Whittell girls basketball wins one at home tournament, beats Greenville for second time
ZEPHYR COVE — The Whittell girls basketball team delivered encouraging performances to close out its home tournament last weekend. The Warriors won one of three games in the last two days of the Whittell TSE Invitational last Friday and Saturday, Dec. 11 and 12, with the victory coming over Greenville (Calif.).
After inclement weather cancelled tournament play on Thursday, Dec. 10, Whittell played three games on its home court over the next two days. The results brought the Warriors’ season record to 2-6.
“It opened my eyes to who wants to be out there and who doesn’t,” Warriors coach Tom Esposito said. “We’re going to make some changes — there may be less talent and experience out there, but we’ll have more effort and we’re going to go that route.”
Whittell’s victory came on Friday, Dec. 11, against Greenville. The Warriors prevailed 57-34 for their second win over the Indians in a week — they also beat Greenville by 23 points at the John Holland Classic on Dec. 5.
“We had our full-court press on and scored off defensive steals,” Esposito said.
Sophomore Kaitlyn Kjer played on the front line of Whittell’s press against the Tigers, and it led to a career-best offensive performance. She scored a team-high 16 points, with junior Ali Copsy adding nine and freshman Brianna Johns chipping in seven.
“She was fast breaking,” Esposito said of Kjer. “She leaked out and was able to get the outlet pass down deep for some pretty easy layups.”
In its second game Friday, Whittell delivered a strong performance in a losing effort. The Warriors fell to Div. I-A opposition Dayton 59-47, staying with the Dust Devils after a slow start.
“That was our best game of the season even though we got beat,” Esposito said. “Against a bigger school, we stood up to the challenge, and it was a good performance. We played them hard.”
Whittell trailed 17-10 after the first quarter and fell behind by 14 points at halftime. The Warriors matched Dayton after the break en route to a 12-point defeat.
“That was a strong game offensively, and we were able to put some pressure on them and force turnovers,” Esposito said. “We didn’t think we would be able to do that, but we were able to figure it out.”
Copsy led Whittell with 16 points and junior Samantha Forvilly had 14. Dayton’s Angela Sikora scored a game-high 36 points for the visitors — including 24 in the first half before the Warriors switched to a box-and-one with Johns guarding her.
On Saturday, Dec. 12, Whittell concluded tournament play with a lopsided loss to Div. I opposition Wooster. The Warriors fell 55-20 to the Colts, overmatched from the outset in defeat.
“They were big and they bumped us off of a lot of stuff early,” Esposito said. “We weren’t as aggressive as we could have been.”
Senior Kelsey Kjer had six points to lead the Warriors against Wooster. Whittell’s 35-point loss to the Colts included a scoreless third quarter.
Whittell has a two-week break before returning to action at Sierra Lutheran on Tuesday, Jan. 5. Tipoff for the Warriors’ Div. IV West League opener is scheduled for 6 p.m.