Warriors make rare trip to state
HAWTHORNE, Nev. – Postseason boys basketball and Whittell High have never been a good mix.
The Zephyr Cove school is still pursuing its first state championship and until this season the Warriors had missed every postseason tournament since 1994.
But Whittell’s basketball reputation is now being reborn.
Whittell won its first division basketball tournament in a quarter of a century with a 49-47 upset of top-seeded Tonopah in the Northern Nevada 2A championship Saturday at Mineral County High School.
“You have no idea how good it feels … zone champions, we get a banner on the (gym) wall now and we go to state as a No. 1 seed,” said freshman guard Nick Summers. “It just keeps getting better and better. I thought yesterday was good.”
Added senior forward Luke Forvilly, “We really haven’t had too great of a basketball team in the four years I’ve been here. To win it, I’m pretty surprised.”
The Warriors (13-13) came into their first Northern Nevada 2A tournament as the third seed. But Whittell upset second-seeded Lovelock, 58-54, on Friday after trailing by nine points at halftime.
“I have to be honest with you, we came in here and our goal was to get that first win to move on and qualify for state,” said Whittell sixth-year coach Steve Maltase. “But once we won that game, we started believing in ourselves and said, ‘Hey, we’re here to get the job done,’ and they did.”
Whittell overcame serious foul trouble in each game to attain the most success it’s had in basketball since the early 1990s. In 1991, the Warriors shared the Nevada 3A Division II regular-season title, but was eliminated in the state quarterfinals. The school didn’t participate in division playoffs back then.
Senior Bryan Sigel, the tournament’s MVP; Summers and senior center Joel Warnick were each hampered with four fouls midway through the third period against Lovelock on Friday. But Sigel was the only Warrior to foul out, picking up his fifth foul in the final minute.
Sophomore point guard Nestor Flores put the Warriors ahead for good 55-54 on a drive to the basket and foul with 37.1 seconds remaining. Summers and Flores secured the win by hitting two and one free throws, respectively, in the dying seconds.
On Saturday, the Warriors lost two players to fouls – Flores and Warnick. However, Flores, the team’s floor leader, was disqualified with more than six minutes remaining.
“They did it without me at the end (Friday) and we can do it without Nest (on Saturday), you know,” Sigel said. “It’s a great bunch of guys who have a lot of heart.”
Whittell plays Southern Division champion The Meadows at 9 a.m. Thursday in the state semifinals at Lawlor Events Center in Reno. The winner plays the Tonopah-West Wendover winner for the state championship Friday.
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