Ely Times Staff Writer
The White Pine High boys basketball team lost both of its opening home games of the season, with a stunning 54-51 loss to North Tahoe on Friday and a 60-47 loss to Incline on Saturday.
Bobcats coach Paul Johnson said the Bobcats looked like two different teams over the weekend.
The team he coached in Friday’s loss to North Tahoe is not one he would like to see again.
“We are a lot better than we are playing. I have to figure out something because we are all of a sudden not playing with the synergy that we had in the preseason games,” Johnson said.
Johnson called the team’s effort against the 3-9 Lakers “poor” and said the defense was “atrocious.”
“They didn’t play with much heart, and quite frankly, got what they deserved,” Johnson said.
Despite the poor play, the Bobcats still had an opportunity to extend the game to overtime after Lakers’ player Alex Tyler missed both of his free throws with 6.5 seconds remaining on the clock. Down 51-54, the Bobcats got the ball to their best shooter Nick Johnson, but he missed the game-tying three-point shot to end the game.
Johnson challenged his team to step up their play against conference leading Incline on Saturday and the players responded.
The Bobcats’ big men Seth Lester and Ty Pickel ran the court on breaks and made plays under the hoop to keep the game close in the first half.
“We had a chat. Two of our big guys combined for one offensive rebound in our losing effort the other night. In this game they rebounded a lot better,” Johnson said.
Nick Johnson also found a shooting rhythm, scoring a team high 20 points.
“He is a hard worker. He plays hard. He gets double digit rebounds and points almost every game and that is because he keeps working hard,” Johnson said of his son, Nick. “I just hope I don’t wear him out before the end of the season.”
The back and fourth game looked like it could go either way until the Bobcats turned the ball over on three straight possessions midway through the fourth quarter. Incline capitalized with back-to-back three point shots to break the tied game open.
“That little run ended up being the difference in the game,” Johnson said.
Unlike the game against North Tahoe however, Johnson saw his team play hard against Incline. The coach came away from the game Saturday feeling much better about the team than he did the night before.
“They made a commitment to each other to play as hard as they can. In the locker room, I make it a point to ask them if they played as hard as they can, and with the exception of a couple of players, they all said they worked as hard as they could. That is all a coach can ask for,” Johnson said.
The Bobcats will next play in Pershing on Friday followed by another road game at Battle Mountain on Saturday.