Editorial: Keeping spirits high at Whittell
For awhile there, it was looking like Whittell High girls’ basketball was going to have a disappointing year. After a strong start, the Warriors staggered through six losses in a row, a potentially demoralizing beginning to a season’s end. But the wins finally started coming, and the 18-7 Warriors are now on their way to the state tournament this weekend (a feat not accomplished in 21 years), and have the potential to accomplish what hasn’t ever been achieved before in school history: a state basketball title.
Coach Nathan Tolbert helped guide the team past a disheartening end to the ’05 season – where the girls fell one-point short of making state – and pushed them through a similarly close game Saturday. They knocked off the Battle Mountain to win the Northern 2A League Regional Championships. The score: 61-60, decided by a missed Battle Mountain free throw.
Anchored by first-team all-leaguers Katrina Kacirek and Jessica Woods, the Warriors are peeking at the right time. Junior Kelly Karmann has also been instrumental in the last-season surge after returning from jaw surgery. Karmann scored the winning basket against Battle Mountain and protected a one-point lead in the final seconds with a rebound.
Woods, also a junior, and Kacirek are two of the most athletically gifted students in the state regardless of classification. Whether they are on the basketball or volleyball courts or running track, they know how to win – and win with class.
Unlike many good teams which rely on one or two players to succeed, the Warriors have many supporting players who are fulfilling their roles, including seniors Sarah Ingenluyff, Tara Scaduto and Jayme Lowe; sophomores Brittney Makara and Kendra Koskin; and juniors Megan Esquivel and Joan Brown.
With just 232 students, Whittell is becoming known as a small school big in athletic talent. The varsity girls volleyball team took home its third state championship trophy in as many years in the fall, and the girls won their first state track title last spring. Kacirek, Woods and Karmann played significant roles in each of those championships.
And in 2004, the Warriors captured their second girls’ state cross country championship in three years.
The athletic department has been one of the school’s shining beacons. The school is also dealing with its share of problems.
Teachers there will report to a new principal next year after the Janie Gray’s departure following a tenuous tenure; students and parents are still dealing with the fallout from the alleged “sick-out” staged by teachers last spring (a panel found no wrongdoing), and Douglas County School District has indicated a potential plan to combine the middle school and high schools to battle the effects of declining enrollment.
Good news, these days, may be in short supply at Whittell. And it’s good to have coach Tolbert and the girls represent a great school in a great way.
Good luck this weekend, Warriors.
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