Whittell boys b-ball runs table in Div. IV West League, extends winning streak to 20 games
Div. IV Northern Region Tournament
Thursday-Saturday, Feb. 18-20
Quarterfinals - Thursday
(2E) Wells vs. (3W) Pyramid Lake, 3 p.m. at Hug
(1E) Eureka vs. (4W) Virginia City, 4:40 p.m. at Wooster
(2W) Mineral County vs. (3E) Owyhee, 6:20 p.m. at Hug
(1W) Whittell vs. (4E) Jackpot, 8 p.m. at Wooster
Semifinals - Friday at Wooster, 4:40/8 p.m.
Championship - Saturday at Wooster, 1 p.m.
The Whittell boys basketball team was the class of Div. IV West League throughout the regular season, and has the record to prove it. The Warriors finished undefeated in league play, punctuating a championship with wins over Sierra Lutheran and Virginia City last weekend, Feb. 12-13.
“It was a great ending to an undefeated league season and puts us in a great spot to win zone,” Warriors coach Phil Bryant said.
Whittell (22-2, 14-0 IV West) closed the regular season with a 66-42 win at Virginia City on Saturday, Feb. 13. The Warriors rode a fast start to a win over the Muckers that secured their first undefeated league season under Bryant after finishing with one league loss in each of the previous two campaigns.
The Warriors led 21-8 after the opening frame, jumping out to an early lead they would never relinquish. Senior Palmer Chaplin scored 10 points for Whittell in the first quarter and sophomore Corey Huber added nine — all on 3-pointers.
Whittell had a 38-18 advantage at halftime and led by as many as 30 points in the fourth quarter on the way to a sweep of Virginia City (12-11, 7-5). The Warriors topped the league standings, with the Muckers, Mineral County and Pyramid Lake also qualifying for the playoffs.
Chaplin led all scorers with 39 points on 14-of-20 shooting in Saturday’s win. The senior hit six 3-pointers and finished with five assists and four steals — Huber scored 11 points while senior Quinn Kixmiller pulled down 10 rebounds to go along with five points.
In its home finale Friday, Feb. 12, Whittell overcame the emotion of senior night and rolled to a 78-29 win over Sierra Lutheran. After a slow start, the Warriors used a big third quarter to turn the game into a rout.
The Warriors and Falcons were tied at 14 after the opening frame, and Whittell broke the game open by scoring 12 straight points to open the second quarter. A Chaplin 3-pointer made it 26-14 with 5:18 left in the half, and the hosts led by 14 at the break.
“It was a different talk at halftime,” Bryant said. “I told them the senior stuff was over and that we were in a game — let’s play hard.”
Whittell uncorked a dominant third quarter after the break, outscoring Sierra Lutheran 34-2 to build a commanding lead. The Warriors’ last home game of the season ended with a running clock for the final nine minutes.
Chaplin scored a game-high 20 points, and was one of four Warriors in double figures. The senior finished 6-of-14 from the field to go along with seven assists, six rebounds and three steals.
Kixmiller finished with a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds Friday. Senior Colin Buchholz had 10 points, five rebounds and four steals while sophomore Caleb Moretti added 10.
The Warriors started their five seniors at tipoff Friday — Chaplin, Kixmiller, Buchholz, Andy Delgado and Aubrey Felton. Emotions ran high during a pregame ceremony to honor the five players.
“The nucleus of Quinn, Palmer and Colin have made everything go and tied everything together,” Bryant said. “Look at what they’ve done — they had a winning record as freshman, won a state title as sophomores and went to the state semis as juniors.
“It was all timing for us to come together.”
Whittell enters the Div. IV Northern Region playoffs as the west’s top seed, and opens against East League No. 4 seed Jackpot (Nev.) (4-10) on Thursday, Feb. 18 at Wooster High — tipoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. The Warriors need two wins to clinch a state playoff berth and three to win the regional title.
“We like being the favorite because that makes everyone else think just a little more when they prepare for us,” Bryant said. “We are healthy, so there can be no excuses if we fall short from now on. I am very proud of this group and I think they will hold up to the pressure of being No. 1.”