By Lukas Eggen Ely Times Staff Writer
The White Pine boys’ basketball team may find itself in a must-win game against Battle Mountain this Saturday. The Bobcats dropped three games to West Wendover (80-64), Elko (61-28) and Spring Creek (59-42) last week.
“The West Wendover game was the most disappointing game,” head coach Paul Johnson said. “I really thought that we had our best chance at beating them, especially at home.”
The game remained close through two quarters, but West Wendover outscored White Pine 26-10 in the third quarter, blowing the game open.
“We had a defensive lapse,” Johnson said. “…It’s a game that we could have won and probably should have won.”
After its loss to Elko, early foul trouble forced Johnson to use a smaller lineup against Spring Creek. The result was Spring Creek outscoring White Pine by just one in the first and fourth quarters where the Bobcats were able to play their starting lineup and outscoring the Bobcats by 12 in the two quarters where Johnson had to keep players on the bench.
“Our lack of size against Spring Creek really cost us,” Johnson said. “They’re a big team.”
The team finishes its regular season at Lowry and at Battle Mountain. And depending on how Battle Mountain fares against West Wendover, the Bobcats’ season could come down to its regular season finale on Saturday.
“We have to get offensive production from some of the guys who have not been aggressive offensively,” Johnson said. “Otherwise, defensives only have to guard a couple of players on our team. We need the big guys to sacrifice a little bit more and play better defense. We’re giving up way too many points when we have the bigger, slower team in the game. We’re better rebounding wise but not as good pursuing the ball on defense.”
If White Pine does punch its ticket to the postseason, Johnson said the team’s youth could be an advantage going forward.
“One of the things that makes us dangerous in the postseason is we are somewhat inconsistent and that makes us unpredictable,” Johnson said. “We have played great but we have played poorly…I think our youth can be an advantage and a disadvantage. Everybody picks up their game in the postseason. Without anything to lose, we will play hard and play relaxed.”
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