Whittell has eyes on the Tigers
Thursday’s late high school basketball game at Zephyr Cove matches Douglas and dauntless.
Whittell’s boys (3-6) seem to get a kick out of proving they’re fearless, winning two rounds of the Battle of the Lake tournament against bigger teams, then scheduling a meeting with 4A Douglas immediately after holiday break. The 3A Warriors and 4A Tigers (5-5) tip off at 7:30 p.m., giving Whittell a tough test in its final non-league game.
“We’re preparing for Incline next week,” said Whittell head coach Steve Maltase. “This game is a good one for us. They’re going to be good. There’s no question about it.”
Maltase’s counterpart on the Douglas bench is his former assistant. Second-year head coach Keith Lewis was an assistant when Douglas last played Whittell, and will face off against Maltase for the first time as head coach. Plus, Douglas faces the additional pressure of playing a smaller school.
“I think there’s pressure,” Lewis said. “Obviously, not to take anything away from Whittell, you’re expected to beat them.
“I told (Maltase), they better not run the score up on us,” Lewis joked.
Douglas looked to start the season with five players – four of them seniors – returning to start from last year’s 13-12 (6-6 in the Northern Nevada 4A) squad, but has rearranged its lineup. The team promoted 5-10 senior Mike Saylo to its starting point guard after parting ways with his predecessor, and moved senior Kyle Baker and junior Brandon Griffith to the bench for more punch off the pine. The front line of 6-4 junior center Seth Lee, 6-3 senior Jared Petersen and 6-2 senior Josh Wilcox has remained intact.
That is, it remained intact until the Whittell game. Lee, Douglas’s best player, will sit the non-league contest for a disciplinary reason Lewis called “undeserved”, and the coach is looking for other players to step up in his absence. That’s a tall order for reasons other than Lee’s height.
“We’re going to miss Seth, because he’s averaging 20 points, nine rebounds and five steals,” Lewis said. “He’s having a pretty good year.”
Whittell also has endured flux, and moved on. The Warriors dropped four games before winning their first of the season, upsetting North Tahoe in the first round of Whittell’s home Battle of the Lake tournament. The Warriors beat Truckee the second day, but lost their finale 72-65 to Incline, to finish the tournament 2-1 and head into the holiday break.
With no starters over 6-1, Whittell wins with defense. The Warriors have been at their best with starting senior guards Chris Markt and Avery Norman pressuring the ball, forward Todd Echan cleaning the boards, and keeping its composure as a team on the court.
“In order for us to stay in the game, we’re just going to have to play good defense and take care of the ball on the offensive end,” Maltase said.
“This is going to be a good example of what it’s going to take every night (in league),” Maltase said.
The offense has come and gone, failing Whittell on a three-game road trip to the Portola, Calif., tournament and resurfacing in the Battle of the Lake. But defense has carried the Warriors. Plus, as a former Warriors assistant, Lewis knows what to expect from Whittell’s vocal fans.
“It’s a hard place to play,” he said.
That seemed to take its toll on Whittell’s Battle of the Lake opponents. Lewis seemed determined that wouldn’t affect his Tigers.
“The bottom line right now is, we’re more concerned about what we’re doing.”
Prospective starting lineups for Thursday’s game:
Douglas boys at Whittell, 7:30 p.m., Zephyr Cove
Whittell Warriors (3-6); head coach: Steve Maltase
G – Chris Markt, 5-7 senior: Fiery defensive leader can give bigger guards problems
G – Avery Norman, 6-0 senior: Whittell’s leading scorer in the Battle of the Lake hurt North Tahoe, Truckee inside, outside and on defense
F – Trent Gordon, 6-0 senior: Made big shots down the stretch against Truckee
F – Todd Echan, 5-10 senior: Outsized power forward combines good jump shot, nearly 11 boards a game
F – Kyle Spingola, 5-11 senior: Averaging around six points and three rebounds a game as part-time starter
Douglas Tigers (5-5); head coach: Keith Lewis
G – Mike Saylo, 5-10 senior: Former reserve has played well, averaging 10 points, five assists, four steals per game as starter
G – Jared Kenison, 6-1 junior: Defensive stopper in Douglas’s revamped backcourt
F – Taylor Cohee, 6-1 senior: Absences move 10-ppg. scorer to swing spot
F – Josh Wilcox, 6-2 senior: Scores three points per game for Douglas
F – Jared Peterson, 6-3 senior: Douglas’s biggest player without 6-4 starter Seth Lee has pulled down six rebounds per game
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