Whittell boys b-ball routs Owyhee 71-27 in playoff opener
SPRING CREEK, Nev. — In its postseason debut, the Whittell boys basketball team started fast and rolled to a comfortable victory. The Warriors beat Owyhee (Nev.) 71-27 in the NIAA Div. IV Northern Region quarterfinals Thursday night at Spring Creek High, taking a successful first step toward defending their state championship.
“It was one of those fast starts for us again,” Warriors head coach Phil Bryant said.
Whittell (24-2) led 25-9 after the first quarter and opened up a commanding 43-14 lead by halftime. Guard Palmer Chaplin scored 11 of his 18 points in the opening frame and guard Colin Buchholz accounted for eight of his game-high 20 in the second quarter as the Warriors put the game away early.
In the second half, the Warriors continued rolling en route to a 44-point win over the fourth seed from Div. IV East league. Despite not pressing on defense, Whittell held Owyhee (9-8) to a season-low 27 points — less than half its average — and didn’t allow the Braves to reach double digits in any quarter.
“They had been a team that relied on the three and then liked to drive if you closed out too hard,” Bryant said. “We changed up our defense by staying tight on anyone outside the three-point line and helping quickly on penetration if a player was two passes away from the driver.
“It worked well for us and caused them problems with their spacing.”
Buchholz reached the 20-point mark for the sixth time this season in the win, and Chaplin’s 18 included nine assists and seven rebounds. Chaplin was met with physical defensive play from the Braves throughout the game.
“He has to learn to just stay patient when that happens and realize he is strong enough to handle it without trying to do too much,” Bryant said of Chaplin. “He sometimes gets caught up in the individual battles and goes out to prove a point — he is the best player in the division, so he has nothing to prove to anyone.”
Forward Bryce Bronken also finished in double figures for Whittell, scoring 10 points. Forward Troy Libert added eight points and forward Quinn Kixmiller pulled down a game-high 15 rebounds despite getting into early foul trouble.
“Quinn had an outstanding game on the boards — he had 15 rebounds and dominated the paint,” Bryant said. ”His work on the defensive boards led to several fast break points.”
Whittell advances to today’s regional semifinals to face McDermitt (16-9) — the Div. IV East second-seeded Bulldogs beat Mineral County 55-42 in the quarterfinals. Tipoff at Spring Creek High is scheduled for 4:40 p.m., with the winner earning a berth in the Div. IV state tournament — the later semifinal features Virginia City and Div. IV East champion Eureka.
“Today is the big game,” Bryant said. “McDermitt is a tough defensive team with exceptional quickness and several offensive weapons.”
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