By Garrett Estrada
Ely Times Staff Writer
The White Pine High boys basketball team split its last two road games of the regular season, winning 62-59 at North Tahoe on Jan. 31 and losing 75-63 to Incline on Feb. 1. According to coach Paul Johnson, the weekend showed that the team has made improvements in their rebounding but are still plagued by turnovers.
In a game that Johnson called “sloppy,” the Bobcats needed to use their size under the hoop to pull out the close win against the Lakers. All three big men for the Bobcats stepped up. Nick Johnson and Seth Lester both had big games, shooting a combing 13 for 25 from the floor for 37 points. Ty Pickel finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds.
“It is a big achievement for him,” Johnson said of Pickel’s double-double.
Even with the post players all recording double digits, the Bobcats still had to fight until the end to come away with the win.
“We would make some runs where we would pull ahead of North Tahoe then we would have some bad possessions and turn the ball over which more often than not led to a transition basket going the other way,” Johnson said.
In the final possession of the game, the Lakers had the ball only down three points. With two seconds left on the clock, a North Tahoe player chucked the basketball from three-quarters court to try and tie the game.
“It missed its mark and my players started celebrating immediately. The ball was kicked back to half court off of the backboard and while our players were celebrating, the ball bounced to one of their players halfway between the three-point line and half-court. Their player got a shot off and it just rimmed out,” Johnson said, noting that he wants the players to learn that they need to play until the final buzzer.
“That would have been a bad lesson.”
Up next were the second-place Incline Highlanders. According to Johnson, it took the team a little bit to get up to pace on defense.
“Unfortunately it took us more than a quarter to understand that we needed to guard their key player Orin Porter closer than we were,” Johnson said.
Trailing by 10, the Bobcats made halftime adjustments to try and shut down Porter. Nick Johnson was switched to guard Incline’s star player, and though Porter scored 24 points overall, he was much less of a factor in the second half.
“Nick stole the ball from him and Porter fouled him, which fouled him out of the game,” Johnson said.
Even with a strong second half, the Bobcats couldn’t overcome their bad ball handling, finishing the game with 27 turnovers.