Whittell drops season opener | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Whittell drops season opener

Jeremy Evans

ZEPHYR COVE – There was little doubt Monday’s game between Whittell and North Tahoe was the season opener for both teams.

The two teams combined for more than 30 turnovers and, at times, the basket appeared to have a lid covering it. But while sloppy play may have been the common theme, there still is no substitute for height during any part of the season.

North Tahoe’s inside duo of Michael Forte and Kena Murray combined for 35 points and overwhelmed Whittell in the paint as the Lakers posted a 50-39 nonleague victory over the Warriors at Whittell High School.

“We’re not a big team, so that’s something we’re going to have to deal with all season,” said WHS coach Dennis Young. “This was the kids’ first game together. With time, they’ll get better with it. They came back there in the second half and that was a good sign.”

After North Tahoe (1-0) opened up a 25-13 lead in the second quarter, Whittell (0-1) responded with a 12-2 run to trail 27-25 with 7:41 left in the third quarter. Jeff Young and Chris Craig combined to score eight of the Warriors’ points during the run.

Young finished with a team-high 16 points and Craig – Whittell’s lone returning starter from last season – had 13. But as good as Young and Craig were shooting from the outside, Murray and Forte were more dangerous on the inside.

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Once the Warriors closed out their run, the duo scored 16 of the Lakers’ next 23 points. Murray finished with a game-high 19 points and Forte added 16. Both players are about 6-foot-4.

“It was nice to finally play against somebody other than ourselves,” said North Tahoe coach Dave Hansen, who has only eight eligible players. “I was impressed with how Whittell came back there. They have some good shooters and (Young) can really shoot the ball.”

With 7:35 left in the game, the Warriors’ Brian Peat pulled down an offensive rebound and scored on a putback to make it 36-35. It was the closest Whittell had been since the first quarter. The Lakers, though, outscored the Warriors 14-4 to rest of the way.

“Brian Peat had a nice game inside for us considering this is his first basketball game ever,” coach Young said. “We have a long ways to go and we have a lot of work to do, but I think we’ll be competing in every game.”

Whittell travels to a tournament in Quincy this week. The Warriors open the tourney with a game against Loyalton on Thursday night. The tournament continues through Saturday.