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2A Girls: Incline uses height advantage to top Lions

Calvary Chapel’s girls basketball team has plenty of fight and resiliency, but not much height.

Against a taller Incline team on Friday, the lack of height hurt the Lions.

The Highlanders used a big rebounding edge and some timely 3-point shooting to earn a 55-44 victory over Calvary Chapel in a Class 2A state semifinal at Eldorado.

Incline (21-5), which held a 42-27 advantage in rebounds, plays White Pine (25-2) for the state title at 2:40 p.m. Saturday at Orleans Arena.

“I think as a team we came out and fought and tried our hardest,” Calvary Chapel junior Tyra Perkins said. “That’s a tough team we played against, not all shots go in. It wasn’t the outcome we expected. I think we did OK rebounding, considering they have a lot taller players.”

After falling behind 23-9 in the second quarter, the Lions used their smaller, quicker lineup to press the Highlanders and force miscues that resulted in turnovers.

The Lions (16-12) converted three consecutive turnovers into points and pulled within 28-23 on a Jialing Monaco 3-pointer that ignited the crowd.

“Because we’re small, we really want to get after it defensively and we have a tough mentality,” Lions coach Shay Johnson said. “We’re little, our average size is 5-foot-4. It just comes down to understanding who we are. We’ve been in these moments before. We’ve had to fight back.”

Incline answered with second-chance baskets to take a 35-25 halftime lead.

Calvary Chapel crept within 42-36 at the end of the third quarter, but the Highlanders drew fouls on four of their first five possessions of the third quarter and used a 7-0 run to extend their lead to 49-36 and never looked back.

“We usually switch on when the game gets tight and some teams tend to crumble,” Johnson said. “But that’s a really well-coached team, and they didn’t get rattled and they did what they had to do to come out with the win.”

Perkins had 13 points and 11 rebounds, and Olivia Bell added 11 points for the Lions.

Taylor Redfern and Elisabeth Stranzal each had 16 points for Incline, and teammate Brooke Gutheil scored 10.

White Pine 29, Lincoln County 28 — The Bobcats held off a late charge to win the first semifinal over the Lynx.

White Pine led 29-24 with 1:24 to play, but Gwen Lamb’s steal and layup with 18 seconds left pulled Lincoln County within a point.

After White Pine’s Mia Kemmler missed the front end of a 1-and-1, Lamb’s desperation heave at the buzzer fell short.

Madison Ricks led the Bobcats (25-2) with seven points and six rebounds, and teammates Eva Kingston and Olivia Hendrix each chipped in with six points.

White Pine’s size hampered the Lynx (15-11) throughout the game, limiting their second-chance opportunities, while forcing 18 turnovers.

Sadie Soderberg and Kendra Mathews each scored nine points to lead the Lynx.

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