Warriors embrace small ball
For the past two years, the Whittell High girls’ basketball program has enjoyed one of its most successful periods in school history.
The Warriors have posted a 39-14 record, including a regional title and state semifinal appearance, during that span.
Continuing that success will fall on the shoulders of five returning players who must overcome significant losses to graduation.
Gone are Jessica Woods, Kelly Karmann and Megan Equivel. And promising sophomore Hannah Daly decided to focus on her soccer career and strengthening an injured knee.
Yet, the Warriors have a core of expierence players who are accustomed to winning. Wendy Barrientos, Brittney Makara and Gabriella Tracy give the Warriors experience in the backcourt.
And very likely a different game plan – small ball.
“We have to expect more out of them,” said Whittell coach Nathan Tolbert. “Our four guards are pretty solid and almost interchangeable. We don’t fall off with anybody. We haven’t had that luxury in a while.”
Senior post Kendra Koskin is the only remaining player with post experience and junior forward Tierney McKool may not come off the floor often if less inexperienced players don’t develop quickly.
Koskin averaged 8.1 points and 7.3 boards per game last season but defenses will pay more attention to her this season with the graduation losses.
“It’s going to be interesting,” Koskin said. “It’s fun. I like being the leader along with Tierney and Brittney. Hopefully, we’ll have a good team.”
The continued development of the five returners is necessary, especially since there is little experience behind them. Sophomore Isabel Concha-Foley brings size off the bench at 5-11. Sophomore Heather Esquivel is beginning her second season of organized basketball and she will be asked to play the post and forward. Sirena Mesa, a junior, has only one season of basketball behind her as she prepares to spell players in the post. Junior Lupe Martinez is a reserve guard and junior Gosia Swarlinska, an exchange student form Poland, has little experience on the court but is making up for it with attitude and work ethic, according to Tolbert.
“This year you will see a basketball team, full of basketball players, that runs a disciplined offense and intimidating pressure defense that utilizes each player to their potential. If we cannot make that happen, it will be a long season,” Tolbert said.
Tolbert considered resigning following last year’s regional semifinal, but he couldn’t leave his seniors. The birth of his third son, Evan James, two months ago has added more challenges to his daily schedule, but Tolbert said his family is comfortable with him coaching this season.
“This is my first year working for myself, so I’m home through the day,” he said. “I couldn’t leave the program without knowing who was going to come (in). My seniors have been with me since the beginning.”
Koskin couldn’t be more pleased.
“It really means a lot to me. He’s so much more than a coach to me. It has lot to do with the way and why I play,” Koskin said.
There have been subtle changes in the program with Bill Harvey bringing strength and conditioning to the girls’ preseason workouts. Also, the addition of Paul Tracy to the coaching staff has enabled Tolbert to hasten the development of his inexperienced players.
“We’re going to work hard and by the time the season is over, we want to not only be the most improved team and we might be surprising some people,” Tolbert said.
Coach: Nathan Tolbert (fifth season)
Last year: 21-6, regional semifinalist.
Key returners: Brittney Makara, senior guard; Gabriella Tracy, sophomore guard; Kendra Koskin, senior post; Tierney McKool, junior forward; Wendy Barrientos, senior guard.
Key losses: All-leaguers Jessica Woods and Megan Esquivel; and center Kelly Karmann.
Season opener: Sierra Luthern at 3 p.m. Friday in Coleville tournament.
Home opener: Dec. 4 at 6 p.m. vs. Coleville.
Date Opponent Time
Friday Coleville tourney 3 p.m.
Saturday Coleville tourney TBA
Dec. 4 Coleville 6 p.m.
Dec. 6 At Incline 5:30 p.m.
Dec. 7 Virginia City 6 p.m.
Dec. 11 Incline 5:30 p.m.
Dec. 13-15 Comstock Classic TBA
Dec. 18 At Smith Valley 6 p.m.
Dec. 21 At Pyramid Lake 4:30 p.m.
Dec. 26-29 Seaside Tourney TBA
Jan. 4 Lovelock 3 p.m.
Jan. 5 At Silver Stage 3 p.m.
Jan. 8 At Virginia City 6 p.m.
Jan. 12 Battle Mountain 2 p.m.
Jan. 19 Hawthorne 3 p.m.
Jan. 22 Portola 5:30 p.m.
Jan. 25 At Lovelock 6 p.m.
Jan. 26 Silver Stage 3 p.m.
Jan. 29 North Tahoe 6 p.m.
Feb. 2 At Battle Mtn. 3 p.m.
Feb. 5 At North Tahoe 6 p.m.
Feb. 9 At Hawthorne 3 p.m.
Feb. 15-16 Regionals at Winnemucca
Feb. 22-23 State in Reno
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around the Lake Tahoe Basin and beyond make the Tahoe Tribune's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User
“Let Them Play,” rallies are taking place across California with a mission to bring back high school and youth sports.