Warriors settle for one-game playoff
A second straight playoff berth was there for the taking for Whittell High’s boys basketball team on Saturday night.
There was only one problem — Hawthorne, which had already qualified for the postseason — didn’t cooperate.
The Serpents, playing their second game in as many nights, overcame a slow start for a 47-36 victory in Zephyr Cove.
The loss left the Warriors (1-7) in a fourth-place tie with Tonopah in the Northern 2A Division.
As a result, Whittell and Tonopah will meet at a yet-to-be-determined neutral site to decide the final participant in next weekend’s division tournament in Lovelock.
“Let’s get the kids playing basketball, so they’re not frustrated,” said Amaral, who is also preparing the school’s baseball team for its upcoming season. “Right now, I’ve got to get them healthy.”
The adrenaline of playing for a playoff spot carried the Warriors to a 14-8 lead after 8 minutes. But the effort — whether it was due to some players playing with the flu — didn’t continue.
“From the last minute of the first period through the second period we were playing defense like we were sleepwalking,” Amaral said. “I know we have kids who are sick, but we didn’t execute when we needed to execute.”
Hawthorne, which clinched the division’s third seed by beating Tonopah on Friday night, took command by outscoring its hosts 17-3 in the second period. The Warriors’ only second-quarter points came on Jake Summers’ 3-pointer.
Hawthorne senior Avinash Bhakta scored all eight of his points, including a pair of treys, during the second-quarter run.
Flores, however, hit a pair of threes and Summers contributed one as Whittell pulled to within a point late in the third period. But Hawthorne stayed in front by dominating the Warriors on the boards over the final 10 minutes.
“We get close, but we can’t get the shots to fall,” said Amaral, whose club dropped to 2-21 overall. “If we don’t have Ryan Salomon penetrating inside and getting shots, we have to rely on the perimeter shooting of Nestor and Jake. And if they’re not hitting, it makes for a long nigh.”
Salomon and Summers each scored 10 points to lead the Warriors.
Serpents complete perfect regular season
A young Whittell High squad saw first-hand what they hope to become in their season-finale on Saturday in Zephyr Cove.
Although the Hawthorne Serpents delivered a painful lesson, the Warriors didn’t hang their heads following the 89-30 rout.
“They are a really, really good team but we wanted it,” said Stephanie Evans, one of two Warrior seniors playing her last game. “We knew it was our last game and we came out and played really hard.”
That passion for the game should help the Warriors build on a 3-21 season.
“I see a strong three years for us,” said WHS coach Lindsay Wines, who gave significant playing time this season to two sophomores and freshmen along with four juniors. “The girls are already committed to doing some playing in the off-season. I think they realize that’s what we have to do have any kind of success.”
David Gelmstedt, who is in the midst of one of the all-time great success stories in Nevada prep history, also is a believer in the transformation that is occuring in Zephyr Cove.
“They’ve gotten a lot better at handling the ball and making passes. They’ve really improved,” Gelmstedt said. “Their JV is pretty and the younger varsity kids are doing a lot of good things.”
Hawthorne, which has won seven state titles in the past eight seasons, showcased two of Nevada’s best basketball players in completing a regular season that saw it win 25 games. Juniors Delicia Jernigan and Sidney Orndorff blistered the Warriors for 52 points and many other instinctive plays that didn’t show up in the final scoresheet.
“They play the game how they have been taught, and they’re just good,” Evans said. “They don’t have to play dirty … they just play the game.”
Jernigan did as she pleased, either settling for her deadly 3-point shot or using her cunning ball fakes to slice in for short jumpers and dishes for high-percentage shots.
“She’s a tremendous athlete,” said Wines of Jernigan, who netted 22 points. “Athletic-wise, she’s probably the best I’ve seen.”
Gelmstedt revealed that Jernigan is being recruited by Arizona, Oregon and UTEP.
The highlight of Jernigan’s athletcism came in the first quarter as Hawthorne was compiling an insurmountable 25-2 edge. Trailing a missed shot, Jernigan leaped and put the ball back in the basket in one motion.
Ashley Wines actually matched Jernigan with three 3-pointers, but the Warriors had difficulty finishing their opportunities.
Most satisfying for the Warriors was how they finished the game. In the final 90 seconds, the Warriors repeatedly tried to feed senior Ingrid Manzano her first basket of the season. That long-awaited score finally happened in the final seconds when Manzano gathered in a long pass and scored on a short baseline jumper.
Wines was the only Warrior in double figures with 11 points.