Warriors defend home court; Flores picks Whittell up with his defense in nonleague win
When the basket is as big as a thimble to your offensive players, then you better turn up the defensive volume to win the basketball game.
That’s just what the Whittell High Warriors did in their 58-45 home-opening victory against North Tahoe on Tuesday night in Zephyr Cove.
With sophomore point guard Nestor Flores as annoying as a hungry fly on the beach, North Tahoe saw its passing lanes shrink and an early five-point disappear as well.
“We were trying to dictate the tempo. We wanted to do that from the beginning and we didn’t. But once we did, we got in a little transition game with them and that kind of helped us out,” said coach Steve Maltase, whose Warriors won despite shooting 38.9 percent.
Flores’ defensive presence jump-started the offense as senior Bryan Sigel delivered the key buckets with his team-leading 18 points.
“I just anticipate the pass all over the place. I just play tough ‘D’ and force them to their weak hand,” said Flores, who is averaging six steals per game and eclipsed that mark Tuesday with 10-plus thefts.
After reinjuring a sore ankle in the second quarter, Flores earned some more respect from his coach.
“He’s been tough, and he’s been injured, too,” Maltase said. “If we can get him at full strength … he’s so quick, he’s unbelievable.”
Sigel buried 6-of-13 field goal attempts, including a pair of 3-pointers. The length of his range allowed Sigel to find his perimeter shot over the Lakers’ 2-3 zone defense.
“It just depends on what I feel I can do,” Sigel said. “(Coach) doesn’t tell me how far I can shoot.”
“He had one breakout game a couple weeks ago, but if we can get him to do that every night, we’re going to be pretty tough,” Maltase said.
The nonleague win enabled Whittell to avenge a 48-37 defeat to North Tahoe in its season opener Nov. 28 in Tahoe City.
“This feels great. It’s payback,” said Flores, who also made three treys and was the only other Warrior in double figures with 11 points.
Reserve Jake Summers’ 3-pointer gave Whittell the lead for good, 39-37, with 1 minute, 5 seconds remaining in the third quarter. Flores opened the fourth-quarter scoring with a three of his own and came back with another trey to make the score 47-37 with 3:23 left.
Unlike the season opener when the Lakers used 12 fourth-quarter free throws to record the win, their poor charity shooting did them in Tuesday night. North Tahoe made just 8-of-22 attempts.
Neither team led by more than five points in the first half. Whittell’s biggest lead was four points, while North Tahoe enjoyed its largest lead of five at halftime, 28-23.
Whittell’s best offensive thrust came midway through the second period after Maltase called for a full-court press. A long 3-pointer by Sigel and deft left-handed bank shot by freshman Nick Summers following a turnover put Whittell ahead 19-15.
“We worked really hard on defense in practice and broke down every position. We were doing it all to prepare for this game, and it worked out just fine,” Sigel said.
North Tahoe’s Miles Miller led all scorers with 19 points, including three 3-pointers.
Whittell, 3-6, hits the road for its final preholiday game Tuesday in Yerington. JV action starts at 4 p.m., with the varsity game to follow at 5:30 p.m.
Fox leads JV in defeat
Whittell’s junior varsity slipped to 1-3, falling to North Tahoe 47-33. A one-point second quarter and rebounding deficiencies led to the home loss.
Parker Fox scored 10 points and Bryon Jones nine for the Warriors, while James Wright topped the Lakers with 18.
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