Nelson’s 24 points lead Warriors to opening win
ZEPHYR COVE – There were lots of turnovers and lots of tired legs. But when the final buzzer sounded, there was something more important to dwell on for the Whittell boys’ basketball team.
“We won, so it was a much-better start than last season,” said sophomore guard Cody Nelson. “We got those first-game jitters out of the way, that’s for sure. We had a lot of anxiety going into this game.”
Nelson scored a game-high 24 points and pulled down five rebounds as Whittell defeated Sierra Lutheran 53-41 in a nonleague game on Tuesday night at Whittell High School. The two teams combined for more than 50 turnovers and 44 fouls, but the Warriors never trailed and also never allowed their lead to dip below 10 points after the first quarter.
“I think we are still a little out of shape,” said second-year coach Brian Mehrer, who led the Warriors to the regional playoffs last year after starting the season on a 17-game losing streak. “Our hands were dropping in the second half and we weren’t playing defense like we needed to.”
Whittell (1-0) opened the game on an 8-2 run, then went on a 10-2 spurt to take a 21-6 lead into the second quarter. The Warriors never extended their 34-18 halftime lead and even watched the Falcons cut it to 10 points several times in the fourth quarter.
“We really wanted to come out in the second half and put the game away, but that didn’t happen,” Mehrer said. “I felt we were in control, but we were right on the edge of letting them back into the game.”
Neverthless, Mehrer was pleased with his team’s performance considering he was missing two starters, including his leading scorer from last year.
Rio DeLucia had eight points and eight rebounds, while sophomore Jordan Morgan contributed nine points and seven rebounds.
Sierra Lutheran’s Jonah Young scored a team-high 19 points for the Falcons, a 1A school from Minden. Whittell and Sierra Lutheran will meet again on Friday in the first round of the Coleville tournament. The game is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. at Coleville High School.
Whittell’s JV won as well. No score was available at press time.
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