The Whittell Warriors basketball team won the Division IV State Championship over league foe Virginia City Saturday.
Before facing the Muckers, the Warriors, seeded No. 2 in the north, had to defeat the No. 1 seed from the south, Spring Mountain, Friday night.
Whittell came out fast against the Eagles and ended the first quarter ahead 20-11. In the second quarter, the Eagles pulled ahead and scored 21 points to Whittell’s six. The Warriors were down by six at halftime.
Whittell managed to outscore Spring Mountain in the second half and won a nail-biter 53-50.
“They were a very athletic team and their quickness in getting to the rim bothered us,” coach Phil Bryant stated in an email.
Palmer Chaplin led the scoring with 25 points and Mark Waite had 12. Bryce Bronken came through on defense covering the 6-foot-5-inch Spring Creek post player.
“Bronken did a great job blocking out the big guy and we were able to control the boards because of that,” Bryant said.
Virginia City beat Adelson High School to set up the state championship game, and the fourth meeting between the Warriors and Muckers this season.
Parents, students, alumni and members of the community came out to watch and the game had everyone on the edge of their seats, as the score was tied 13-13 at the end of the first quarter and 26-26 at halftime.
Whittell took a one-point lead at the end of the third quarter and ended the game with a 53-48 win.
“I think we caught them a little by surprise,” Bryant stated. “We didn’t press at all and tried to conserve energy for the half court defense. Mark Waite and Spenser Buchholz were keys to that working out for us.”
Virginia City’s familiarity with Whittell had them playing defense to limit Chaplin’s scoring, which opened up other players for opportunities and Whittell was up for the challenge. Bronken and Waite stepped up to combined for 31 points.
“It seemed like whenever we needed a basket to answer one of their scores, Bryce or Mark came up big,” stated Bryant. “Bryce also was big on the boards with eight rebounds. I think it may have been his best game in the biggest game.”
Bronken had 17 points, Waite had 14 and Chaplin had 11. Quinn Kixmiller added seven.
Bryant looks to continue the progress of the basketball program next season and credits the work ethic of his team, many of whom arrive early in the morning to practice shooting and lift weights.
“These guys on the 2013-2014 team are setting a standard for all future Whittell players,” he stated.
Whittell took three of the four games against Virginia City and ended the season with a 25-4 overall record.
This is Whittell’s first ever basketball championship and the first time they’ve been to the state finals since 1975 where they lost to Incline 70-61 in the Class A title game.