Esquivel keys Whittell’s league win
ZEPHYR COVE – Megan Esquivel started the girls’ basketball season on the junior varsity. On Wednesday night, she was the star in Whittell’s varsity game with Hawthorne.
Esquivel, a 5-foot-9 junior, scored a team-high 21 points as Whittell posted a crucial 58-41 Northern 2A win.
The win was Whittell’s first in league play, giving the Warriors a one-game lead over the Serpents for the final regional playoff spot. The teams meet again on Saturday in Hawthorne.
“It’s good to have that first win and we’re doing fine,” said Whittell coach Nathan Tolbert. “All we have to do is beat Hawthorne one more time and we’re automatically in.”
Esquivel began the season on the junior varsity since she would have been reduced to a reserve role on varsity. She dominated at the JV level, scoring as many as 25 points in a game.
“I still think I made the right choice, but she proved that she deserved to be here the whole time,” Tolbert said.
With junior center Kelly Karmann on the verge of returning to the lineup, Tolbert will be challenged to keep Esquivel in the regular rotation.
Usually players are reluctant or incapable of driving to their left, but Esquivel repeatedly burned the Serpents with her left hand. All three of her fourth-quarter baskets were off drives to the left side. She finished with seven field goals and seven free throws.
Whittell broke open a tight game with an 11-2 run to close the half. Woods scored five of her 13 points during the surge, which allowed the Warriors to take a 32-18 halftime lead.
Esquivel scored five quick points in the second half as the Warriors took a 41-18 advantage. Whittell’s full-court pressure defense contributed as well, as it forced a 10-second back-court violation.
“I’m really glad that we won and I’m hoping it’s going to lead to a streak,” Esquivel said. “We’ve been team bonding a lot and working really hard at practice, and it’s made a big difference.”
Whittell led by as many as 23 points before two three-point baskets by Courtney Baker made the final score more respectable. Baker led Hawthorne with 12 points.
Whittell (13-7) will play host to second-place Lovelock on Friday night at 6.
WARRIORS 58, SERPENTS 41
HAWTHORNE (1-14, 0-5)
Vinson 2, 0-0, 4; Butcher 3, 2-4, 8; Baker 5, 0-1, 12; Canady 2, 0-0, 4; Brown 1, 1-2, 3; Cox 0, 3-6, 3; Villareal 3, 1-3, 7. Totals 16, 7-16, 41.
WHITTELL (13-7, 1-4)
Woods 5, 3-6, 13; Kacirek 5, 0-2, 10; Ingenluyff 2, 2-5, 6; Scaduto 1, 0-0, 2; Esquivel 7, 7-12, 21; Koskin 1, 2-3, 4; Lowe 0, 0-2, 0; Browne 0, 2-5, 2. Totals 21, 16-33, 58.
Hawthorne 9 9 9 14 – 41
Whittell 17 15 12 14 – 58
Three-pointers: Baker 2. Fouls: Hawthorne 25, Whittell 14. Fouled out: Canady.
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