By Garrett Estrada
Ely Times Staff Writer
Everything was looking good for the White Pine High boys basketball team late into the fourth quarter against Yerington on Jan. 24. The Bobcats were up by 10 points with four minutes remaining in the game, after having rallied back from being down 32-28 at halftime.
Then the turnovers happened.
Yerington capitalized on White Pine’s bad ball handling and with just under two minutes left, the game was tied 64-64. It was a demoralizing comeback by the Lions, and in front of a packed and loud student section, the Bobcats looked for their star senior Nick Johnson to make a play.
With one minute and 17 seconds left on the clock, Johnson broke free down the court with the ball, drove to the hoop and sunk a tie-breaking lay-up. Students and parents alike jumped from the bleachers and roared to life.
“It wasn’t the plan but once I got the ball I just went for the lay-up. It just felt good to be up again,” Johnson said.
The play kept the Bobcats on top just long enough to win 72-69, despite Yerington getting a final shot attempt for the chance to throw it into overtime.
It was one of several big plays made by Johnson in the game, who finished with 28 points, though his father and coach Paul Johnson joked it “took a couple of years off my life.”
“I always tell the kids that there are two victories in every game. You can win the points and you can win respect and every game you have to win respect and they did that by working hard,” Johnson said.
With the big win out of their system, the Bobcats rolled into their following home game against Silver Stage on Jan. 25 to win 66-45.
In a game that was nothing like their previous thriller, the Bobcats never trailed in their rout of the winless Nighthawks. Again the coach said the players played hard and made him proud.
“These kids just work hard. You can’t help but respect them and love them for it,” Johnson said.
The two wins have brought them back to .500 at 5-5 in league play.
The Bobcats will go back on the road to play their final two away games of the season, facing off against North Tahoe on Jan. 31 and the second place Incline Highlanders on Feb. 1.