Cold-shooting Warriors suffer costly loss to Pyramid Lake, eye No. 2 seed
The Whittell Warriors recorded their biggest win this season and most painful loss in back-to-back basketball games.
They followed it with a pair of victories, but that loss likely cost the Warriors a 1A West League championship and the top seed for the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association regional, state-qualifying, tournament that begins next week.
A week after grabbing control of league by beating Sierra Lutheran, the Warriors handed it back with a 53-50 loss to Pyramid Lake in Nixon, Nev.
“Well, it finally caught up to us — the failure to defend the key and failure to rebound with authority,” said Warriors head coach Phil Bryant. “Add those to the fact that our best scorers went a total of 7 for 40 and you get a loss to the last place team in our league. I have to admit that this was the most difficult loss to accept during my seven years at Whittell. I have told these guys all year that if we didn’t defend the paint better and rebound consistently, it would catch up to us. That is how we lost to SL and now to PL. Every team we face from here on out will use this game as a model for their game plans.”
The Warriors (16-2, 5-2 West) bounced back with wins Tuesday and Wednesday over Virginia City (7-11, 2-7 West) and Excel Christian (2-15, 1-7 West), but need a win over Sage Ridge (8-8, 6-2 West) tonight to claim the league’s No. 2 seed if the standings stay as they are.
Whittell can normally fill up the basket from long range or at the very least get open shots within its offense.
The Warriors got shots, but they didn’t fall. They hit just 4 of 25 from 3-point range, were 4 of 11 from the free throw line and were 21 of 81 overall from the floor.
“We have been able to get by with our perimeter offense but not in this game,” Bryant said. “We are not a mentally or physically tough team and that is not going to get any better in the games we have left because those elements haven’t improved since day 1 of the season. It has been our Achilles heel and that weakness got exposed for the second time his year.”
Even with the poor shooting and rebounding, the Warriors had several shots to win or at least tie in the final moments, but a time out instruction was missed, they missed their freebies and a player received an untimely technical foul.
Isaiah Womack led the Warriors with 18 points, four assists and three steals but the team’s three leading scorers Trent Dingman, Dylan Wade and Zack Johns had 10, six and nine points, respectively.
Sterling Manchester added four points and team-high five rebounds and Malachi Womack had three points.
“We have relied primarily on five guys all year and just added a sixth into the rotation,” Bryant said. “I better find a way to solve the issues of defending the paint and rebounding or we will be ending our season much earlier than we had hoped.
“The worse part of the loss in my mind is handing SL a league championship through the back door. That really hurts after rising to the occasion against them head-to-head. I don’t think I will ever get over that.”
In the Warriors 67-33 win over Virginia City, the Warriors took out their frustration right from the opening tip. They exploded to a 25-9 lead after the first quarter and pulled away in every period after.
The next day, Excel Chrsitian decided not to make the trip to Zephyr Cove and forfeited the contest.
The Warriors (18-2, 7-2 West) will try to lock up the league’s No. 2 seed Tuesday when Sage Ridge (8-9, 6-3 West) visits for a 7:30 p.m. tip-off.
The game was scheduled for Friday but was postponed due to weather.