Whittell boys fall in regional semis
Whittell got through the first round of playoffs, but fell one win shy of qualifying for the state tournament.
The Warriors, No. 2 from the West, knocked off the East’s No. 3 seed, Eureka, 59-48 on Thursday, Feb. 21, at Hug High School in Reno but were defeated 53-34 the next day by Jackpot, the No. 1 seed from the East, at Wooster High School in Reno in the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association Class 1A Basketball Championships.
The Warriors knocked Eureka out of the playoffs in the first round for the fourth straight season, but had to rally to continue the streak.
A slow start to the game led to a two-point deficit at halftime.
A 21-8 third-quarter run turned the tide and Whittell held on for the win despite missing 14 of 16 free throws in the fourth quarter.
Trent Dingman finished with 17 points to lead the way while Isaiah Womack had 15 and Dylan Wade added 14.
“It was a game where we had just enough to get the job done,” said Warriors head coach Phil Bryant. “We had played Eureka in the first round each of the last four years and it was a tough game for us.”
Against Jackpot, Bryant’s words from the past came back to haunt the Warriors.
Last year, after the Warriors knocked Jackpot out in the semifinals, Bryant went into the Jaguars locker room after the game and praised their poise, sportsmanship and team play.
“I told them that the next year would be their time,” Bryant said. “Little did I know it would be against us.”
Whittell couldn’t knock down shots in the first quarter and fell behind 15-3, and the chase was on until the finish.
“We spent the rest of the game trying to make up that difference,” Bryant said. “They had a great game plan and started in a box-and-1 on Dylan. We still had shots but couldn’t get anything to fall in the first quarter. At the half they changed to a triangle-and-2 on Dylan and Trent and the other three starters combined for only 12 points in the second half. It was a good coaching move on their part. I know it was a tough loss for the seniors but Isaiah said it well in the locker room, ‘Look at the whole season and not just one game and we had a great year at 19-3.’ ”
Whittell (19-3, 8-2 West) will lose just four, but impactful, seniors, Womack, Dingman, Sterling Manchester and Brandon Rojas from the 15-man roster.
Wade, Zack Johns and Malachi Womack, the first, third and fifth leading scorers this year, will anchor the starting lineup and there will be a big competition for big minutes.
“It is now up to the young guys to keep up the run,” Bryant said. “We have been to the playoffs in each of my seven years here (including two state championships) and we plan to be there again next year. I know we have a group who will put in the time to get better.”