Whittell had escaped with a 31-28 win on North Tahoe’s senior farewell night Wednesday.

It was a tough loss to bear for the Lakers, who needed the win to stay alive in the Northern 2A playoff hunt. As it turns out, they’ll wrap up their season Friday with another game against Whittell in Zephyr Cove for nothing but bragging rights.

and#8220;We hope to return the favor,and#8221; said North Tahoe head coach Scott Conn, conceding that both teams will be playing for pride.

Conn’s Lakers fell to 1-8 in league and 4-16 overall, while the Warriors improved to 1-9 (3-16 overall) in the Northern 2A with their first league win. With the Laker loss, Silver Stage (4-6) earns the final playoff seed.

Senior standout Isabel Concha-Foley played a major role in the Whittell win, as she dominated the paint with her height and skills and finished with 13 points and 23 rebounds. Whittell head coach Thomas Esposito said it was Concha-Foley’s 17th double-double of the season.

and#8220;Concha-Foley was really difficult to control in the paint, especially in the first quarter when she had six of her 13 points,and#8221; Conn said. and#8220;She was quite a challenge for us, despite the fact that we double-teammed her with the defense we put together and#8230;

and#8220;My hat’s off to Whittell. They did a great job against us.and#8221;

In an effort to slow Concha-Foley and Whittell point guard Gabriella Tracy, Conn designated two players to defend those two man-to-man, while setting up the rest of his offense in a triangle zone. But the Warriors still managed to feed the ball into their star post player while Concha-Foley grabbed rebounds nearly at will.

and#8220;She was quite a challenge for us,and#8221; Conn said.

The Warriors built an 8-4 lead by the end of the first quarter, and led 18-10 at the half before the Lakers began cutting into the lead in the third quarter.

Led by Buhler, who hit a couple of 3-pointers in the game and finished with a team-high 14 points, the Lakers clawed their way back to within two points, at 22-20, with 2:26 left in the third quarter. It was as close as North Tahoe would come, as Tracy returned to the floor near the end of the third after missing several minutes with a tweaked ankle to steady the Warriors, who had allowed the mini Laker run in their starting point guard’s absence.

and#8220;She’s huge. She’s our senior point guard,and#8221; Esposito said. and#8220;We taped her up a little bit, and she made the decision to come back in. And then she took charge after that.and#8221;

The Lakers had their chances to narrow the gap, as they went to the free-throw line 20 times and converted only seven.

and#8220;That was the difference in the game right there. We didn’t execute from the line. They gave us a lot of chances.and#8221;

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