Sights on state: Whittell boys b-ball aims for second Div. IV championship in three seasons
2015-16 Regular Season Schedule
Dec. 3-5 Fall River Tournament
Dec. 9-12 Whittell Tournament
Dec. 9 vs. Incline, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 10 vs. Owyhee, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 11 vs. North Tahoe, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 12 vs. Greenville, noon
Dec. 12 vs. Dayton, 4:30 p.m.
Jan. 4 vs. North Valleys, 5:30 p.m.
*Jan. 5 at Sierra Lutheran, 7:30 p.m.
*Jan. 8 at Excel Christian, 7:30 p.m.
*Jan. 9 vs. Smith Valley, 5:30 p.m.
*Jan. 12 vs. Coleville, 7:30 p.m.
*Jan. 15 vs. Mineral County, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 19 at Pershing County, 5:30 p.m.
*Jan. 23 vs. Virginia City, 5:30 p.m.
*Jan. 26 at Pyramid Lake, 7:30 p.m.
*Jan. 29 at Mineral County, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 30 vs. Loyalton, 4 p.m.
*Feb. 2 at Coleville, 7:30 p.m.
*Feb. 5 at Smith Valley, 5:30 p.m.
*Feb. 6 vs. Excel Christian, 5:30 p.m.
*Feb. 9 vs. Pyramid Lake, 7:30 p.m.
*Feb. 12 vs. Sierra Lutheran, 7:30 p.m.
*Feb. 13 at Virginia City, 5:30 p.m.
Home games in bold
*Div. IV West League games
For the Whittell boys basketball team, ending the 2015-16 season with a Div. IV state championship is the ultimate objective. And it’s a goal the Warriors see as completely attainable.
“We want to take things right in order,” Warriors coach Phil Bryant said. “We want to win the tournaments we’re in, we want to win league and we want to win a state championship. We have no excuses — we have the talent enough to win.”
After capturing the state title during the 2013-14 season, Whittell fell two wins short last year. The Warriors went a combined 50-8 over those campaigns, and expect similar success this winter.
“We have some goals. You don’t always reach those along the way, but it’s the ability to adjust, step back and move forward,” Bryant said. “We don’t want to set our sights short — we really want to compete.”
Whittell returns a majority its scoring from last year’s state semifinalists, including leading scorers Palmer Chaplin, Colin Buchholz and Quinn Kixmiller. Chaplin averaged 21.3 points per game and 8.1 assists last season, and the Cal Lutheran-bound senior is on pace to shatter the Warriors’ career scoring mark — his ability to create shots for others will be key this year.
“He has to be willing to give up a couple of shots to give other guys some shots,” Bryant said. “He doesn’t need 20 shots to score 20 points — but he’s still going to be our high-volume shooter.”
Buchholz scored 13.0 points per game last season, and was second on the team with 44 3-pointers. Kixmiller averaged 9.0 points and a team-high 9.1 rebounds as a junior, and the 6-foot-3 forward blossomed into a force inside during the course of the season.
Players expected to step into a greater role for the Warriors this season include seniors Andy Delgado and Aubrey Felton, juniors Dismas Womack and Sam Berry along with sophomores Corey Huber and Troy Libert. Another sophomore, Caleb Moretti, will make his varsity debut after leading last year’s JV team in scoring.
“We don’t have anybody that wants to take the scoring load away from Palmer, but they want to score and they want to contribute,” Bryant said. “It’s those guys doing what they can do and staying within the frame of their games.”
Whittell still plans to play an uptempo style this season — including full-court pressure defensively. But when the Warriors have the ball, their experience and talent will allow for less play calls from the sidelines and a somewhat looser approach.
“We’re a little more freelance, and it has helped some of the guys simply play basketball,” Bryant said. “We don’t need to have something to run, we just need to be smart enough to do the right thing.”
Whittell got a late start on the hardwood after a football season that concluded in the Div. IV State championship, but has quickly made up for lost time. On Sunday, Nov. 22, the day after the state title game, the Warriors were back on the court for open gym — practices started the following day.
“We have a good group of kids and we need to make sure that they’re working as hard as they can to be as good as they can,” Bryant said.
The Warriors opened their season Thursday, Dec. 3, against Big Valley (Bieber, Calif.) at the Fall River Tournament. After three games in three days there, the Warriors return home to play in the Whittell Tournament — opponents include Incline in their home opener on Wednesday, Dec. 9 along with Owyhee (Nev.), North Tahoe, Greenville (Calif.) and Dayton (Nev.).
Whittell returns to action in 2016 with a nonleague contest against Div. I North Valleys (Reno, Nev.) on Jan. 4. The Warriors open Div. IV West League play at Sierra Lutheran the following night.
“There are a lot of good teams in our division and our league, and we have a good nonleague schedule,” Bryant said. “We’re stepping up as much as we can. We need that to get ready for those important games late.”