By Garrett Estrada
Ely Times Staff Writer
Things were not looking good for the White Pine Bobcats heading into the fourth quarter against Battle Mountain on Jan. 10. The Bobcats had been having a bad shooting night, and a few minutes into the final quarter, they were staring at a 24-point deficit.
Coach Paul Johnson huddled the players together and told them they could still win, but they were going to have to work for it.
“I asked the players to pick up the defense and start shooting the ball and crashing the boards,” Johnson said. “We had hit an offensive slump and I told them they just had to shoot their way out of it.”
The Bobcats had only scored 22 points through three quarters, making only 25 percent of their shots up until that point.
Then they caught fire.
“Nate Lee sparked our offense by shooting and driving to the basket. Nick Johnson had two key steals that led to transition baskets and midway through the 4th quarter the lead was reduced to 12 points. The team was fired up,” Johnson said.
The Bobcats kept fighting. By the final minutes of the game, the Bobcats had worked the Longhorns lead down to two points. The comeback was almost complete, but five consecutive missed shots couldn’t put the Bobcats in front and they had to foul.
Battle Mountain survived, winning 50-46 despite being outscored 24-8 in the final quarter.
Johnson said he has faith in his team and was proud of their big effort late in the game.
“I am hoping we can build on this positive end to the Battle Mountain game and get back on track. We have great kids and they deserve to be rewarded for their hard work,” Johnson said.
The Bobcats will want to focus on that last quarter and forget the game against Pershing the night before. The Bobcats were blown out Jan. 10 losing 60-37 in a game riddled with turnovers and poor shooting.
Johnson said the team needs to improve its ball handling if they hope to win games on the road. The Bobcats turned the ball over 24 times against Pershing. Even in the loss though, Johnson said the team never gave up.
“One thing I am quite proud of is the team played to the last second of the game,” Johnson said. “It would have been easy for the players to give up toward the end of the game but it speaks volumes to their character and quality that they played hard despite the lopsided score.”
The Bobcats come home to face Lincoln County on Thursday before going to West Wendover on Friday.
Boys- White Pine 37, Pershing 60
Girls- White Pine 34, Pershing 36
Boys- White Pine 46, Battle Mountain 50
Girls- White Pine 49, Battle Mountain 48