History in the making at Whittell
Before last weekend Whittell High School didn’t have much of a girls’ basketball history.
In fact, researchers had to go back as far 1985 to pinpoint the last time Whittell qualified for the the state tournament.
Interest in the Warriors’ basketball past was triggered by the school’s unexpected Northern 2A Regional Championship last weekend in Winnemucca. The third-seeded Warriors upset second-seeded Lovelock and top-seeded Battle Mountain en route to its first regional title in nearly 30 years.
Whittell’s first team
In truth, Whittell had a very promising start in basketball in 1976.
Whittell introduced the sport the year the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association started staging state tournaments for girls and 56 years after the boys crowned their first state champion.
A group of middle school girls had been after the school for several years to establish a program and they weren’t disappointed when they walked through Whittell’s doors as freshmen. One of young proponents of the team was Lindsay Wines, who went on to coach the Warriors for 11 years starting in 1991.
“Why it finally started in 1976 I have no reason,” Wines said. “Ever since the sixth grade we kept asking when they were going to get a team. There were a lot of girls in my class interested in playing basketball.”
The first Whittell team to take the court included a nucleus of eight or nine freshmen who went on to qualify for the Nevada Class A state tournament four straight seasons.
Kay and Kim Summers were key players on those teams as was Tracey Davis, daughter of late entertainer Sammy Davis Jr.
“A lot of the success had to do with depth,” Wines said.
Wines played for Whittell for two seasons before transferring to Pahrump. Strangely, Pahrump, which won four of the first five state championships, met Whittell in the state tournament in Wines’ junior and senior seasons. The Warriors won the state semifinal in 1977 and lost to Carlin in the finals, but Pahrump avenged that defeat the following season in the semis on its way to the title.
Kiger leads ’84 team to state
Joe Schmidt, a former University of Nevada, Reno player had some strong teams in the early 1980s, and Mike Kiger’s 1984-85 group was the final Whittell team to qualify for state until last Friday.
Kiger’s squad compiled an impressive 14-8 regular season record, including a 6-4 mark in the Class AA league. The Warriors didn’t know their state tournament fate until several days after ending their season because they had to wait for the outcomes of two games in Southern Nevada. Those teams had a chance to equal Whittell’s 6-4 league mark and the general perception was that they would qualify for state over Whittell in case of a tie because of their tougher competition.
But White Pine lost, giving Whittell a spot in the tournament.
Despite the efforts of Heather McGraw and others the Warriors were ousted by Boulder City 49-35 in the state quarterfinals in Las Vegas.
“At the time we had some good athletes who worked hard and we had a summer program at the time,” said Kiger, who recently retired from teaching. “You have to be team before anything else.
“It was quite an accomplishment for those girls.”
Wines coaches her ex-team
The following year Kiger turned over the program to Gary Lundergreen and before retiring he also coached football, golf and skiing at the school. Wines took command of the program in 1991 and coached the Warriors to several regional tournament appearances.
“I’m not sure what happened in the 1980s and 1990s … I think depth had a lot to do with it,” said Wines, who resigned in 2002.
Wines has continued to coach at the school, leading the boys to the state cross country championship in the fall a year after directing the girls to a state title. She has also managed the softball team to regional titles in 2002 and 2004 before resigning after last season.
A special team
Despite her distance from the program, Wines knows how special this group of athletes is and what it means to the community.
“It’s one of the greatest things I’ve seen happen,” she said. “I’m really excited.”
Wines missed last week’s regional tournament but plans to be in attendance on Friday night when the Warriors meet Needles in a semifinal at North Valleys High School in Reno and on Saturday at Lawlor Events Center if the Warriors make the state finals for the first time in 29 years.
“I think they have as good of a chance as anybody in the tournament,” Wines said. “The way these girls are playing right now they have to have Battle Mountain nervous.”
Battle Mountain won the state championship two years ago and boasts one of the state’s top players in Tara Tremayne.
History isn’t on Whittell’s side, but these Warriors don’t appear satisfied with the history they’ve already made.
“We want to take it all the way,” said Whittell senior guard Tara Scaduto. “We don’t want to go down there with the goal of winning one game since we’ve gotten this far.
“I know if we buckle down and focus hard enough and want it bad enough, I think we can get that far.”
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