Shorthanded Downieville thwarts Whittell comeback |

Shorthanded Downieville thwarts Whittell comeback

Visiting Downieville, Calif., won the newest installment in its girls hoops series with Whittell 51-26 on Monday. Bench strength was absolutely no factor.

Illness reduced the roster of the visiting Warriors to just seven before their trip to Zephyr Cove, and midway through the third quarter, an ejection and an injury left head coach Steve Fillo with just five players. After surviving Whittell’s most serious challenge in the second quarter, Downieville held Whittell to just one field goal in the fourth to pull away for the win.

“I didn’t have any bench,” Fillo said. “I had a twisted ankle and five fouls.”

Jocelyn Mata’s field goal and Caitlin Fagan’s free throw were Whittell’s only fourth-quarter points as Downieville (5-5) blew open a game that was 37-23 after three quarters. Fagan and senior forward Courtney Benvenuto finished with eight points to lead Whittell (0-6), which couldn’t convert its open shots.

“I think, right now, getting the key combination of ladies out on the floor is what I’m trying to figure out,” said Warriors head coach Lindsay Wines. “These girls are going to have to start having a little more confidence in themselves, and I think they realize, if they play harder, they’ll have more success.”

Arlyle Shaw made Whittell’s first field goal of the game with 43 seconds left in the first quarter, and her team trailed 16-3 heading into the second. But Whittell rallied, cutting the lead to nine before Downieville built it back to 26-14 at the half. Whittell played more aggressively on offense in the second half, but couldn’t get the lead down to double digits.

“We were really frustrated at first, but after halftime, we finally got it together, just concentrated on the game instead of other things,” said Fagan, the only returning starter from last year’s team.

Downieville started rolling in the third quarter, then seemed to lose composure: Aila Hale fouled out with 1:54 left in the quarter after scoring 10 points, then drew a technical foul, giving Whittell two shots and possession. Fagan made both foul shots, but the Warriors couldn’t convert the free possession into points to cut Downieville’s lead. Whittell turned up the pressure in the second half, too, but couldn’t convert on fast-break opportunities to challenge Downieville.

“We just need to establish more confidence,” Wines said.

While Whittell couldn’t break into the win column, the Warriors worked hard on the boards, addressing one of their concerns from the beginning of the season. Benvenuto finished with nine boards, Nichole Wasson had seven, and Jocelyn Mata – who Wines played to reward her diligence in practice – had five more.

Amanda Desentz led Downieville with 17 points.

Whittell returns to action today with a 4 p.m. game at 4A South Tahoe (2-9). See related story.

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