Whittell game a homecoming of sorts
When Whittell’s girls play host to Douglas in tonight’s basketball game, it will represent a sort of homecoming – and not just for Lindsay Wines’ hometown Warriors.
That’s because this game – the final game in a harrowing three-day stretch – will match Whittell alumnus Werner Christen with childhood friend Wines for a 6 p.m. meeting. It also is the final non-league stop for Wines’ road-weary Warriors, who face their second 4A opponent in three days, after losing 44-10 at South Tahoe on Tuesday.
“I think these (Douglas) girls will be, next to Hawthorne, probably one of the toughest teams we’ll play all year,” Wines said. “I think it’s going to be a real tough game for us, but we’ve just got to try to win some small battles along the way.”
Whittell has faced those small battles all year, usually in the form of rebounding and limiting turnovers, and Wines estimated her young team has met its goals about half the time. A different problem hounded Whittell against South Tahoe, though: The Warriors missed open layups, and had jump shots rim out. By halftime, Whittell had scored just one field goal, and the Warriors would add only three more by the end of the game. So it’s little surprise Wines focused Wednesday’s practice on shooting.
“We got accomplished what we wanted to accomplish,” Wines said. “They all got a lot of shots.”
Whittell enters the game with a 0-6 record, but the season has started better half an hour to the east. Christen and the Tigers just returned from the Lady Bulldog Continental Holiday Classic in Las Vegas, where they raised their record to 9-3 by winning three out of five games.
“There were some good teams and there were some weak teams,” Christen said.
The game, though, will take Christen back to his alma mater, where his favorite teacher, Howard Bennett, is now principal, and his friend Wines is head coach.
“Lindsay does a good job up there,” he said. “I’m looking forward to going up there and playing.”
The game matches a 4A team that seems to have turned a corner with a struggling 3A team. So Christen, too, is looking for small victories in the games within the game.
“We want to win the game, of course,” Christen said. “Every time you play, you want to win.
“I want everyone to play, and I want everyone to play well.”
Douglas can go 13-14 deep, a luxury Whittell’s young team doesn’t have. Both teams can vary their lineups, but Whittell seems to have one starter penned in permanently, in junior wing Caitlin Fagan. Fagan leads the Warriors in scoring, and had a team-high six points against South Tahoe a day after matching senior forward Courtney Benvenuto with eight against Downieville, Calif.
Ashley Berns, a 5-10 sophomore who had one of the four Warriors field goals against South Tahoe, is Whittell’s likely starting center. Berns is one of the tallest on the team, and has been improving her offensive skills after moving up from junior varsity last year.
Tonight’s game is Whittell’s final contest before starting its league schedule at Incline on Tuesday. That will mark the start of a two-game road trip before Whittell returns home for a league game against Yerington on Jan. 12.
And, as Christen knows, there’s nothing like going back to where you started.
“It’s always fun to go back home,” Christen said.
Prospective starting lineups:
Douglas girls at Whittell, 6 p.m. Zephyr Cove
Douglas Tigers (9-3); head coach Werner Christen
G – Kim Smith, 5-7 senior: Vacation absences give defensive specialist chance to start, raise average of two points per game
G – Christie Burruel, 5-2 senior: Another defensive specialist takes over Douglas’s wide-open two-spot against Whittell
F – Stephanie Combes, 5-8 senior or Natalie Stratton, 5-6 senior: Combes is a scorer, while Stratton returns from an injury
F- Michelle Roza, 5-7 senior: Douglas’s leading rebounder averages six boards a game, and does the dirty work for the Tigers
C – Jessica Grant, 6-2 senior: Leading scorer with 10 points per game
Whittell Warriors (0-6); head coach Lindsay Wines
G – Nichole Wasson, 5-3 senior: Downieville was unable to keep determined guard off the boards on Tuesday, but South Tahoe could
G – Alisha Roth, 5-6 junior: Splits point duties with Wasson, Caitlin Fagan
G/F – Caitlin Fagan, 5-6 junior: Whittell’s leading scorer had 14 in two games this week
F – Courtney Benvenuto, 5-3 senior: Determined first-year player is reliable rebounder for Whittell
C – Ashley Berns, 5-10 sophomore: One of Whittell’s three field goals against South Tahoe
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