White Pine’s girls basketball team couldn’t get out of its own way at the start of the second half Saturday.
Teal Hussey entered the game and played the role of traffic cop for the Bobcats.
The senior guard helped stabilize the offense and keyed a game clinching 13-2 run that lifted White Pine to a 48-37 win over Needles in the Division III Southern League final at Spring Valley.
Both White Pine (17-3) and Needles (24-6) advance to next week’s state tournament.
White Pine brought a 25-17 lead out of the locker room, but turned over the ball on each of its first five possessions of the second half before finally cashing in on a transition layup by Ashlyn Huntington.
A pair of free throws brought the Mustangs within 27-25, but Hussey checked in with 5 minutes, 13 seconds left in the quarter and helped calm the Bobcats, who committed only one more turnover in the third quarter and stretched their lead to 40-27 on Jaden Ernest’s right-wing 3-pointer with 37 seconds left in the quarter.
“Teal Hussey was a real spark for us off the bench today,” White Pine coach Krystal Smith said. “She came down and got rebounds and really kind of calmed us down.”
The lead stayed in double figures until Jane Antone converted a three-point play with 1:34 left in the game to pull Needles within 46-37.
Hussey, who didn’t play in the first quarter or fourth quarter, finished with nine points and six rebounds.
Huntington had 10 points, eight of those on transition layups for the Bobcats. Eleven of the White Pine’s 13 2-point field goals were scored in the paint.
“It seemed like when we got the ball to the high post, they had a tendency to collapse on Debra (Kingston). They know she is a force inside,” Smith said. “She’s a pretty good passing big and she was able to play that role in the fourth quarter.”
Kingston finished with seven points and 10 rebounds.
“It’s huge. This has been our goal from the beginning of the season,” Smith said. “It’s nice to accomplish that goal before going on to our next goal of performing well at state.”
Brenna Chavez led Needles with 19 points.