White Pine and Needles split their two regular-season meetings, each winning on their own courts by four and three points, respectively.
Friday’s rubber match in a Division III Southern League semifinal at Chaparral didn’t disappoint.
With the game tied at 26, White Pine senior Emily Bischoff came off the bench to ignite a 14-4 rally over the final 2:55 to lift the Bobcats to a 40-30 victory over Needles.
White Pine (23-6) will face Agassi Prep (13-5) in the league final at 12:50 p.m. Saturday at Desert Pines. Both teams advance to next week’s state tournament in Reno.
“I turned to Emily with three-and-a-half (minutes) left and said ‘hey you’ve been pretty quiet, but for three minutes I’ve got to have everything you’ve got’ and she told me she could do it,” White Pine coach Krystal Smith said.
Bischoff scored the game’s next five points to give the Bobcats a 31-26 lead, then it was Ashlyn Huntington’s turn as she made a key steal, hit a 3-pointer and drained four late free throws to seal the win.
“Any certain night anyone can come alive,” Smith said. “Any given time you can turn to those four senior girls and ask ’em to go for the next five minutes. They’re very veteran four seniors who work hard and want to be leaders, but are so willing to play their guts out for their team.”
White Pine’s Kadi Finicum led all scorers with 14 points.
The Bobcats opened the game with a 10-2 run, paced by a pair of 3-pointers from Finicum. But the Mustangs answered by scoring the last seven points of the period to cut the gap to 10-9.
Needles kept the game close behind the strong inside play of Jayne Antone and Jasmine Mejia. Antone, who led Needles with 11 points, cut White Pine’s lead to one late in the third quarter, but back-to-back buckets by Haylee Andre and Madison Rick pushed the Bobcats ahead 24-19.
The Mustangs (17-9) wouldn’t go away, however, as they took advantage of White Pine’s stagnant play in the early fourth quarter. Needles outscored the Bobcats 5-2 over the first five minutes to tie the game at 26.
That’s when Bischoff and Ashlyn Huntington took over.
“I felt confident when I was coming in there and I could do it,” Bischoff said. “My team relied on me. I had confidence as long we kept playing to the best of our ability that we would pull out a win.”
Agassi Prep 59, Lincoln County 42 — The Stars outscored Lincoln County 22-8 in the fourth quarter to pull away for a semifinal win and the team’s first trip to the state tournament.
Agassi Prep’s Destiny Rover had 19 points, and Sharmayne Finley scored 18 for the Stars.
Hannah Hafen led the Lynx (23-4) with 13 points.