Whittell boys b-ball downs Smith Valley, Excel Christian | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Whittell boys b-ball downs Smith Valley, Excel Christian

Anthony Gentile
Whittell guard Osvaldo Reyes-Lucero tracks down a loose ball during the Warriors’ 81-51 win over Excel Christian last Saturday.
Courtesy Boyd Dangtongdee |

The Whittell boys basketball team rolled to lopsided victories last weekend to remain undefeated in league play. The Warriors beat Smith Valley on the road Friday night and took down Excel Christian at home the following afternoon to extend their unbeaten league run to five games.

“We know that every team we play is bringing their best effort — we always expect them to play hard against us, and they do,” Warriors head coach Phil Bryant said. “It’s great to have a group of guys that respond to challenges.”

Whittell beat Smith Valley 73-35 on Friday, delivering a decisive win despite not having its strongest performance offensively. The Warriors had a 16-2 lead after the first quarter that ballooned to 31-8 by halftime.

“We were working hard on defense but did not shoot well,” Bryant said. “We missed 18 shots in the first quarter alone, many of them off steals that we did not convert.”

In the third quarter, Whittell scored 25 points and stretched its lead to 35. Bryant said the Warriors were able to develop their depth in the victory by giving increased minutes to their younger players.

Guard Palmer Chaplin led all scorers with 26 points in the victory to go along with eight points and seven steals. Guard Colin Buchholz finished with 23 points, six rebounds and four steals; guard Bryce Bronken also finished in double figures with 11 points.

Whittell had 42 steals in the victory, led by 12 from guard Osvaldo Reyes-Lucero. Bryant said the Warriors have shown continued improvement with their full-court press — and the senior is a big reason why.

“Oz has really heated up defensively for us and has kept his starting spot because of his efforts at that end of the court,” Bryant said. “We would like him to score a little more, but we have others filling that role so we appreciate what he does on that side of the ball.”

Saturday afternoon, Whittell hit an offensive season-high in an 81-51 victory over Excel Christian. Excel Christian came into the game with a 3-1 mark in league play.

“We had not seen them play, but we knew they had size and speed and that it would be a tough game,” Bryant said. “It was — their kids played hard and gave us problems around the basket with their size.”

Whittell led by 10 after the first quarter, and had a 53-25 advantage at halftime after a 31-point second quarter — the victory marked its fourth straight by at least 30 points. The Warriors backed off their press early against Excel Christian in order to make some adjustments to their half-court defense.

Three players scored in double figures for Whittell on Saturday, led by a game-high 24 points from Chaplin. The junior also finished with 11 assists and four steals against a box-and-one defense aimed at shutting him down.

“Palmer has done a great job of distributing the ball while he constantly goes against defenses designed to stop him — that’s why Colin, Bryce and Quinn (Kixmiller) have been able to all increase their scoring averages,” Bryant said. “We have a good box-and-one offense so it doesn’t bother us — it doesn’t make much sense why teams do it.”

Buchholz scored 20 and dished out five assists, and Bronken totaled 14 points and seven rebounds. The lopsided score gave forward Troy Libert, guard Corey Huber and guard Dismas Womack to mix in with the starters.

“Palmer is our leader yet this is a real team effort with others stepping up for whatever we need,” Bryant said. “I love their effort and the fact that they always play hard.”

Forward Quinn Kixmiller totaled eight points and 10 rebounds in the win. He faced a tough challenge in the frontcourt against Excel Christian.

“We challenged Quinn to step up his game and he did a great job against their inside players,” Bryant said. “Quinn is a huge part of what we do — he is our most physical player and has dominated some games on the boards. We need him to continue at the level for the rest of the season.”

Whittell improved its overall record to 13-1 with the wins over the Bulldogs and Warriors — and the defending Div. IV state champions are unbeaten in five league games. Bryant said the team’s success has been due to the standout play of Chaplin combined with the team as a whole settling into individual roles and performing them well.

“We are getting what we expected to get from Palmer — he is the hardest worker I have ever had with extra time in the gym and the weight room,” Bryant said. “He is driven to be successful and to make our team successful, but you can’t minimize the contributions of the others.

“If players don’t accept the differences between each other and play to their individual strengths, your team breaks down.”

Whittell returned to action Tuesday night at Coleville — the Warriors won the first meeting between the teams 73-22 on Dec. 20. Whittell returns to its home court Thursday night, when it hosts Sage Ridge at 7 p.m.

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