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Casteleyn ends career

Steve Yingling

It wasn’t supposed to end this way. Not in his gym. Not in complete frustration.

But Chris Casteleyn’s remarkable prep basketball career did conclude Saturday – a week or two prematurely.

The Nevada 3A’s top scorer over the past two seasons was counting on leading the Warriors into the division playoffs for the first time in two years. Casteleyn and some teammates even believed that an elusive state tournament appearance was within reach.

Whittell needed to beat Yerington to advance to this week’s division playoffs, but a hungry-and-feisty Yerington squad ended those dreams and Casteleyn’s standout career, 80-63.

“It hasn’t hit me yet. Hopefully, this won’t be my last basketball game,” said Casteleyn, courteous as always, win or lose.

On this night, Casteleyn scored 20 points, even though two or three players were glued to him as soon as he approached the midcourt line.

“Yerington did a nice job defending him, but I don’t think there’s anybody in the state who can stop him. They slowed him down tonight,” said Whittell coach Steve Maltase. “It’s tough being a marked man like he is. He’s not a hidden secret like he was last year.”

Casteleyn, however, isn’t ready for the recreational leagues. He has already been accepted by the University of San Diego, the same school where former South Tahoe High stars Brian Bruso and Chris Grant found success.

“I’m weighing basketball and golf. I’ll sit down and think about it after golf season and see which way I want to go. Either way, I’ll walk on one of the teams,” Casteleyn said.

It’s a shame that someone with such athletic talent and success over the past four years has to take the walk-on rout. But Casteleyn’s situation is no different than the one Mike Crawford encountered following his triumphant football career at Whittell in 1991.

After walking on the University of Nevada football team in 1993, Crawford went on to make the Big West Conference’s second- and first-team all-defensive teams his final two seasons.

It’s hard to believe that Casteleyn never got a chance to showcase his skills in the Nevada state tournament, either. If he had, maybe some school would have recruited him.

“We had the talent in the locker room. It was just a matter of getting the right mind-set. We had mental lapses,” Casteleyn said.

Like Casteleyn, senior teammate Mark Witte also poured his body and soul into reaching state over the past four years.

“I was walking off the court with flashbacks to the seventh grade when we were just starting. It was making tears come to my eyes. My memories are just gone now,” Witte said. “We feel we had a great team, but some little things didn’t happen for us.”

Casteleyn didn’t need game nights to earn the respect of Whittell coaches Maltase and John Summers. They played against him every day in practice since the Warriors had only eight players.

“Trying to keep up with him on the court was virtually impossible at times. We’d be trading off and double teaming him, whatever we could to slow him down, but we didn’t have a whole lot of success,” said Summers, who humbled many a foe while playing for the Warriors in the mid-1970s.

“He’s one of the better players we’ve had in quite some time. The kid can go inside and outside, is an excellent foul shooter and pretty good under pressure.”

With 1,200-plus career points Casteleyn ranks as the Warriors’ third all-time leading scorer, trailing only Summers’ brother, Jim, and Nicky Pavich.

“I really respect him. I think he was contemplating moving down to Carson last year, but he decided to stick it out with our school,” Summers said. “He played a lot of ball with us last spring and summer, helping the other guys come along as much as they could.”

Casteleyn’s lasting memories from Whittell won’t be the nights he broke the 40-point barrier or the numerous all-league selections he’s earned. His memories are team-oriented, just like the sport he plays.

“I’ll miss the fun of being out there with all of my good buddies, going to practice and winning games this year … to know we could win a game at any given time,” Casteleyn said.


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