Rubber match for Warriors and Serpents
For the past five years, Whittell High School has revived a successful girls’ basketball program, while the Hawthorne girls have gone in a funk.
It’s been five years since Hawthorne won the last of nine state titles during a dominant 10-year run. Since then, the Warriors have been to the Northern 2A regional tournament four times (not counting this week), captured a regional title in 2006 and finished third in the state in 2006.
“It’s whole new season. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done; all that matters is what you’re going to do,” said WHS coach Nathan Tolbert, who has guided the Warriors into the regional tournament in all five of his seasons.
For Whittell senior Kendra Koskin, it’s a chance to end her career like it started. “At the beginning of the year I don’t think it was expected that we’d make the playoffs,” Koskin said. “It was kind of nice to finish off my senior year like all the other years.”
Tonight near Yerington, two programs once headed in opposite directions will meet in what amounts to a regional tournament play-in game at Rite of Passage – a venue not part of the girls’ league rotation since it is a boys’ correctional facility. The game had been originally scheduled for Wooster High in Reno.
“Hopefully there will be a crowd. I don’t think we had too much of that at our games,” said Koskin, chuckling at the thought of playing at ROP for the first time.
The teams know each other well – maybe too well. Hawthorne slipped past Whittell 26-24 on Saturday in Hawthorne and the Warriors won 51-45 Jan. 19 in Zephyr Cove.
“I’m pretty confident going into the next game,” Tolbert said. “I’m hopeful that we can make several adjustments and see if we can get our offense kick-started.”
Whittell’s offense has struggled of late with three starters out of the lineup. Two should return – sophomore Isabel Concha-Foley and Gosia Skwarlinska – for today’s 6 p.m. playoff. The winner will play top-seeded Battle Mountain in a regional semifinal Friday in Winnemucca.
“We’ve really been focusing on our offense. Hopefully that will put some order into our game,” said Koskin following a lengthy practice on Monday.
Concha-Foley’s swift return wasn’t expected after she damaged three tendons to an ankle Feb. 2 at Battle Mountain. She had 14 points and eight boards in the first meeting with Hawthorne.
The spate of injuries could benefit the Warriors in the postseason, according to Tolbert.
“It could be a blessing the way this has worked. Our bench players have gotten a lot of playing time and there should be less panic (when they enter the game),” he said.
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“Let Them Play,” rallies are taking place across California with a mission to bring back high school and youth sports.