Two teams enter Tuesday needing a win
One thing is certain about today’s border girls basketball battle between Whittell and South Tahoe: One team will get a much-needed victory.
The non-league 3A vs. 4A game at 4 p.m. in Zephyr Cove matches two teams trying to translate the progress they’ve made into wins. While both have battled inexperience and youth, neither has been able to reflect their victories over adversity with wins on the court.
“I think this is a game we really need to win to propel us into the division and get us ready,” said South Tahoe head coach Tim Jaureguito. “I told the girls: We’ve got to win the last game of this century and come out and win the first game of the next century.”
South Tahoe (2-9) has just one non-forfeit win, a 68-35 win over Trinity, Calif., at the Lady Saints Classic in Napa, Calif. Whittell (0-6) still is looking for its first victory after a 51-26 home loss to Downieville, Calif. on Monday. The teams’ struggles have been similar: Both have played well defensively, but haven’t been able to get in an offensive flow at the right times.
“These girls also get themselves taken out of the game, too, emotionally,” said Whittell head coach Lindsay Wines. “It seems that they let a little thing blow their concentration, and they can’t do that.”
Even in losing to Downieville, the Warriors showed their coach things she liked. One element she was happy with was the play of Jocelyn Mata. Mata had a field goal and five rebounds in limited action, and kept moving and driving in the Warriors offense, even after the game was out of hand.
“She hustled. She played as well as I’ve ever seen her play,” Wines said.
Wines also was pleased with the combination of Caitlin Fagan, Alisha Roth, Ashley Berns, Nichole Wasson and Courtney Benvenuto – a senior playing her first year of basketball for Whittell – on the floor. Benvenuto and Fagan had the most impressive statistics for Whittell. Each had a team-high eight points. Benvenuto, 5-3, added nine rebounds, a steal and an assist, and Wasson, also 5-3, had seven boards against a much bigger Downieville Warriors front line.
Fagan is the lone Warrior to return from last year’s team. While she continues to lead the offense, Whittell seemed to discover more options and more players willing to shoot on Monday.
“It’s important to be able to run and pass it off and know somebody else is going to do something with it,” said Fagan, who identified rebounding and hustle as two of the parts of the game Whittell needs to work on.
South Tahoe worked on shooting during practice Monday. While Jaureguito was pleased with the way his team ran its offense against Yerington Dec. 21, the inability of the team to hit open shots hurt the Vikings. Defense – and 17 points from sophomore guard Lindsey Hitt – helped South Tahoe close a nine-point gap late in the game, but the visiting Lions still won 60-58. Jaureguito called the game a must-win last week.
“I know that they’re a young team,” he said of Whittell. “We want to try to put some pressure on them early. Obviously, we want to play good defense and just do the things that it takes to win.”
South Tahoe seemed to be out of the mix after Yerington’s run in the third quarter, but fought its way back in. Tirah Samura and Chantelle Young combined for 23 rebounds, and the backcourt forced the Lions into turnovers down the stretch.
The hopes of both teams hinge on defense. And the win will be very important, whichever team can capture it. But this early in the season, that’s not the only consideration.
“I want my girls to be in the mind-set just to play hard the whole time they’re out there,” Wines said. “A win would be nice, but a good effort by all of them would be even better.”
Prospective starting lineups:
4 p.m. Tuesday, Whittell High School
South Tahoe (2-9) (head coach: Tim Jaureguito) at Whittell (0-6) (head coach: Lindsay Wines)
G – Alisha Roth, 5-6 junior: All three of her points against Downieville were free throws
G – Caitlin Fagan, 5-6 junior: Whittell’s only starter returning from last year’s team had eight against Downieville
G – Nichole Wasson, 5-3 senior: Senior guard grabbed seven boards against Downieville’s much bigger front line
F- Courtney Benvenuto, 5-3 senior: First-year basketball player pulled down nine rebounds to go with team-high eight points Monday
F/C – Jocelyn Mata, 5-8 junior, Ashley Berns, 5-9 sophomore, or Jahna Rico, 5-4 senior: Each possibility brings different aspect to position
G – Amy Carter, 5-6 sophomore: One of three sophomore guards on team takes over from last week’s high scorer, Lindsey Hitt
G/F – Melissa Johnson, 5-9 senior: Forced several turnovers down the stretch and made a big shot in South Tahoe’s loss to Yerington
F – Cassandra Psomas, 5-7 junior: Jaureguito subs in sophomore guard Jen Galea when South Tahoe goes small
F – Tirah Samura, 5-9 senior: Relentless rebounder had 15 against Yerington
C – Chantelle Young, 5-11 senior: Tallest player on South Tahoe roster had eight boards against Yerington
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