The Warriors had home court advantage Tuesday, but it didn't feel like it.
The boys and girls both lost hard-fought, physical matches to Virginia City in front of a boisterous visiting crowd. The girls were neck-and-neck, but dropped the non-league game 36-38. The boys went into halftime trailing 24-30, but fell 45-65 as the game and gym atmosphere turned tougher in the second half.
Lady Warriors keep it close
It was a physical game, and the lady Warriors matched Virginia City point for point. The game was tied at 9 after the first quarter, and the Warriors trailed by one at halftime and again after the third.
"It was a close game and it could have gone either way," girls coach Tom Esposito said. "It was evenly matched on both sides, and I thought we played a pretty good game. We kept our turnovers down."
Tough defense from junior Tori Jimenez kept a win within reach. Jimenez played a standout game. She pulled down nine rebounds, five offensive and four defensive.
"Her defense was the key to keeping their top scorer down," Esposito said.
The Warriors lost some momentum in the first half when their point, Emily Harris, was mistakenly called for a third foul. The foul belonged to twin sister Amanda Harris. As a result, Emily took a seat in the second and played a more conservative game.
"They were both on the ball so it was a tough call," Esposito said. "It was just a physical game, which is good and we held up to the physicality of the game. I think they're starting to enjoy contact, and they're seeing the success of big defense."
Emily still managed to put up 10 points and eight rebounds.
Amanda threw up a game-high 15 points and grabbed six rebounds.
Freshman Kenya Maltase stepped up from junior varsity for the game, and her court presence helped the Warriors regain a 36-36 tie after slipping seven points behind in the fourth.
Virginia City made it 38-36 in the final minute, and a last look from Jenny Shepack with 5 seconds on the clock was close, but didn't drop in the Warriors' favor.
"I think we're building confidence and that's what you need going into league," Esposito said.
Boys drop physical game
Virginia City brought a physical game to Whittell, and by the second half the gym atmosphere was tense.
"We don't promote that our kids go in and cheer against the opponent. You cheer for your team that's fine, but as far as the game went we just got beat," boys coach Phil Bryant said.
Virginia City was physical and stacked with sharp shooters.
Whittell hung in for the first half, matching the fast pace and keeping the score in check. The Warriors trailed by three at the end of the first quarter. A big part of that was Palmer Chaplin, who put up back-to-back threes and converted a steal. Don't forget, Chaplin is doing all this as a freshman with a total of 11 high school games under his belt.
The Warriors trailed by six at halftime, but the physical game seemed to ratchet up yet another notch when they took the court again for the second half.
"More than anything else it was a pretty physical game. Even their guards were pretty physical, so I just think that we wore down a little quicker, and they continued to make shots, and we continued to miss shots," Bryant said.
The little things added up against the Warriors in the second half. Their shots weren't falling and they were picking up fouls. Virginia City outscored the Warriors 21-4 in the third quarter to cement the lead.
"You know they had four different guys knocking down perimeter shots so what are you going to do? When a team comes out and plays like that, you're going to get beat, but you want them to learn about effort, about continuing to compete in the face of adversity, to respond in a positive basketball manner, to dig deeper and work a little harder, and we're not over that hump yet," Bryant said.
"These are the kinds of things that test your adversity. They made shots they made plays, and we didn't so we have to learn by it. It doesn't matter if it was 51-50 or 45-65, it's one loss. I didn't go in and chew anyone out in the locker room. It's one loss. We got beat, so you just have to let that part of it go."
The Warriors are moving on with an away game against Yerington today before a league home opener Saturday against North Tahoe. The girls play at 2 p.m. and the boys at 3:30 p.m.