Whittell expects vast improvement from last year | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Whittell expects vast improvement from last year

Jeremy Evans

Optimism is probably the one word to describe the feeling hovering around the Whittell boys’ basketball team. Although the Warriors finished last in the eight-team Northern 2A last season, they feel a move up in the league standings is likely this season.

“I expect us to do better than last year,” said senior forward Tommy Esquivel, one of three returning starters for Whittell. “We’re playing a lot better now than we were last year at this time. A lot of us have been playing together for a long time and that should help us. The team cohesiveness is a lot better this year. I don’t think many teams are expecting much out of us just because how we were last year. But I feel we could surprise a few teams.”

The Warriors open the season today at 4:30 p.m. against 4A Damonte Ranch, which lost to South Tahoe on Tuesday, in the first round of the Sutro Classic in Dayton. Whittell plays Bishop in the second round on Friday, then host Dayton on Saturday morning. The tournament begins a whirlwind week for the Warriors.

“We got seven games in five days, so we’re going to find out right away how good we’re going to be,” said second-year coach Dennis Young. “It was kind of tough last season with it being my first year and all. But we put in a new offense and I think we are way ahead of where we were last season.”

Young is implementing a triangle offense for the Warriors, who have eight seniors on their 11-man roster. He is expecting big things from returners Esquivel and Chris Craig, and he has been particularly pleased with Scott Lusby and Brian Hanshew, two newcomers who played well in the team’s scrimmage last week against Coleville.

“Scott and Brian have been real surprises,” Young said. “Both of those guys have been playing really well. We did OK in the scrimmage. We saw some good things. We started out kind of slow but picked it up as the game went on.”

Underneath all the optimism is the reality that Whittell’s tallest player is 6-foot-3 and its next tallest players are Esquivel and Lusby, who both are listed at 6-foot or slightly taller.

“I expect us to struggle with bigger teams and we’ll have to use our quickness the best we can,” Young said. “We’re a small team and that was the case last year, but I think we are way ahead of where we were last year.”

There will be a new Northern 2A champion this year. Defending league champion West Wendover switched to the Southern 2A, while runner-up Incline moved up to the Northern 3A. The preseason favorite is probably Rite of Passage, the defending 3A state champs, which dropped down a classification. Lovelock and Hawthorne also figure to earn two of the six league playoff berths. The Warriors also hope to sneak in there.

“I don’t think many teams are expecting much out of us just because how we were last year,” Esquivel said. “But I feel we could surprise a few teams. We haven’t really talked yet about goals or anything. We’re just trying to get our offense and defense going. We’re picking up the offense pretty good.”

Whittell Basketball Schedule

Date Opponent Time

Today-Saturday Sutro Classic TBA

Dec. 7 at Coleville 7:30 p.m.

Dec. 8 STAGERIDGE 5:30 p.m.

Dec. 9-10 Lone Pine Tourney TBA

Dec. 28-30 Mesa Verde Classic TBA

Jan. 5 at Smith Valley 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 7 BATTLE MOUNTAIN 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 11 SMITH VALLEY 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 14 LOVELOCK 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 15 at Hawthorne 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 18 SILVER STAGE 7:30 p.m..

Jan. 20 RITE OF PASSAGE 6 p.m.

Jan. 22 at Independence 2:30 p.m.

Jan. 28 at Battle Mountain 7:30 p.m.

Feb. 1 COLEVILLE 7:30 p.m.

Feb. 4 at Lovelock 7:30 p.m.

Feb. 5 HAWTHORNE 5:30 p.m.

Feb. 8 at Silver Stage 7:30 p.m.

Feb. 11 at Rite of Passage 6:30 p.m.

Feb. 12 INDEPENDENCE 3:30 p.m.

Feb. 17-19 Northern 2A Playoffs TBA

Feb. 25-26 2A State Championships TBA

Note: Home games in ALL CAPS

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