Whittell boys b-ball rolls in playoff opener, downs Jackpot 69-36 in Div. IV Northern Region quarterfinals
RENO, Nev. — The Whittell boys basketball team didn’t deliver a crisp performance in its postseason debut. But the Warriors got the first win out of the way with relative ease.
West League champion Whittell beat East League fourth seed Jackpot (Nev.) 69-36 in the Div. IV Northern Region quarterfinals on Thursday, Feb. 18, at Wooster High. The Warriors rode a big second quarter to victory, extending their winning streak to 21 games while advancing to the next round.
“It’s typical when you’re in the playoffs and you’re No. 1,” Warriors coach Phil Bryant said. “We never felt like it was in jeopardy and we knew we could make the plays. We just had to settle down.”
Whittell (23-2) started slow in its playoff opener, and had a 22-16 lead midway through the second quarter. The Warriors led by five after the opening frame, unable to break down the 2-3 zone Jackpot (4-11) employed defensively.
“They did what they needed to do to try to win the game,” Bryant said. “They slowed it down, tried to extend pressure all around and got us to throw the ball around the perimeter — we weren’t attacking like we should.”
It was the Warriors’ defense that kept them in front early, with most of their chances coming in transition off turnovers. In the second quarter Whittell’s offense eventually got into a rhythm, scoring the last 16 points of the first half — senior Palmer Chaplin accounted for 10 of those points as the Warriors took a 38-16 lead into halftime.
“It’s a whole different energy and vibe in the playoffs,” Bryant said. “Once we settled down, started running our offense and attacked through the middle of the zone, then we were fine.”
Whittell opened up a 54-26 lead by the end of the third quarter, and had the game in hand. Early in the fourth quarter, however, the Warriors suffered a scare.
On a layup attempt with just more than six minutes to play, Chaplin went down under the basket with a left ankle injury that forced him out for the rest of the game. The Warriors closed out the 33-point victory in slightly somber fashion as their leading scorer iced his ankle on the end of the bench.
Chaplin led all scorers with 22 points in the victory, including 18 in the second half. His status for the rest of the regional tournament is unknown, but if he is forced to miss any time it will be costly for Whittell.
“He’s a tough kid, but we’re not going to throw him out there if he’s not able to play,” Bryant said. “We’ll see what we have tomorrow and we’ll play with who we have — if he’s able to go, he’ll go and if he’s not, he won’t.”
Senior Quinn Kixmiller finished with 21 points against the Jaguars, and senior Colin Buchholz added 13. Whittell’s win completed a West League sweep of the four quarterfinal matchups Thursday — the Warriors won along with second-seeded Mineral County, third-seeded Pyramid Lake and fourth-seeded Virginia City.
“It’s pretty interesting,” Bryant said of the first regional sweep since the 2010-11 season. “I’d rather us play other people, but you have to play who you have to play.”
For Jackpot, senior Ricardo Miramontes led the way with 18 points. The Warriors’ 69 points Thursday were the most the Jaguars allowed all season.
With the win, Whittell advances to the regional semifinals against Pyramid Lake on Friday, Feb. 19, at Wooster — tipoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. Mineral County and Virginia City will meet in the first semifinal at 4:40 p.m.
Each of the semifinal winners earned a berth in the state tournament. The Div. IV Northern Region championship will be played at Wooster Saturday, Feb. 20, at 1 p.m.
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