Warriors searching for answers in crunch time
ZEPHYR COVE – A few more successful plays in crunch time and Whittell High School could be 2-1 in the Northern 2A Boys’ Basketball League.
Aside from a blowout loss to Rite of Passage on Friday night, the Warriors are trying to reverse a losing trend in league games.
Saturday’s home game against first-place Lovelock was an ideal opportunity to knock off a school that has beaten the Warriors regularly in past years.
But a blown layup, several missed free throws and a couple of key turnovers helped Lovelock escape with a 46-41 win Saturday afternoon.
“We played hard, but we started losing our focus and came down and were forcing shots,” said Whittell senior Cody Nelson. “We need to learn how to play when we’re ahead and take control of a ball game.”
Whittell led by five points in the third period and had a chance to tie with just over a minute remaining, but a missed layup allowed Lovelock to hold on to a slim lead.
“It was mental breakdowns that took us out of it,” said Whittell coach Tyler Rose.
Despite the missed chances, the Warriors still weren’t out of it in the final minute. A pair of free throws by Marcus Tippens put Lovelock ahead 42-38 with 1 minute, 18 seconds remaining.
After a Whittell turnover, the Mustangs’ Alonzo Dominquez missed the front end of a 1-and-1.
Nelson responded by getting fouled in the open court. He made the second of his two charity shots, making the score 42-39 with :26 to go.
The Mustangs, however, converted the remainder of their free throw attempts to seal the win. Center Jake Schumacher made two freebies with :24 left and Dominquez added two more with :14 remaining to put away the Warriors.
Lovelock senior guard Dylan Bloyed repeatedly burned the Warriors in their dribble-drive motion sets in the half court. Bloyed drained half of his team’s eight three-point shots and finished with a game-high 18 points.
Nelson topped the Warriors with 16 points, while Michael Koskin scored nine and Alex Vogt six.
“We were trying to utilize Cody more at the end, but we just couldn’t get the ball in his hands. That kind of stuff we’ll continue to work on,” Rose said.
The Warriors were very opportunistic at the foul line, making 10 of their 13 attempts.
Whittell (0-3 league) will play host to Battle Mountain on Saturday.
Lovelock also won the junior varsity boys’ game 52-41. Garrett Bronken led the Warriors with 15 points and five rebounds, while Hunter Morgan delivered 10 points and four rebounds and Jakeb Williams pulled down six boards.