Controversial last-second shot beats Warriors
Watching a replay of the game’s final play on camcorder in the Whittell High boys locker room only made Warriors basketball coach Steve Maltase more upset.
His up-and-coming team had just suffered a heartbreaking 55-54 defeat to Hawthorne on Rashed Martinez’ controversial 3-point shot with 4 seconds left Friday in Zephyr Cove.
“If we make our free throws, we wouldn’t be talking about that (nonsense),” Maltase said. “We missed six free throws in the fourth quarter. I can blame it on the refs all I want, but we beat ourselves.”
The camcorder revealed that Martinez took three steps, perhaps four, before launching his game-winning shot from the top of the 3-point arc.
The dramatic shot wiped out a furious fourth-quarter rally by the Warriors.
Trailing by five points with 3 minutes, 50 seconds left, the Warriors turned up their defensive pressure and started taking the ball to the basket for high-percentage shots.
‘We should have won this game,” said guard Nestor Flores, instrumental in Whittell’s late rally.
During a 1-minute stretch, sophomore guard Nestor Flores converted two free throws, executed a pick-and-roll culminating in a Bryan Sigel basket and stole a pass that led to a Nick Summers rebound basket as Whittell pulled to within 46-45.
After Leo Tavera converted his seventh and eighth free throws, Flores retaliated with a foul-line jumper to make it 48-47 with 2:00 remaining.
Flores wasn’t finished. After making his seventh steal, he drove into two Serpents, drawing a foul as he banked in the go-ahead shot. Flores converted the free throw for a 50-48 Whittell lead. But Whittell’s first lead of the second half only lasted 19 seconds as power forward Matt Anderson scored in the low post and sank a free throw after being fouled by Joel Warnick.
“Our outside shots were off, but our defense stepped it up, so that’s how we got back in the game,” said Flores, who finished with 11 points.
Sigel, however, put the Warriors back in front with a drive to the basket and Nick Summers added a free throw for a 53-51 Whittell lead with :42 remaining.
Hawthorne took 29 seconds off the clock before Anderson was fouled with :13 left. Anderson missed the first free toss but made the second to trim Whittell’s lead in half.
Hawthorne quickly fouled Flores in the backcourt and the sophomore missed the first but made the second to give Whittell a 54-52 lead. That set the stage for Martinez, who hadn’t made a basket up until that point.
The Warriors were expecting Tavera to take the last shot, but Martinez sprung free from Sigel on a pick and roll and was free on the top of the key for his game-winning shot.
“We were just trying to get pressure on the ball,” Sigel said. “They ran a pick and roll, and (Martinez) got off quickly and hit his shot. Nestor and I tried to switch, but we couldn’t.”
Whittell still had 4 seconds to reclaim the win, but Hawthorne broke up a pass to midcourt, forcing Sigel to throw up an off-balance shot as he was falling out of bounds. Jake Summers rebounded Sigel’s miss but his shot at the final buzzer was off the mark.
“We didn’t expect them to full-court man us. We thought they’d drop back. Joel threw it long and it got broken up,” said Sigel, who led the Warriors with 17 points.
It was Whittell’s second tight division home defeat to go along with closely contested wins over Incline and Lovelock.
“I’m getting used to it. We’ve had so many close games,” Sigel said.
Hawthorne took a 27 lead into halftime by making 17-of-19 foul shots. The Serpents benefited throughout because Whittell couldn’t buy a basket from the perimeter. For the first time all season, the Warriors failed to make a 3-pointer.
Following the disappointing loss Friday to Hawthorne, the Warriors faced a daunting trip to division-leading Tonopah.
Whittell fell behind 14-0, but used a furious fourth-quarter rally to make things interesting before falling 65-60.
Jake Summers’ third 3-point goal brought the Warriors within 63-60 with :45 to go, but Tonopah made 2-of-4 foul shots down the stretch to squeak out the victory.
Whittell fell behind by as many as 23 points in the third quarter and entered the final 8 minutes behind 51-31.
“In our huddle before the fourth quarter, I told them we basically had nothing to lose and we came a long way to play a game, we might as well give it everything we have. I was proud of them,” Maltase said.
Nick Summers led Whittell with 24 points, followed by Sigel’s 17 and Jake Summers’ 13.
Whittell, 8-12 overall and 2-3 in Northern Nevada 2A, play a nonleague game at Smith Valley on Tuesday.
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