Whittell boys again expect to compete for league, state titles
ZEPHYR COVE, Nev. — Whittell has won 120 basketball games over the past five seasons and lost just 24.
The Warriors have claimed two state championships and have been in the playoffs and won at least one game in all five seasons Phil Bryant has been at the helm.
So when Warriors junior Dylan Wade says going undefeated this year, “would be nice,” it’s unlikely, but not out of the realm of possibility.
“I feel like we have really good chemistry,” Wade said. “We all get along really well and we all hang out with each other off the court outside of school. With that chemistry, we’ll have good ball movement and everybody will be on the same page. I expect a lot out of us this year and I would hope we have a great season.”
That kind of confidence and expectation happens when teams are winning 24 games per year and losing less than five.
Whittell has eight returning players, including senior starters Trent Dingman and Isaiah Womack and outside shooting star Dylan Wade.
The 6-foot-2 Dingman is the Warriors top returning scorer, and was the leading scorer (12.7 ppg) on last year’s team that went 26-4 and reached the state semifinals before suffering that fourth loss.
Womack is the team’s 5-7 point guard and is a master distributor and penetrator and Wade, a 5-11 guard, is the benefactor of many of those passes.
The junior is a deadeye from beyond the arc and canned a school-record 11 3-pointers Tuesday in the team’s season opener.
But Bryant thinks the team is a little thin on the roster. The Warriors lost senior Sterling Manchester to an injury before the season started.
“He’s a 6-2 strong body, he really rebounds well and would have given us a nice one-two-punch down low,” Bryant said. “But our big three are Trent, Isaiah and Dylan because they are the guys who put in the most time.”
The big three, along with junior Zack Johns (5-10 guard) and sophomore Malachi Womack (6-0 forward), Isaiah’s younger brother, compiled the team’s starting lineup Tuesday night against Smith Valley.
“Zak is critical,” Bryant said. “He slashes to the basket, makes steals, makes things happen and really makes plays all over the place. And Malachi hasn’t been much of a scorer but he sure looked good (12 points, 12 rebounds).
Whittell’s starters looked in mid-season form, whipping the ball around perimeter, driving to the basket and canning jumpers en route to a dominating victory to open the year. They also applied a smothering full court press that rendered Smith Valley vulnerable.
The Warriors and Bryant are trying to build depth and are relying on sophomores Jack Forvilly and Jack White to fill roles off the bench.
“There’s big expectations because Whittell basketball has been so successful ever since Phil has been the coach,” Isaiah Womack said. “So we have to show up and show everybody we’re the same team we’ve had for the last four or five years.”