Karmann healthy and ready to face Lovelock
A lot of positives came out of the 2004-05 season for the Whittell girls’ basketball team.
The Warriors finished 10-9 and posted their first winning season in nearly two decades. They also discovered the sophomore tandem of Kelly Karmann and Jessica Woods would be a force over the next two years.
But last season wasn’t as much about what did happen as what didn’t happen. That’s because Whittell fell one game short of the state tournament after losing 61-60 to Lovelock in the Northern 2A Regional tournament semifinals.
Karmann doesn’t want to see this season end the same way, and now she’s in a position to prevent it from happening after missing almost two months because of jaw surgery.
“Everyone is really excited and we just want to prove to Lovelock that we’re better than them,” Karmann said. “This is a really important game because they’re at full strength and we’re at full strength. It’s the final matchup between us.”
When the Warriors (16-7) face the Mustangs (16-8) on Friday at 9 a.m. at the Winnemucca Indoor Events Center, both teams will finally be at full-strength.
While Lovelock beat Whittell 64-31 on Jan. 13, the Warriors were missing Karmann and Katrina Kacirek, who was recuperating from a knee injury. Then in Whittell’s 51-47 win against the Mustangs on Feb. 3, Kacirek and Karmann were healthy, but Lovelock was missing leading scorer Krystal Glass.
“We’ve seen them at full strength, but they haven’t seen us at full strength yet,” Whittell coach Nathan Tolbert said.
Karmann played in the last game against Lovelock, but it was her first action since having jaw surgery the first week of December. She only played 2 or 3 minutes that game, so it’s been a long road back for the 6-foot-1 center.
“It’s just kind of getting back to the whole idea of playing again,” said Karmann, who is averaging 10.2 rebounds per game. “I kind of forgot how to do some things like plays and other stuff. I really lost how to relate to the team. I had to get that back.”
Since Karmann has returned to the lineup, the Warriors have won three straight games and are 100 percent again after a mid-season slide. Whittell started the season 12-1, then lost Kacirek and its next five games.
Once Kacirek returned from injury, most people thought the Warriors would return to form. Karmann, though, was a big piece of the puzzle and the Warriors still were left searching for an identity.
Junior transfer Joan Browne’s minutes increased during Karmann’s absence. When Kacirek went down, the same thing happened to junior forward Megan Esquivel, who was moved up from the JV team in December.
Both proved to be capable replacements for the starters, but the difficult part for Tolbert came when everyone was healthy again and he had reconfigure the puzzle.
“Kelly was a bigger loss than people think,” Tolbert said. “You can’t replace Katrina or Kelly. We got along without them, but I think the biggest thing was timing and chemistry. It kind of threw things off because people weren’t used to playing with Megan and Joan.
“They did a great job, but it’s all about timing. This team is a family. You bring new parts into the family and they’re not as tight as the rest.”
Now that’s not a problem. As Karmann’s playing time has increased, so has her production and everyone else’s.
In her second game back, she pulled down eight rebounds in just 5 minutes against Hawthorne. Then in a 64-41 win over Silver Stage on Feb. 7, Karmann had eight points, 11 rebounds and six blocks.
Meanwhile, Esquivel contributed nine points in the win, an indication the puzzle is solved and the Warriors are feeling as confident as ever against Lovelock.
“We played against them the first time without Katrina and Kelly and our chemistry was a little off,” said senior point guard Sarah Ingenluyff, who will try and help Whittell make the state tournament for the first time in 21 years. “I think they underestimate Kelly, but I think people kind of underestimate our team as a whole. Now we have both of them back and that’s not a problem anymore.”
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