Warriors welcome division-leading Miners
Going into the final week of the regular season, Whittell High boys basketball coach Steve Maltase is preaching that his Warriors must win two out of their final three games to qualify for the postseason.
Of course, the one game Maltase isn’t counting on winning is tonight when the unbeaten Division II-leading Manogue Miners roll into Zephyr Cove with a 16-game winning streak.
“Our goal is to play consistently for four quarters and be in at the end,” Maltase said. “We’ve been playing three quarters the last three games, and that one bad quarter a night has been the end of it.
“Manogue has really good balance, they’re strong inside, they have good outside shooters, they handle the ball really well and they play good defense,” Maltase said.
Manogue first-year coach Kyle Cerfoglio isn’t overlooking the Warriors as his team is in a tight scrum for first place. The Miners hold a one-game lead over Lovelock with three to play, including an upcoming winner-take-all tilt with the Mustangs.
“Every game in February is a big game. You don’t want to stumble now,” said Cerfoglio, who served as a Manogue assistant for seven years before taking over the program this winter. “If we can beat Lovelock, we’ll host the first round of zone at our place.”
Four of Manogue’s five starters are scoring in double figures, and the fifth, point guard Joel Udvare, is producing eight points and three assists per game. Guard Johnmin Hickey is leading the Miners with 18.3 points per game, but the Warriors must find a way to stop the Mikes. That’s right, the Miners start three Mikes: Padgett, 12.1 points; Yenick, 11.5; and Ferris, 10.0.
“It gets kind of confusing sometimes during time-outs. I just started using their last names,” said Cerfoglio, who has a fourth Mike – Elcano – coming off the bench. “In practice, I just yell, ‘Mike,’ and it covers them all.”
Whittell concludes the regular season with division home games against Hawthorne on Friday and Lovelock on Saturday. With only a game separating the third-place Warriors from fourth-place Yerington (4-6) and fifth-place Dayton (3-6), an slipups now could put Whittell out of the postseason. Only the top four teams advance to zone.
“I think they’re starting to feel the pressure a little bit,” Maltase said. “But at least we don’t have to get on the bus. We’ve played pretty well at home, and I think they’re confident they can beat just about anybody on their court.
“It’s ideal to get that third position, because Manogue is playing so well, and we feel we match up pretty well with Lovelock. Ironically, the last two years the third-place team has made it to state.”
Maltase will give two juniors – Luke Forvilly and Bryan Sigel – their first starts in an effort to combat Manogue’s superior height
“We’re going with a little taller lineup so maybe we can attack their press a little better,” he said.
Game time is 7:30 p.m.
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