Whittell boys b-ball downs Pyramid Lake 70-44, secures outright Div. IV West League championship | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Whittell boys b-ball downs Pyramid Lake 70-44, secures outright Div. IV West League championship

Anthony Gentile | agentile@tahoedailytribune.com
Whittell senior Quinn Kixmiller goes up for a shot against Pyramid Lake’s Jesse Valdez in a Div. IV West League game Tuesday, Feb. 8.
Anthony Gentile / Tahoe Daily Tribune |

This season, the Whittell boys basketball team won’t have to share the Div. IV West League championship. The Warriors delivered an emphatic 70-44 home victory over Pyramid Lake on Tuesday, Feb. 8, to claim a third straight league title — and do so in outright fashion.

“It’s a huge win,” Warriors senior Colin Buchholz said. “It puts a statement out that we’re nothing to mess with and we’re playing really well.”

Whittell (20-2, 12-0 IV West) locked up an outright league championship Tuesday with two games left in the regular season. The Warriors shared the title with Virginia City last season, and had it all to themselves two years ago.

“We think we have the best guard in the league, the best wing in the league, the best big guy in the league and the best bench,” Warriors coach Phil Bryant said. “That has to mean something going into playoffs — now everything has to go through us.”

“It puts a statement out that we’re nothing to mess with and we’re playing really well.”Colin BuchholzWarriors senior

With the prize in sight, the Warriors left little doubt as to their standing as the league’s best team while delivering an 18th consecutive win. Whittell started fast, and easily dispatched second-place Pyramid Lake (11-6, 8-4) to achieve its first season objective.

“That was a huge team win tonight,” Buchholz said. “We’ve had games where we’re not like that, and we just have to keep working well together to peak at the right time.”

The Lakers scored the first four points of the game, then the Warriors uncorked a 19-0 run. Whittell rode crisp offense and defensive pressure to a 24-8 lead after the opening frame, and maintained a comfortable advantage the rest of the way to secure the outright Div. IV West crown.

“We were a little erratic early — everyone was thinking a little too much about what was on the line,” Buchholz said. “We just had to play as a team and play our game.”

Whittell had a 37-17 lead at halftime, and stretched it to 32 points by the end of the third quarter. A 3-pointer from senior Andy Delgado at the third-quarter buzzer made it 61-29, leaving the last eight minutes a formality.

“These guys are competitive and they want the league title,” Bryant said. “They have a mindset now that we’ve instilled in them: if you want something in life, you have to go for it.”

Senior Palmer Chaplin led the Warriors with 22 points on 7-of-16 shooting, to go along with seven assists and six rebounds. Senior Quinn Kixmiller finished with 17 points and 13 rebounds while Buchholz added 15 points and six boards — as a team, Whittell shot 53 percent from the field against the Lakers.

“We know that we’re a good team, but we also know that we have room to get better,” Bryant said. “We think we can be better, and we’re going to work to get better.”

For the Lakers, A.J. Wasson scored a game-high 24 points. Pyramid Lake, Virginia City and Mineral County will finish as the league’s other three playoff teams, with seeding still up for grabs.

Whittell returns to action Friday, Feb. 12, when it faces Sierra Lutheran in its home finale — tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. The Warriors conclude the regular season at Virginia City on Saturday, Feb. 13, and will be the league’s top seed when the Div. IV Northern Region championships open Thursday, Feb. 18, at a neutral site in Reno.

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