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Wolverines struggle with Incline, Dayton

LARA MULLIN, Sierra Sun

“We finally competed and now I know that we can play when we set our minds to it,” said Wolverine boys’ basketball Coach Mike Grey this week after a close game against Dayton Saturday.

Although the Truckee squad eventually fell 70-82 to a deeper, more skilled Dayton team, they played hard basketball throughout the entire game.

When the season began, Grey’s team was struggling with basic offense plays and teamwork on the court. Saturday’s game bore the fruit of many hours of practice as David Larson, Jared Gifford and J.R. Murphy took command on the court and led a driving offense.

The Wolverines stepped up to stay in the high scoring game, and appeared stronger and more determined as the game progressed.

“If we had played the first quarter like we did the last three, we would have won,” Grey remarked. Truckee outscored Dayton in the last eight minutes of play 20-17, driving to the net and distributing the ball around the court.

Why did this newfound offense struggle? Defense, defense, defense. Eleven Dust Devil players scored as a result of poor coverage and ineffective rebounding efforts on behalf of TNT.

While the height factor is an issue for the Truckee team, which largely consists of smaller players, the Wolverines continue to back down in pressure situations and are not aggressive under the net.

Grey and his team refocused after Saturday’s loss and worked through defensive screens, rebounding and all-around aggressiveness at the beginning of the week before their game against Incline High School on Tuesday night.

Against the Highlanders, the workings of a more overt defensive presence could be seen on the court, but the Wolverines’ drive slowly deflated as the game progressed. Despite the shooting skill and quickness of the Highlander team, the Wolverines played a tough first quarter coming out on top.

Truckee retained the lead throughout the first eight minutes of play until Incline pulled ahead 10-9 at the free throw line to end the first quarter. The second quarter of play was an equally well-fought one, as the two teams battled it out on the court and sat even at 17-17 with three minutes left in the half.

Down 20-18 with mere seconds remaining in the first half, freshman J.R. Murphy delivered two crucial points for TNT from the line to bring the two teams to parity. Following the pattern of the earlier girls’ game, fouls played an integral role in the pace of play and the score, as Incline returned to the line and pulled ahead 21-20 before the buzzer.

After the half, the Wolverines appeared to have dulled their spark, losing sight of rebounding efforts and missing key baskets. TNT also committed eight turnovers in the second half as they fell behind the Highlanders 41-31 at the end of the third quarter.

Incline’s offense picked up their game in the last quarter, driving through a struggling Wolverine defense and grasping their largest lead of the game thanks to several successful free throws.

Without the leadership of Murphy and Larson, who both fouled out, the Truckee bench witnessed a 64-35 victory by Incline, which could have been theirs.

The Wolverines will head to Manogue this Friday.


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