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Whittell cagers winless at Portola

Dan Thomas

It took just 15 points to keep Whittell High’s boys at the same number of wins – one – as before their trip to the weekend’s Portola Basketball Tournament.

That was the combined margin of victory in the three games Whittell lost in Portola, Calif., Thursday through Sunday. After dropping Thursday’s opener by 11 to nearby Quincy, bad breaks cost the Warriors (1-5) on their next two outings. Whittell squandered an early eight-point lead in losing by two to host Portola on Friday, then fell to Modoc, Calif., on a buzzer-beater the next day.

“We’re having trouble playing four quarters right now,” said Whittell head coach Steve Maltase, whose 1998 club struggled at the beginning of the season.



Quincy opened the tournament with a 63-52 win over Whittell. Senior forward Todd Echan led the Warriors with 17 points, 17 rebounds, four assists and three steals while committing just one turnover. The Warriors would miss the inside presence of Echan, who missed the next day’s game to take the SAT.

On Friday against Portola, it was the tournament hosts who jumped out to an early 19-point lead, and seemed to have the game in hand. But Whittell battled back to tie in the fourth quarter.



Portola made adjustments, and pulled ahead. Whittell’s last-second 3-pointer cut the final margin to 78-76. Chris Markt and Bryan Sigel had 16 each to lead South Tahoe, and Kyle Spingola and Avery Norman combined for 25 more.

“I think we probably played better, so it wasn’t too bad,” Maltase said. “We could’ve used Todd as an inside player.”

The Warriors had Echan back for their final game of the tournament, a see-saw battle with Modoc. The California team took the lead early in the fourth quarter, but Whittell forced a tie, which Modoc broke with a buzzer-beating 2-pointer. Echan led Whittell with 14 against Modoc.

The tournament did afford a new-look Warriors team a chance to work on its weaknesses against good competition without the results affecting their league standings. Maltase said only time will tell for the Warriors.

“I’d rather win,” Maltase said. “We want to try to be ready when league starts.

“I think we need to have a little more intensity during practice.”

Whittell’s next big test will come on Wednesday in the Lake Tournament, when the Warriors play host to Truckee, which beat Whittell by five on Dec. 3 in Truckee.

South Tahoe girls finish tourney 1-2

The hardwood in Napa County, Calif., wasn’t easy for South Tahoe’s girls basketball players, but Tim Jaureguito’s team is starting to come together.

“I think they’re starting to jell right now,” Jaureguito said after his squad finished 1-2 at the Lady Saints Tournament at St. Helena. “The chemistry looks good.”

After dropping the first game, 38-33 to Amador, Calif. on Thursday, South Tahoe drew Walnut Creek, Calif., for the second game. While the Vikings lost their second game of the tournament, 42-30, they staged a 10-point rally in the third quarter – the period the team has struggled with all year.

South Tahoe picked up its first non-forfeit win of the season on Saturday with a 68-35 win over another northern California team, Trinity.

“The girls played with a lot of confidence, and that’s something we haven’t done really often in the past,” Jaureguito said.

The squad seems to have found balance: Lindsey Hitt had 20 points in the last two games, but had support from virtually all of her teammates. Tirah Samura, South Tahoe’s best rebounder, earned all-tournament honors for her strong play in the post.

South Tahoe still has a few nonconference games, including a home game Tuesday at Sparks and a Thursday contest at Whittell, on the schedule before league play starts in January. South Tahoe (2-6) opens league play at Hug on Jan. 4.

“The nice part about it is, I think the girls are starting to come together, and they realize what they have to do,” Jaureguito said.

“Different people are stepping up at different times, and that’s a big plus.”

He encouraged fans to watch South Tahoe when the Vikings take on Sparks at 7 p.m. Tuesday in South Lake Tahoe.

“They’re going to work hard,” he said.


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