Warriors complete sweep of Vikings
ZEPHYR COVE – The Whittell High Warriors proved to South Tahoe on Friday night that they weren’t a one-night wonder 10 nights ago.
Whittell completed the initial series sweep of the cross-the-border rival Vikings 42-33 in a Mount Rose League boys’ basketball game in front of a large crowd at Whittell High School.
Does this mean the Warriors are the best basketball team on the South Shore?
“I wouldn’t go that far, but we were the better team tonight, just like we were at their place,” said Whittell coach Tyler Rose.
Alex Potnick, a Whittell senior, said after scoring a game-high 19 points that the Warriors are the better team.
“No doubt in my mind,” he said. “Energy, plain and simple. The first two quarters I think they came out flat, and we got into their heads, and our fans got into their heads because we won the last one.”
Potnick buried four three-point shots, several that steadied the Warriors when it appeared the Vikings would rally and make the game close. Senior point guard Blake Heldt-Werle also was a calming influence for the Warriors, especially handling the ball against the Vikings’ man and pressure defenses in the final period.
“Alex can do it with his skills, and Blake can do it with his leadership,” Rose said. “The combination of the two out there just gets everybody going.”
Heldt-Werle also was deadly at the foul line, sinking 8 of 8 to finish with 15 points.
With Potnick and Heldt-Werle each nailing three-point shots, Whittell shot out to a 9-2 lead with 5 minutes, 15 seconds to go in the opening quarter. Whittell never buckled, building a 23-14 halftime lead and taking South Tahoe’s best shot in the third period when Kory DiGrande drained a three-pointer. The trifecta pulled South Tahoe within 23-20, but Whittell scored the final seven points of the period – its first points coming on a baseline jumper by Heldt-Werle with 3:30 left and Potnick canning a trey late in the period.
A Potnick three-pointer gave Whittell its biggest lead, 33-22, with 6:40 to go, but South Tahoe battled back to within six. Wade Norberg’s three-point play triggered a brief South Tahoe run, along with a full-court press that turned Whittell over a few times.
Potnick thwarted another Vikings’ bid by sinking a baseline shot on a feed from Garrett Bronken, and Heldt-Werle’s perfect foul shooting at the end sealed the win.
“If we don’t put ourselves in a hole, it’s a whole different team. We have all confidence in the world,” Rose said. “I don’t what it is, if we should be playing rivals all the time.”
Peter Pielaet-Strayer led the Vikings with 10 points, DiGrande added seven and Norberg scored six.
The Warriors improved to 2-4 in MRL, while the Vikings dropped to 3-3. South Tahoe plays host to Truckee on Tuesday in a key matchup that could ultimately determined which school goes to the regional playoffs.
Whittell will also be at home, welcoming North Tahoe, which beat the Warriors in their previous meeting in Tahoe City.
South Tahoe won the JV game 58-38 as Cody Higgins knocked down his first five three-point shots and finished with a game-high 20 points. Mark Waite scored 13 for Whittell.