WEST WENDOVER – Entering the home stretch of the regular season, the West Wendover Wolverines avenged one of their two losses and kept pace for a potential first-round bye in the 2A North regional tournament.
Friday served as senior night for nine Wolverines, also giving West Wendover the opportunity to exact some revenge for a surprising loss.
The Wolverines went on the road on Jan. 13, falling by four points in a 63-59 ballgame in Incline – West Wendover without the services of senior Saul Palacios at the time.
Palacios has since returned from battling shin splints, and the Wolverines made up for the bugaboo with a 20-point victory over the Highlanders in the rematch.
West Wendover cruised to a 69-49 victory Friday night.
Head coach John Sharp deviated from his usual lineup, starting a group of senior bench players.
“We found ourselves down 5-0 in the first 45 seconds of the game,” Sharp said. “This was a game that we needed badly, so I wasn’t very patient and went to my normal starting five immediately. At the end of the first we were up 15-12.”
Sharp’s starters rolled to a similar dominance in the second period, limiting Incline to five points in the frame.
The Wolverines’ offense put up 13 points and took a 28-17 to the locker room.
West Wendover came out gangbusters in the third quarter, lighting up the Highlanders for 23 points.
Incline posted 16 points in the third but fell behind by 18 points, trailing 51-33 entering the fourth quarter.
Wanting to rest his starters for Saturday, Sharp reinserted his role players for the remainder of the game.
In the fourth, West Wendover outscored Incline 18-16 and cruised to a 69-49 victory.
Junior Armondo Gonzalez-Haro led the Wolverines with 13 points, joined in double digits by three more players.
Senior Eric Cerna closed with 12 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for a double-double, Palacios added 11 points and senior Dante Robles tallied 10 points – sinking two 3s.
Palacios and Cerna tied for the team high with two steals apiece, each dishing three assists and Palacios adding seven boards.
Robles nearly notched a double-double with his passing game, dishing a team-best nine assists.
Juniors Luis Esparza and Eric Correa flirted with double-digit scoring, notching nine and eight points, respectively.
The Wolverines were crazy efficient from the floor, shooting 31-for-54 and a 57-percent clip.
INCLINE 12 5 16 16 49 Total WEST WENDOVER 15 13 23 18 69 Total
Versus North Tahoe
The Wolverines improved to 9-2 in the Division 3A North with a 33-point victory Saturday over North Tahoe.
West Wendover’s offense tallied modest numbers in the first half, scoring 14 points in the first quarter and 13 points in the second period.
The defense was stellar, limiting the Lakers to six points in the first quarter and nine in the second.
At the break, the Wolverines led 27-15.
The third quarter served as West Wendover’s coming-out party once again, the offense hanging a quarter-century on the board.
North Tahoe scored just two points in the frame, the Wolverines taking a 52-17 lead into the fourth quarter and turning the game into a running clock.
“The fourth quarter we played our bench again to try and get them some experience for the playoffs,” Sharp said. “We are going to need everyone to be successful.”
North Tahoe edged West Wendover for the first and only time of the game in the fourth quarter by a total of 11-9.
In the end, the Wolverines rolled to a 61-28 victory.
Correa led the Wolverines with 13 points and six assists – adding three steals – joined in double digits by 12 points from Esparza and 11 from Gonzalez-Haro.
The offense was balanced for the Wolverines.
Cerna, Palacios and senior Eduardo Gonzalez finished with six points apiece, senior Abraham Carrillo closing with four and Robles rounding out the scoring with a deuce.
Palacios snagged a team-high seven steals, and Cerna pulled down a team-best seven boards and added four assists and two takeaways.
As efficient as the Wolverines were Friday against Incline, West Wendover was even hotter Saturday against North Tahoe – finishing 62 percent from the floor on 28-for-45 shooting.
NORTH TAHOE 6 9 2 11 28 Total WEST WENDOVER 14 13 25 9 61 Total “We have Pershing County on Friday in Lovelock. This will be a game. I know Pershing will want to blow us off their court since we embarrassed them at our home,” Sharp said. “They are the No. 1 team and they will be ready for us. My team will need to play a near-perfect game for us to win. But they are up for the challenge.”
The Mustangs (10-1 in league) fell for the only time against a 2A North opponent to the Wolverines on Jan. 6 in West Wendover by a wide margin, 76-43.
The upcoming contest could have major implications in the hunt for a No. 1 or No. 2 seed and first-round bye in the 2A North regional tournament, Pershing County already sweeping the season series over Battle Mountain (10-2).
West Wendover lost the first meeting against the Longhorns at home on Jan. 5 by a final score of 62-58.
The Wolverines will tip off at 7:30 p.m. Friday against the Mustangs in Lovelock, playing Feb. 6 on the road at White Pine (2-9) and closing the regular season at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 9 in Battle Mountain – the finale likely painting the top half of the postseason picture.