Whittell boys b-ball rides press, balanced offense past Silver Stage 67-26 in season opener
ZEPHYR COVE — The Whittell boys basketball team had a different look as it took the court for its season opener at home Tuesday, Nov. 29. As the Warriors’ debut unfolded, however, it quickly became a familiar, dominant performance.
Whittell routed Silver Stage (Silver Springs, Nev.) 67-26 on Tuesday night to open its 2016-17 campaign in style. The defending state champions, hit hard by graduation, rode full-court pressure and offensive balance to a lopsided victory.
“The kids played well,” Warriors coach Phil Bryant said. “It’s a whole new group, and we’re happy with where we are.”
Whittell (1-0) scored the first 13 points Tuesday night and held a commanding 21-2 lead after the first quarter. Seven players scored for the Warriors in the opening frame, as the hosts overwhelmed Class 2A opposition Silver Stage (0-1) from the outset.
“The first thing we work on is our presses,” Bryant said. “So while everybody else is working on their half-court [offense], we’re trying to make them use the whole court — that gives us an advantage early.”
The Warriors opened up a 28-point lead by halftime, and forced a running clock midway through the third quarter when free throws from senior Dismas Womack made it 54-18. It wasn’t always pretty for Whittell in its debut, but the end result was a decisive win to open the season.
“We were a little out of control at times, and the guard play and decision making needed to be better,” Bryant said. “But the hustle, heart, and all of those things were there — and that’s what we count on.”
Womack led Whittell with a game-high 15 points, all in the first three quarters. The senior was one of three Warriors starters to score in double figures along with senior Sam Berry and junior Troy Libert, who finished with 10 points apiece.
Juniors Caleb Moretti (nine points) and Corey Huber (three points) also started for Whittell on Tuesday. Off the bench, juniors Genaro Mena and Connor Huber added five points each.
“The balance was nice,” Bryant said. “Some guys really stepped up and the scoring was spread around a little bit more.”
For Silver Stage, junior Tristen Blevins led the way with 10 points. Whittell held the Nighthawks to one field goal in the first 10 minutes of the game en route to the victory.
Whittell entered the season relatively untested, but that didn’t seem to matter in its season opener. For the Warriors, Tuesday night’s win answered some initial questions — and offered glimpses of the team’s potential as it vies for a third state title in four seasons.
“You can see the parts are there and the guys are working,” Bryant said. “If they’re working like that and supporting one another, then we have a good opportunity to be successful.”
The Warriors return to the court Thursday, Dec. 1, at the Serpent Classic held at Mineral County High (Hawthorne, Nev.) for the first of five games in three days. Whittell will host its annual tournament starting next Wednesday, Dec. 7 — and tips things off against Incline (Incline Village, Nev.) that night at 7:30 p.m.