Whittell boys b-ball survives Virginia City 63-45 in gritty contest, wins 11th straight | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Whittell boys b-ball survives Virginia City 63-45 in gritty contest, wins 11th straight

Anthony Gentile
Whittell senior Quinn Kixmiller drives inside against Virginia City’s Evan Breckenridge in the Warriors’ league game against the Muckers on Saturday, Jan. 23.
Anthony Gentile / Tahoe Daily Tribune |

ZEPHYR COVE — It wasn’t pretty for the Whittell boys basketball team against Virginia City on Saturday, Jan. 23 — but it was effective. The Warriors downed the Muckers 63-45 at home, surviving their recent rival en route to an 11th straight victory.

“Those are the kind of games that you have to get through and win,” Warriors coach Phil Bryant said. “I wasn’t really pleased with any part of our game, except that we won.”

Whittell (13-2, 6-0 IV West) controlled play from the outset of Saturday’s highly anticipated contest, but it was never completely comfortable. The Warriors led 15-8 after the first quarter, and maintained at least a five-point advantage the rest of the way — only in the fourth quarter were they finally able to put away Virginia City (8-9, 3-3).

“We knew they were going to be scrappy, and it’s a rivalry game so we knew they were going to come out hard,” Warriors senior Palmer Chaplin said. “It was just about grinding it out.”

“We (were) in control, but it was more like driving with one hand on the wheel.”Phil BryantWarriors head coach

In the second quarter, Whittell stretched its lead to 13 points with a 10-2 run capped by a Quinn Kixmiller layup with 2:20 left in the half. The Warriors led by 11 points at halftime, and maintained that margin after an even third quarter.

“We knew they were going to play hard, we knew we were the better team — and we just had to stay in control,” Bryant said. “We stayed in control, but it was more like driving with one hand on the wheel.”

Whittell scored the first six points of the fourth quarter to extend its lead to 49-32 with 6:16 to play. The result wasn’t in question the rest of the way, in a finish that saw both teams combine for 26 free-throw attempts in the last five minutes.

Chaplin matched his season-high with 33 points Saturday to go along with seven assists. The Cal Lutheran-bound senior shot 12-of-25 from the field against the Muckers.

Kixmiller also scored in double figures, finishing with 17 points and nine rebounds. Senior Colin Buchholz added seven points and six rebounds.

“It was a struggle offensively,” Chaplin said. “Even though we were hot in the first half, every bucket wasn’t a waltz — we had to be smart with the ball.”

Three players finished in double figures for the Muckers, led by 13 points from Colt Hess. Hugh Fonzo and Tanner Uken each added 10 for Virginia City, who fell at Mineral County 44-38 the previous night.

“They played really hard defense, got every loose ball and got baskets off turnovers and offensive rebounds,” Chaplin said. “It was all hustle plays.”

The Warriors split eight meetings with Virginia City over the past three seasons — including a victory in the 2014 Div. IV State championship game. The Warriors have a deeper, more talented and more experienced team than the Muckers this season, but Saturday’s game was still a struggle reminiscent of past encounters.

“The kids get wrapped up in the emotion of the rivalry,” Bryant said. “There was a lot of talking on both sides, and then you start wondering about the next thing you’re going to say rather than the next play you’re going to make.”

With the victory, Whittell remained undefeated in Div. IV West play and kept its one-game lead over the rest of the league. So far the Warriors haven’t been threatened in their quest for a third straight league title.

“We still have work to do,” Chaplin said.

Whittell returned to action Tuesday, Jan. 26, at second-place Pyramid Lake. The Warriors play at Mineral County on Friday, Jan. 29, before hosting Loyalton (Calif.) in a nonleague game Saturday, Jan. 30, at 4 p.m.

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