Whittell boys b-ball wins John Holland Classic; Chaplin named tournament MVP
GREENVILLE, Calif. — It didn’t take long for the Whittell boys basketball team to collect its first piece of hardware this season. The Warriors won the John Holland Classic held at Greenville High, beating Redding Christian (Palo Cedro, Calif.) 60-32 in the championship game Saturday.
“We played pretty well for the entire tournament,” Warriors head coach Phil Bryant said. “It was good to see our kids rise to the competition.”
Whittell (4-0) rolled to the championship with a 28-point win over previously undefeated Redding Christian (4-1). The Warriors led by 16 at halftime and had a commanding 47-19 lead after three quarters en route to a victory over the Lions.
“When the game started it was easy to see we had buy-in from everyone,” Bryant said. “We held them to two first-quarter points and 11 at halftime — we dominated the court with pressure defense and aggressive offense.”
Whittell guard Palmer Chaplin scored a game-high 27 points to go along with eight assists and six rebounds. The junior was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player — he led the Warriors in scoring each game, averaged 24 points over the three contests.
“Palmer was Palmer, and scored from every angle and in every way,” Bryant said.
Forward Quinn Kixmiller scored 12 points and pulled down 13 rebounds in the championship game — the junior earned all-tournament honors. Guard Colin Buchholz finished with 12 points and six steals.
“The morning before the game we had a team meeting to lay out what needed to happen for us to compete for a league, zone and state title this year,” Bryant said. “We went over the role each player needed to fill and why — sometimes players need to hear it precisely as it has to be.”
Whittell advanced to the title game by beating Maxwell (Calif.) 58-44 in the semifinals Saturday. The Warriors dispatched the defending CIF Northern Section Div. VI champions in their toughest game of the tournament.
“They are a very physical team,” Bryant said. “It was just the type of matchup we needed at this point.”
Whittell had a 16-9 lead after the first quarter and led by 11 points at the break — after an even third quarter, the Warriors were able to stay in front for a 14-point victory. Whittell’s pressure defense forced Maxwell turnovers in the backcourt throughout the game.
Chaplin led the Warriors with 22 points and forward Bryce Bronken finished with 13. Guard Corey Huber scored six points and provided a spark off the bench — the freshman saw 20 minutes of action against the Panthers.
“I felt like we were starting to get in to a rhythm but I still didn’t feel we were playing together as well as we should be,” Bryant said. “That is often the case as players change from year to year.”
In their tournament opener Friday, Whittell routed Herlong (Calif.) 76-23. The Warriors raced out to a 15-3 lead after the first quarter, and opened up a 39-9 advantage by halftime en route to a comfortable victory — all the players that made the trip appeared against the Vikings.
“They had trouble with our presses and that led to the early lead,” Bryant said. “We were able to get a good look at several players mixed in with starters to help us establish some depth patterns for the year.”
Chaplin scored 23 points against Herlong and was one of four Whittell players in double figures. Bronken, Buchholz and Kixmiller added 11 points apiece — Kixmiller also grabbed a team-high eight rebounds.
“We still have a long way to go in developing depth for the season,” Bryant said. “Four starting positions are pretty solid and the next four spots are critical — you win championships with the players who are in those spots.”
Whittell returned to action Tuesday night, when it faced Incline to open play in the Whittell Invitational Basketball Tournament. The Warriors’ tournament slate features five games in five days — Whittell plays Owyhee (Nev.) on Thursday, faces Lee Vining (Calif.) on Friday, and takes on Mammoth (Mammoth Lakes, Calif.) and Loyalton (Calif.) on Saturday.
“We have some tough games in our tournament — it should all shake out by next Sunday and we will see where we are,” Bryant said.