Warriors pretty tricky in final home game
ZEPHYR COVE – Whittell High used its imagination to keep basketball fun against the Northern 2A League’s top boys’ team on Thursday night.
With three wins in 23 games and searching for their first league victory, the Warriors tried shots that normally wouldn’t leave the confines of a friendly game of H-O-R-S-E.
Joseph Hsiao shot a foul shot granny style and David Sabistina attempted a hook shot from just above foul line. But the topper was Nick Teply’s behind-the-back pass to himself off the backboard. None of the trick shots found the bottom of the net, but the Warriors still had smiles on their faces following a 78-49 loss to Rite of Passage.
“We’re having some fun while we’re doing this. You know, senior year,” said Whittell senior guard Jeff Young.
Coach Dennis Young knew the trick shots were coming, although he said he wouldn’t have permitted them earlier in the season.
“They have been practicing them all week,” coach Young said. “For the seniors, it’s been real tense for some of these guys all year. They’ve been disappointed all year, so it was good to see them come out and have a little bit of fun.”
Rite of Passage (12-10 overall, 9-2 league) didn’t shake Whittell until the third quarter, using a 17-4 run to take a 55-28 lead. The Rams’ free-wheeling offense contributed to shots being taken in 10 to 15 seconds on each possession.
“It gives us more opportunities to score if we run our plays and do everything we’re supposed to do,” said Jeff Young of ROP’s style of play.
Whittell remained in touch for most of the first half with Chris Craig and David Sabistina scoring nine and eight points, respectively. But ROP’s Andre Flippin and Luis Flores hit back-to-back three-pointers to give ROP a 33-17 lead with 2:55 left before halftime.
Whittell closed to within 38-24 at intermission on two Sabistina baskets – the last of which was set up when Teply dove on a loose ball and from the floor hooked a pass to his teammate for a layup.
“There was really no pressure on us, so it was just easy to come out and really try to run the offense, work a couple of plays. We did a lot better than most of the games this year,” Craig said.
Flores hit four trifectas in the first half and led all scorers with 21 points. Zaid Wolfe, who scored 13 points, performed one of the evening’s more entertaining plays, taking off from inside the foul line and slamming in two points.
“They are extremely athletic,” coach Young said. “If they were a little more disciplined, I think they would be, by far, the best team in the league.”
But Teply’s shot at school lore was the focal point of the postgame talk.
“It an alley-oop to himself,” Jeff Young said. “That was just a thing Nick has been planning and waiting to do. He’s pretty good at it actually. It was a little too hard tonight.”
Jeff Young led Whittell with 12 points, while Craig and Sabistina netted 10 points.
Whittell will conclude its season at Independence on Saturday, while ROP and Hawthorne will meet for the league’s regular-season title on the same day.
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