Warriors, Mustangs know each other too well
It’s been 21 years since Whittell High last qualified for the girls’ state basketball tournament.
But for the second straight season the Warriors are one win away from ending that infamous dry spell.
A familiar roadblock is in the Warriors’ path as they try to reach next week’s Nevada 2A tournament at Lawlor Events Center in Reno – Lovelock.
The Mustangs, the defending Northern 2A regional champion, edged Whittell 61-60 in last year’s semifinals. The two teams will meet again at 9 a.m. Friday at the Winnemucca Indoor Events Center in Winnemucca with berths to the regional championship game and the state tournament at stake.
Friday’s game will be the ninth meeting between the schools in the past three seasons.
“We’ve been scouting them forever,” said Whittell coach Nathan Tolbert. “We know their plays. We know their defense and their offense. We haven’t even thought about Battle Mountain. We’ll worry about them on Saturday if we get there.”
Lovelock has won four of the past five matchups, but Whittell won the previous encounter 51-47 in Zephyr Cove. That upset win helped the Warriors overcome a slow division start that had them tied for last place until the final weeks of the regular season. Whittell (16-7, 4-4) won its final four league games, finishing third, a game behind second-place Lovelock (16-8, 5-3).
“We’re more excited than nervous,” said Whittell senior guard Sarah Ingenluyff. “Personally, the season is about getting Lovelock back from last year, but the team goal is to make it to state. Lovelock is very aggressive so we’re just going to have to play our game.”
The Mustangs pounded Whittell by 33 points back in January, but the Warriors were missing two key starters in Katrina Kacirek and Kelly Karmann. Both are injury free going into regionals.
Lovelock, however, has some uncertainty with one of its star players. Krystal Glass, one of Northern Nevada’s top scorers at 16.8 points per game, didn’t play when the teams met in Zephyr Cove. Glass is also averaging 6.8 assists per game.
She missed the game in Zephyr Cove because of a team suspension, and it is unclear whether she’ll suit up Friday. Lovelock coach Steve Cerini didn’t return phone calls on Wednesday.
Glass was a tough matchup for the Warriors in last year’s tournament, scoring 28 points. She hit the go-ahead free throws in the final minute as the Mustangs withstood a furious Whittell rally.
The winner of Friday’s first semifinal will play the survivor of league champ Battle Mountain vs. Silver Stage in the finals at 2:30 p.m Saturday.
“We’re loose and confident,” Tolbert said. “That’s the buzz. Everybody is really relaxed.”
Whittell only has two postseason victories in the past 19 years.
Northern 2A tournament glance
At Winnemucca Indoor Events Center
Lovelock vs. Whittell, 9 a.m.
Battle Mountain vs. Silver Stage, 3:40 p.m.
Semifinal winners, 2:30 p.m.
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