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Whittell boy show potential

Michael Traum

How good they can be. How far they have to go.

Whittell High touched both extremes in a 49-41 loss to Rite of Passage on Tuesday in Zephyr Cove.

Down 31-21 at the half, the Warriors laid a 14-4 run on the Raiders in the third period, breaking down ROP’s 2-3 zone with crisp passing and smart decision-making.

But like a team that forgot what was working, the Warriors struggled to find the open man, let alone the basket, in a 10-0 Raider run to open to fourth period – seven minutes that contained 11 Warrior possessions which resulted in either a turnover or a one-pass shot without an offensive rebound.

“We did some nice things in the third quarter. We executed, had nice shots and played good defense. Then we get outscored 14-6 in the next quarter. There’s no reason for it except for lack of execution. We have to do better than that. We’ve got to put together four quarters,” said Whittell coach Steve Maltase.

The teams traded leads to open the contest until senior Matt Raab buried a three ball with 2:30 to go, as the Warriors built a 15-13 first- period advantage.

But the Raiders quickly regained the lead on a Marcus Kelly trey and the Raiders went on an 18-6 run. A Bob Linkul offensive board and putback and an Adrian Norman 12-footer cut ROP’s lead to two twice in the quarter. But Kelly assumed control, nailing the final nine points of the quarter, including losing his shoe on a driving scoop to the bucket as time expired.

It looked as though the Raiders were handed the win when Dusty Apocotos and ROP’s Lydel Yarbar left the game on double technical fouls just four minutes into the second half. But minus their starting point guard, the Warriors rallied.

Already on an 5-2 run, Norman dropped a 10 footer before James Putnam drained four of his team-high 16 points. Linkul added a 5 footer on a no-look pass from Norman to cap a third quarter in which ROP went scoreless for more than four minutes.

But then the lights went dim for the Warriors. Putnam finally broke the ice with under one minute to play with an offensive board and putback, as Whittell, plagued by turnovers, poor shot selection, lack of patience, played its most inopportune basketball of the night.

ROP’s Kelly finished with 18 points, while James Vance added eight. Linkul finished with nine and Raab seven for Whittell.

Despite the loss, it was still a productive outing for the Warriors, according to Maltase, whose team was handily beaten by ROP earlier in the season.

“We’re working to improve every game. With our team it’s not going to happen without hard work for 32 minutes,” Maltase said. “We can’t pout about losing. Each of these games is nonleague. It’s nice to win, but our goal is building toward league. These games will build character and give us some experience come crunch time.”

The Warriors (1-4) travel to Portola this weekend for a three-game tournament.


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