Whittell boys b-ball bounces back, wins last four games at home tournament
ZEPHYR COVE — After a defeat to start the Whittell TSE Invitational, the Warriors boys basketball team bounced back. Whittell closed out its home tournament with four wins over a two-day span, including victories over Greenville (Calif.), Owyhee (Nev.), Sierra Lutheran and Dayton.
“We know what our long-range goals are, so we set some short-range goals: play better defense, be more selective on offense, work harder on the court and get more people involved,” Warriors coach Phil Bryant said. “I thought we did a good job with those things.”
After inclement weather cancelled tournament play on Thursday, Dec. 10, Whittell played two games on its home court each of the next two days. Each of the games resulted in decisive victories that improved the Warriors to 6-2 on the season.
“We are slowly getting into basketball shape,” Bryant said. “There is such a difference between football conditioning and basketball conditioning that the players need time to adjust.”
Whittell opened play on Friday, Dec. 11, by doubling up Greenville 64-32. The Warriors raced out to a 27-7 lead after the first quarter and extended that advantage to 25 points by halftime en route to the victory.
Senior Colin Buchholz led the Warriors with 22 points against Greenville, including five 3-pointers. Junior Dismas Womack scored 12 points and senior Palmer Chaplin added 10.
On Friday night, the Warriors rolled past Owyhee 72-36 in a rematch of last season’s Div. IV Northern Region quarterfinals. Whittell withstood a physical test from the Braves throughout the contest, and kept its cool to roll to a sound victory.
“Ball movement was better, shot selection was better and the result was better,” Bryant said. “We responded to the physicalness of the game intelligently.”
The Warriors closed the first quarter on a 9-2 run after an even start, and a layup from sophomore Caleb Moretti at the buzzer made it 18-8. Whittell scored the first 11 points of the second quarter to take a commanding lead, and had a 39-18 advantage at the break.
Whittell turned the game into a rout with a 27-point third quarter, forcing a running clock for the last eight minutes. Buchholz had a game-high 20 points in the win, Chaplin finished with 15 and Kixmiller added 12 — Eric Cota led Owyhee with 15 points.
“Palmer didn’t score as much, but he did more of the things that a point guard should be doing with a team,” Bryant said. “Right now, he’s being a real team guy in terms of getting other people involved.”
Whittell closed out tournament play on Saturday, Dec. 12, with blowout wins over league foe Sierra Lutheran (75-27) and Div. I-A opposition Dayton (81-48). For the Warriors, the victories brought an emphatic end to two days of strong performances.
“The last two tournament games were more like us,” Bryant said. “Palmer has played really well and is actually taking less shots a game but getting more assists and playing a better floor game. Colin and Quinn are scoring at a higher rate and Dismas is finally showing what he can do offensively — we are better balanced.”
Whittell has a two-week break before returning to action at home on Monday, Jan. 4, against Div. I opposition North Valleys (Reno, Nev.) at 7:30 p.m. The following night, the Warriors open Div. IV West League play at Sierra Lutheran.
“We have a long break now and we can focus more on player development and establishing some depth,” Bryant said. “We are in a good spot and I think we are definitely the team to beat in our league. That target on our chests is a reminder to always be prepared and never miss a beat.”