Whittell boys b-ball passes first league test, downs Mineral County 80-47
ZEPHYR COVE — The Whittell boys basketball team faced its first test in Div. IV West League play Friday, Jan. 15, and passed with a dominant performance. The Warriors beat Mineral County 80-47 at home, delivering a fifth straight victory to start league play.
“We were really looking forward to this game because they’re one of the better teams in the league,” Warriors coach Phil Bryant said. “We responded really well.”
After a back-and-forth opening frame, Whittell (11-2, 5-0 IV West) broke the game open in the second quarter. The Warriors led by six early in the second, and went on an 11-1 run to take control against Mineral County (7-7, 3-2).
“Our kids now realize that football season is over,” Bryant said. “We’re into basketball season, and all the things we need to do are on the court.”
Whittell’s second-quarter stint featured seven points from Palmer Chaplin, and a pair of free throws from the senior made it 33-17 with 4:04 left in the first half. The Warriors led by 18 at halftime on the strength of full-court pressure and offensive efficiency, overwhelming the Serpents on both ends of the court.
“Our pressure bothered them, our ball movement was good and our passing was really good,” Bryant said.
In the second half, the Warriors maintained control of the contest while continuing to stretch their lead. Whittell opened up a 37-point lead on a 3-pointer from sophomore Nic Buchholz with 2:48 left in the game, and rolled to a 33-point victory over Mineral County.
“The rest of the league may look at that score, and it might open a few eyes if they weren’t open already to the fact that we’re a pretty good team,” Bryant said.
Chaplin finished with 27 points, 10 assists and four steals in the victory. The senior shot 10-for-16 from the field and hit four 3-pointers while facilitating Whittell’s offense from his point guard position.
“Palmer with the ball in the open court is a big part of our offense,” Bryant said. “He’s really getting more comfortable. Whereas he was tired before and kind of forcing the issue, he’s really playing hard right now.”
Seniors Colin Buchholz and Quinn Kixmiller also had double-doubles against Mineral County. Buchholz scored 15 points, pulled down 10 rebounds and dished out five assists while Kixmiller finished with 11 points and 11 boards — junior Dismas Womack scored eight points and senior Andy Delgado added seven.
“We spread our offense a little more against their man-to-man to get lanes going to the rim,” Bryant said. “We got nice cuts to the basket.”
For Mineral County, Isaiah Crowl scored a team-high 12 points on four 3-pointers. The loss was the Serpents second straight after opening league play with three consecutive wins.
“Top to bottom we are a better team right now,” Bryant said. “They have some good athletes, but I just think we’re better basketball players — our guards can score, but they can also make the big pass and the big cut.”
Five games into league play, Whittell is alone atop the Div. IV West standings. The Warriors have a one-game lead over Virginia City and Pyramid Lake with three games left in the first round of league play.
“We just have to make sure that we don’t get complacent, don’t start comparing scores and stay focused on what we need to do every time out,” Bryant said. “We need to do the things we do to stay on top of our league.”
Whittell returned to action Tuesday, Jan. 19, with a nonleague game at Pershing County. The Warriors resume league play at home Saturday, Jan. 23, against Virginia City — tipoff is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.
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