Whittell boys b-ball runs out of steam in home debut, falls to Incline 66-57
ZEPHYR COVE — In the closing moments of the Whittell boys basketball team’s home opener against cross-lake rival Incline on Wednesday, Dec. 9, the Warriors looked exhausted and defeated. That rare sight was the culmination of a rare defeat, a 66-57 loss against the Highlanders that suggests the team with high expectations is far from a finished product.
“We got outplayed, outhustled, outran and outcoached in every way possible,” Warriors coach Phil Bryant said. “I did not have my team ready to play. We are in poor condition and not playing smart — it is going to be difficult to fix this.
“It is not on the kids, it is on me.”
Whittell (2-2) matched the Highlanders for nearly three quarters in Wednesday’s game on the first night of the Whittell TSE Invitational before eventually running out of steam. The Warriors led by four at halftime and took a 43-38 lead with 3:06 to play in the third quarter on a three-point play by Quinn Kixmiller — then Incline (4-2) took control of the game.
The Highlanders closed the third quarter on a 9-0 run, and a 3-pointer from Joey Stranzl with 48 seconds left in the frame put the visitors ahead 47-43. Warriors senior Colin Buchholz made a layup to start the fourth quarter, but Incline’s Jackson Littleton answered with a trey — and Whittell didn’t get closer than five points the rest of the way.
“It’s usually us who wears the opponent down, and in all our games we were the ones bent over at the waist and trying to catch our breath,” Bryant said. “I am not blaming it on the football season, we just are not where we need to be to compete with anyone.”
Whittell made it 56-51 with 2:36 to play when Kixmiller put up a shot inside, but Incline scored on its next three trips to put the game away. For the Warriors, it marked the 13th straight loss to the Highlanders over the last eight seasons.
A coach needs to have his team prepared to play, and in our four games so far I don’t think we were prepared for any of them,” Bryant said. “I have to do a better job of coaching and push harder.”
Incline had four players in double figures in the win, led by Jon Cromer’s 19 points. Littleton finished with 12 while Matt Cromer and Tanner Quenneville added 10 apiece.
The Warriors returned to action at the Whittell TSE Invitational on Thursday, Dec. 10, against Owyhee (Nev.) in a rematch of last season’s Div. IV Northern Region quarterfinals. Whittell faces North Tahoe on Friday, Dec. 11, at 7:30 p.m. before concluding tournament play with a pair of games the following afternoon.
“I have altered our goals to be more specific — get in shape, practice hard to play hard, and trust ourselves and our teammates,” Bryant said. “It’s simple but it hasn’t happened yet.”