BATTLE MOUNTAIN – Despite being tied for second and third place in the Division 2A North standings, the West Wendover boys basketball team tallied a win in the season finale on the road again the team it was tied with.
The Wolverines locked up the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye for the 2A North regional tournament with a victory Friday in Battle Mountain, beating the Longhorns 63-54.
West Wendover brought high energy from the get-go, outscoring Battle Mountain 17-11 in the first quarter.
The Wolverines built a lead as big as 17 points in the second period, but the Longhorns made a run toward the end of the half and cut the lead to 12 at the break.
The second period was by far the highest-scoring frame of the contest – the squads combining for 46 points in a fast-paced eight minutes – the Wolverines on the top side of a 26-20 slugfest.
At halftime, West Wendover led 43-31.
The offenses slowed dramatically in the second half.
Battle Mountain edged the Wolverines by a total of 10-7 in the third quarter, the Longhorns forcing turnovers on the first three possessions of the half by West Wendover – translating to points.
West Wendover’s bench picked up a technical foul, Battle Mountain making both free throws.
The Wolverines finished the quarter with positive play, opening a nine-point advantage after seeing its lead evaporate.
Entering the fourth quarter, the Wolverines led 50-41.
The fourth quarter provided an even affair, each team mounting 13 points – West Wendover staying the course and holding off a Battle Mountain comeback bid by a final score of 63-54.
West Wendover closed with five players in double figures, led by 12 points each from juniors Luis Esparza and Eric Correa.
Esparza approached a double-double with nine rebounds.
In defeat, Battle Mountain senior Reese Artz dropped a game-high 16 points, followed by 15 points apiece from seniors Miles Piramide and Mason Fuller.
Artz tied for the team high with seven rebounds, and Piramide led the Longhorns with five assists.
Seniors Dante Robles and Saul Palacios scored 11 points each for the Wolverines, who found their fifth double-digit scorer with 10 points by junior Armondo Gonzalez-Haro.
Palacios notched 11 points on just three field-goal attempts, knocking down 9-for-11 from the free-throw line.
Gonzalez-Haro and Robles passed extremely well – each dishing eight assists – Gonzalez-Haro leading the Wolverines with five steals and tying senior Eric Cerna for the team high with one block apiece.
Senior Chris Figueroa finished with six points for the Longhorns – leading Battle Mountain with three steals and tying Artz for the team high with seven boards – and Cerna added five points for the Wolverines.
WEST WENDOVER – 17 – 26 – 7 – 13 – 63 Total
BATTLE MOUNTAIN – 11 – 20 – 10 – 13 – 54 Total
“I had five guys in double figures. It was a great team win,” said West Wendover coach John Sharp. “Dante Robles was amazing, finishing 4-for-6 shooting and dishing out eight assists.”
Despite each team finishing with 11-3 records, the Wolverines were awarded the tiebreaker after the head-to-head matchups resulted in one win apiece for West Wendover and Battle Mountain.
Receiving a point for every win in league play by teams the Wolverines and Longhorns defeated, West Wendover’s one win against Pershing County proved to be the difference – also serving as Mustangs’ only loss (13-1 record, No. 1 seed) – the Wolverines topping the Longhorns in the tiebreaker by a total of 60-53.
The Longhorns will play No. 6 North Tahoe (3-11) in the quarterfinal round of the 2A North regional tournament at 4:40 p.m. Thursday at Adobe Middle School in Elko.
The Wolverines earned the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye, awaiting the Battle Mountain-North Tahoe winner at 4:40 p.m. Friday in the semifinal round – the winner advancing to the regional championship and booking a spot in the state tournament – likely having to settle a season split with the Longhorns.