Whittell girls b-ball dependent on depth in 2015-16, seeks improvement | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Whittell girls b-ball dependent on depth in 2015-16, seeks improvement

Anthony Gentile
Whittell junior Samantha Forvilly drives to the basket between a pair of teammates during practice on Wednesday, Dec. 3.
Anthony Gentile / Tahoe Daily Tribune |

2015-16 Regular Season Schedule

Dec. 3-5 John Holland Classic (at Greenville)

Dec. 9-11 Whittell Tournament

Dec. 9 vs. Incline, 6 p.m.

Dec. 10 vs. Greenville, 3 p.m.

Dec. 10 vs. Owyhee, 6 p.m.

Dec. 11 vs. West Wendover, 4:30 p.m.

*Jan. 5 at Sierra Lutheran, 6 p.m.

Jan. 6 at South Tahoe, 7:30 p.m.

*Jan. 8 at Excel Christian, 6 p.m.

*Jan. 9 vs. Smith Valley, 4 p.m.

*Jan. 12 vs. Coleville, 6 p.m.

*Jan. 15 vs. Mineral County, 6 p.m.

*Jan. 16 at Sage Ridge, 2:30 p.m.

*Jan. 21 vs. Sage Ridge 4 p.m.

*Jan. 23 vs. Virginia City, 4 p.m.

*Jan. 26 at Pyramid Lake, 6 p.m.

*Jan. 29 at Mineral County, 6 p.m.

Jan. 30 vs. Loyalton, 2:30 p.m.

*Feb. 2 at Coleville, 6 p.m.

*Feb. 5 at Smith Valley, 4 p.m.

*Feb. 6 vs. Excel Christian, 4 p.m.

*Feb. 9 vs. Pyramid Lake, 6 p.m.

*Feb. 12 vs. Sierra Lutheran, 6 p.m.

*Feb. 13 at Virginia City, 4 p.m.

Home games in bold

*Div. IV West League games

The Whittell girls basketball team has quality depth entering the 2015-16 campaign. The Warriors are counting on those numbers to lead to a successful season.

“It’s a matter of what they want to put into it,” Warriors coach Tom Esposito said. “If they want to work hard, they have the potential to get it — we have speed and athleticism, and our bench is deeper than it’s been in a while.”

Whittell went 8-16 last season and finished in sixth place in Div. IV West League. The Warriors lost only one starter from last year’s team, and are optimistic to end a seven-year postseason drought that dates back to 2008-09 — Esposito’s first season as the team’s head coach.

“If we play to our potential, we could do well this year,” Esposito said. “I don’t know whether the league is up or down, but we just need to make sure we get up — it doesn’t matter who is out there.”

“We have speed and athleticism, and our bench is deeper than it’s been in a while.”Tom EspositoWarriors coach

Much of the Warriors’ optimism centers around their overall depth. Whittell could go as many as 10 players deep during the season, and a deeper bench will allow it to play with pace both offensively and defensively.

“It was a big issue last year. We couldn’t go hard — we would just wear ourselves down,” Esposito said. “We are making some big changes.”

Defensively, Whittell plans to full-court press its opponents as much as possible and primarily play person-to-person defensively. On offense, the Warriors will look to score in transition as much as possible and use their pressure to create turnovers and high-percentage looks.

“We want to break out and we want to fast break,” Esposito said. “Our scoring isn’t really strong right now. We’re trying to drive more, and hopefully the shooting comes along.”

Whittell’s captains are its three seniors — Kelsey Kjer, Jordyn Becker and Chelsea Aguirre-Rodriguez. Esposito expects the 5-10 Becker to be a force inside for the Warriors this season.

“She’s going to be dominant,” Esposito said. “She’s one of the best post players I’ve had, and we have to feed inside a lot.”

Juniors Samantha Forvilly and Ali Copsy, who both started last season, bolster the Warriors’ group of returners. Among the team’s new players, freshmen Anna White and Madison Burch are likely to make a quick impact.

“The key for this group is cooperation — if everybody buys into being a team member, helping each other out and making themselves better,” Esposito said. “Everybody can’t just want it to happen, they have to make it happen.”

The Whittell girls team is hoping to channel the recent success of the boys program, and to that effect has been practicing in close proximity with its male counterparts. Both teams share the court a couple times a week during practice, including running drills and plays against each other.

“The intensity level is definitely up when we play against the guys,” Esposito said. “Playing against state champions is pretty good practice — working out with the guys and coach Bryant is for sure a plus for us.”

Whittell opened the season with three games in three days at the John Holland Classic at Greenville High (Calif.) starting Thursday, Dec. 3. The Warriors face Incline on Wednesday, Dec. 9, in their home opener to tip off the Whittell Tournament — that will start a stretch of four games in three days.

“With the Whittell Tournament, I’d like to see if we’re going in the right direction,” Esposito said. “If we’re not, then we’re going to have to make some adjustments.”

The Warriors have three weeks off between their early season tournaments and the start of Div. IV West League action. Whittell opens league play at Sierra Lutheran on Jan. 5 before facing crosstown rival South Tahoe on the road the following night.

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