North Tahoe basketball: Girls recover from slow start to defeat Whittell
TAHOE CITY ” The Lakers spotted Whittell the first eight minutes Tuesday night. But it didn’t matter much in the end.
Trailing 6-5 after a sluggish first quarter, North Tahoe buckled down and picked up its intensity to outscore the visiting Warriors by 14 down the stretch en route to a 50-37 league win.
“I’m surprised we scored 50 points with the way we played,” said North Tahoe head coach Scott Conn, whose Lakers improved to 2-0 in the Northern 2A. “If we can play that badly and get 50 points, I can smile knowing what we’re capable of.”
Whittell (1-2) did not let the Lakers off the hook easily. Led by Isabel Concha-Foley, who finished with a team-high 13 points and 14 rebounds, the Warriors swapped buckets with the Lakers early in the second quarter to keep the game tight.
The quarter began with five lead changes before junior guard Sara Estrada sunk a pair of free throws to trigger a 10-0 North Tahoe run leading into the half.
Still, Whittell hung tough after the break, employing a full-court press that led to several Laker turnovers.
“They did harass us, but typically presses don’t bother us too much,” said Conn, who had his team apply full-court pressure of its own in strategic spurts.
While North Tahoe’s aggressive defense led to a number of easy points, senior Sydney Courcier provided the bulk of the offense with her sharp shooting from outside. She finished with a game-high 19 points, many of which came from her comfort zone angled about 18 feet from the basket.
“That’s my favorite (shot),” Courcier said of the 18-footer.
Senior point guard Kelly Hester, who finished with 10 points and eight assists, distributed the ball often to Courcier, who found nooks of space in a Warrior defense trying to clamp down on the Lakers’ post players. Courcier’s outside touch was a needed boost for a Laker team struggling from long range.
“I need to give a lot of credit to Whittell because they were tough on defense, especially in the paint. But it was one of our subpar shooting efforts, in my opinion,” Conn said.
After leading by as many as 15 in the third quarter, the Lakers allowed the visitors to pull to within five points, 40-35, with 3:50 remaining in the contest.
North Tahoe senior Shelby Adams then stuffed a Whittell shot attempt under the basket ” her third block of the game ” and senior teammate Shannon Stack snatched a defensive rebound before being fouled. Stack made one of two at the line, and Courcier followed with a breakaway layup off an assist from Hester on the next possession. The series of plays keyed a 10-2 Laker run to end the game.
“I think we could have played a lot better than we did,” said Stack, who had eight rebounds and two blocks. “We started out slow. But it’s good to get a win ” always is.”
Courcier conceded that North Tahoe did not play to its potential coming off a big home win this past Friday.
“I think we were kind of on cloud 9 still from beating Lovelock,” she said, referring to the Lakers’ 47-31 league-opening win over the visiting Mustangs. “We started slow, but once we realized it wasn’t going to be easy we picked it up as a team.”
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