Warriors boys b-ball wins last three at Whittell Invitational
ZEPHYR COVE — The Whittell boys basketball team is rolling headed into league play. The Warriors won their last three games at the Whittell Invitational Tournament, beating Mammoth (Mammoth Lakes, Calif.) last Friday and downing Lee Vining (Calif.) and Loyalton (Calif.) last Saturday to finish nonleague play with an 8-1 mark.
“I thought we played really well — we got better as the games went on and we were moving the ball really well,” Warriors head coach Phil Bryant said. “The big thing that was critical here was establishing depth — and we got some great minutes out of our bench guys.”
The Warriors started fast to down Loyalton 74-47 in their tournament finale last Saturday. Whittell hit three-pointers on its first four possessions en route to a 31-point first quarter, and never looked back in a lopsided win over the Grizzlies.
“That was probably one of the biggest quarters we’ve had since I’ve been here,” Bryant said.
Guard Palmer Chaplin scored a game-high 17 points — including five three-pointers — and dished out 11 assists against Loyalton. Guard Colin Buchholz added 14 points, forward Quinn Kixmiller finished with nine points and nine rebounds and forward Troy Libert had eight points and seven rebounds.
“We think he can be a factor,” Byrant said of Libert, a 6-foot-4-inch freshman. “He’s gotten over the nervousness and is now playing more like a varsity player.”
In its first game last Saturday, Whittell beat Lee Vining 75-37. The Warriors led by one after the first quarter, and broke the game open by outscoring the Tigers 24-5 in the second quarter to take a 20-point lead at the break.
“We were a little excited in the beginning, but we made some adjustments in our press and in our offense,” Bryant said.
Buchholz scored a game-high 22 points in the win to go along with four rebounds, four steals and three assists. Chaplin finished with 17 points, 10 assists and five steals, while Kixmiller added 10 points and 10 rebounds.
“Colin just went off — he’s shooting the ball really well and he’s playing good defense,” Bryant said. “He’s now being the player that we thought he would be at this point in his career.”
Last Friday, Whittell beat Mammoth 72-44 for a second straight win. The Warriors led by 20 points at halftime and continued to open up their lead after the break.
“We got off to a really quick start — it was the press, being aggressive and making really good decisions,” Bryant said. “It went really well for us in every way.”
Chaplin led Whittell with a game-high 17 points against Mammoth to go along with 10 assists and six steals. Kixmiller and forward Bryce Bronken each added 12 points — Kixmiller also pulled down 13 rebounds.
“Quinn has just been a beast on the boards for us — he’s been a dominant player,” Bryant said.
The Warriors won four of their five games at the Whittell Invitational, bouncing back from an opening loss against Incline (Incline Village, Nev.) with four straight wins. Whittell begins Div. IV West League play Friday night at Pyramid Lake and hosts Coleville the following day at 3:30 p.m.
“We’re in a good position going into league, especially with the depth — that was our concern,” Bryant said. “It’s big that we can be where we are right now and be comfortable with what we’re doing. All the guys have stepped up their games.”