Buchholz’s career day lifts Whittell boys b-ball past Mineral County
ZPEHYR COVE — Mineral County tried to slow the Whittell boys basketball team Saturday with a defense that left open shots for Colin Buchholz — and the junior guard made the Serpents regret that choice. Buchholz scored a career-high 32 points — including seven three-pointers — as the Warriors rolled to an 82-53 victory on their home court.
“It shows teams that they shouldn’t just single out one person because people on our team will step up and shoot — like I did tonight,” Buchholz said.
Whittell (20-2, 12-1 IV West) scored the first 12 points of the game, and had a 16-4 lead after the opening quarter. Mineral County (15-10, 9-4) came out in a triangle-and-two defense aimed to stop Warriors guard Palmer Chaplin and forward Bryce Bronken — the strategy left Buchholz open from the perimeter on nearly every possession.
“We work against the junk defenses all the time — the problem with it is it puts guys in positions they aren’t familiar with,” Warriors head coach Phil Bryant said. “For us on offense it’s fairly easy — somebody is going to get some wide open looks, and Colin was the benefit of that today.”
Buchholz scored seven points in the first quarter — including five in an eight-second span. Following his first three-pointer of the contest, Whittell guard Osvaldo Reyes-Lucero stole the ensuing inbounds pass and dished it to Buchholz for a layup.
Mineral County shrunk Whittell’s lead to seven early in the second quarter, but the Warriors stretched it back out with an 11-3 run capped by a Buchholz three-pointer. Buchholz was in rhythm from the outside at that point, and closed the half by scoring the Warriors’ last nine points on three treys — including a three at the buzzer that gave him 20 points for the half.
“That left-side corner is where I like to hit the shots — we practice down there a lot and I was just feeling it tonight,” Buchholz said.
Buchholz’s buzzer-beater put Whittell ahead 45-23 at the break, and the Warriors led by at least 21 points the rest of the way en route to a comfortable win. Buchholz scored 12 points in the second half, and capped his career night by hitting a three-pointer with 4:48 left in the fourth quarter — his seventh make on 11 attempts.
“Colin is a good shooter — if you give him space and let him catch and shoot, he’s tough,” Bryant said.
Whittell scored a season-high 82 points in Saturday’s win over third-place Mineral County. In the first meeting between the teams, the Warriors beat the Serpents 59-36.
“It was the defense they tried to play when they weren’t really familiar with it,” Bryant said. “They tried to do something in a way that stymied Virginia City — but we have better shooters than Virginia City, and that pretty much took care of that.
“It was a very convincing win at this point in the season against the No. 3 team in our league.”
Chaplin played the role of distributor in response to the extra defensive attention, finishing with a season-high 15 assists and 19 points. Bronken added 12 points and six rebounds, forward Quinn Kixmiller finished with seven points and seven boards and guard Dismas Womack had eight rebounds to go along with two points.
“Palmer had a lot of assists to me and my teammates got me open,” Buchholz said. “I never had a shot where I took it all myself — I got it all from them.”
For Mineral County, guard Tyshawn Bonner led the way with 13 points — but was limited to three points in the first half. Forward Taylen Wachsmuth added 10 in the loss.
A night earlier, Whittell delivered a lopsided road victory over Sage Ridge. The Warriors beat the Scorpions 68-9 at Evelyn Mount Community Center in the first meeting between the teams this season.
Chaplin and Buchholz each finished with 14 points in the win — Chaplin also had eight assists. The Warriors opened up a 41-4 lead at halftime over Sage Ridge (1-13, 1-9) allowing for an all-freshman lineup that included junior varsity players Caleb Moretti, Peyton Galli, Connor Huber and Genaro Mena — Moretti finished with four points.
With three games remaining, Whittell trails league-leading Virginia City (21-2, 12-0) by one game. The Warriors and Muckers meet Friday night in Zephyr Cove, in a game that will go a long way to crowning the Div. IV West League champion.
“We’re just going to change a few things — we know what we did wrong the first time and we’re going to fix it,” Buchholz said about the high-stakes rematch.
Whittell returns to action Wednesday night at home against Sage Ridge at 6 p.m. The Warriors host Virginia City Friday at 7:30 p.m. before concluding the regular season Saturday at Sierra Lutheran — Friday night’s home finale is a “red out,” with all fans planning to attend encouraged to wear red.
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