Bizarre hoop day at Whittell High
Understanding the unusual behavior at the George Whittell-Bishop Manogue high school basketball games Saturday in Zephyr Cove required the mental strength of a psychiatrist.
Perhaps Saturday’s National Football League divisional playoffs contributed to the aggressive actions. Or maybe Manogue coach Dave Christiansen had the answer when he suggested that something in the water caused it.
Whatever the reason, there were plenty of people out of control at the Nevada 3A Division II basketball games. The bizarre afternoon-evening contests started with a Whittell junior varsity player’s ejection for head butting. Then several Manogue varsity girls team supporters seemed unhappy with a 20-point lead and incessantly berated a two-man officiating crew for “hometown refereeing.”
But the coup de grace arose in the nightcap of the four-game set when Douglas County School Board member George Echan was tossed out of the gym.
“We tossed him for excessive and lewd behavior,” said the official, who wished to remain anonymous.
Echan, the father of Whittell varsity boys starter Todd Echan, received a standing ovation as he left the gym.
The officials called the game closely, whistling 46 fouls and breaking up several near fights, to prevent what they feared was a potential brawl.
“It was this close,” said one referee, holding his index fingers an inch apart. “The vibes were there.”
Afterward in the Whittell locker room, 6-foot-5 center James Putnam, sporting a gash on the side of his nose, wasn’t blaming anyone but the Warriors for the 63-50 setback.
“There were some bad calls, but then there some good calls. Our problem is we don’t play as a full team. Until we do that, we’re not going to win anymore games,” said Putnam, whose club dropped to last place in division at 0-3.
The coaches differed in their assessments of how they officials handled the physical contest.
“It kind of played out like I thought it would,” Christiansen said. “Their kids are scrappy and they hustled their (butts) off. We just never quite into the flow. That was Whittell’s third game this week, so his kids were a little ragged, and I had a tough time getting my guys refocused after (Friday) night’s win.”
Whittell coach Steve Maltase wasn’t as reserved in his postgame comments.
“They let it get out of hand in the second quarter and with two minutes left (in the game), they tried to call a little huddle. I told them, ‘Why didn’t you do that in the second quarter,” Maltase said. “I think they called the wrong fouls. They were calling the ticky-tack fouls, but they were letting them get away with elbows.”
The visit to Zephyr Cove has become an ongoing adventure for the Miners coach.
“Coming up here is kind of weird. I’ve never seen a fan ejected,” Christiansen said. “Last year, my son was out here shooting a free throw and someone came out and tried to pull down his shorts. He’s home for vacation from school now and I asked him earlier Saturday if he wanted to go up to Whittell and he goes, ‘No, they might try and pull down my shorts down again.'”
Whittell quickly fell behind 9-2 as the Miners’ Michael Padgett buried two three-pointers in the opening three minutes. Dusty Apocotos, who has missed most of the season with an ankle sprain, however, brought the Warriors back by coming off the bench to can a pair of threes. His second trey with 98 seconds left in the first quarter pulled the Warriors to within 13-9, but the Miners went on a 5-0 run to conclude the period.
Whittell struggled to find its offensive rhythm thereafter, often settling for the first shot available and unable to get Putnam untracked.
“We’re getting some good shots, but they’re not falling,” said Todd Echan, who made 5-of-6 foul shots and finished with seven points. “Maybe we’ve got to run different plays a little bit more, but our shooting will come around.”
Putnam, who has consistently scored 20 or more points per game this season, usually had three Miners surrounding him when he received the ball inside.
“Next time, I’ll pass the ball more and kick it out a lot more,” said Putnam, who finished a foul-plagued evening with eight points on 3-of-17 shooting from the floor.
The senior center’s absence during most of the third and fourth quarters enabled the Miners to extend a 32-23 lead to 54-34.
“By him not getting some calls, it took him out of his game,” Maltase said.
Apocotos led the Warriors with 15 points, while Avery Norman netted 12.
With only nine division games remaining, the winless Warriors already feel the urgency to win Tuesday at Yerington to have any chance to qualify for the postseason.
“We have to start out (stronger) in the beginning and not dig ourselves in such a hole. If we play like we did in that fourth quarter, we’ll win any game,” Todd Echan said.
Putnam scored 23 and Echan 8 in a 72-57 defeat at Dayton on Friday.
Whittell’s junior varsity split their weekend games, beating Dayton 49-43 and losing to Manogue 54-24. Paul Roberson led the Warriors with 17 points in the win over Dayton. Bryan Sigel added 11 points, Joel Warnick eight and Jake Corners seven. Sigel topped the Warrior scoring column with nine against Manogue.
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