Whittell hoopsters rout Sierra Lutheran, grab control of West League
ZEPHYR COVE, Nev. — It was chippy, physical and there was a lot of chatter.
But in the final moments Friday night, it was Whittell seniors Trent Dingman and Isaiah Womack smiling while shooting free throws to close out Sierra Lutheran and grab control of the 1A West League.
The Warriors used a 21-6 run in the third quarter to break open a close game and beat the Falcons 58-43 in Zephyr Cove, Nev.
Whittell is tied for first place with Sierra Lutheran, who beat the Warriors 55-46 on Jan. 15. But the second round victory trumps the first result and the Warriors will own the No. 1 seed in the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association Northern Regional playoffs if they win their final four league games.
“This is definitely the most emotional game I’ve ever been in,” Womack said. “Honestly, I don’t like Sierra Lutheran and I don’t say that about a lot of schools. Beating them on our home court by that margin and hopefully take that No. 1 seed going into playoffs feels great.”
The atmosphere was electric inside the gymnasium. Sierra Lutheran had a strong contingent make the trip from Carson City and they cheered every bit as loud as the home crowd.
Whittell and its fans owned the first quarter as the Warriors jumped out to a 10-4 lead with five different players scoring baskets.
Sierra Lutheran made its fans happy in the second eight minutes. Led by big man Logan Schinzing’s nine points, the Falcons outscored the Warriors 19-14 and went into halftime trailing just 24-23.
The Falcons grabbed a brief first-half lead, 23-21, but Sterling Manchester grabbed an offensive rebound, made the putback and got fouled in the process. He drained his freebie to put Whittell back in front.
“I thought we played with great energy, something we didn’t do the first time,” said Warriors head coach Phil Bryant. “Even over there in the first game I thought we were the better team. We don’t have the inside game they do, but we have enough confidence in our outside game that we can compensate.”
Whittell and Dingman owned the rest of the game.
Dingman found the stroke from long distance and hit four 3-pointers and scored 14 of his game-high 21 points in the third quarter.
He hit back-to-back 3s to put the Warriors up 42-27 with two minutes left in the third period.
“It was our best defensive game by far this season,”Dingman said. “I think this will be a turning point when we really start playing as a team. We didn’t really have chemistry going into this game but at this point, we were moving the ball really well, playing good defense and helping each other. It was really good game overall.”
Whittell entered the final period up 45-29.
Sierra Lutheran didn’t get much closer the rest of the way. The Falcons began fouling late, but Womack and Dingman drained their free throws, all why smiling as players traded barbs back and forth.
“There were mentions of previous games, football games, previous playoffs, they did anything to try and take us down,” Womack said. “We do it too though. It’s not one-sided.
Dingman seemed to especially take pleasure in draining late free throws to sink the Falcons’ hopes.
“This was definitely a fun game,” Dingman said. “They didn’t have Zane (Warkentin), but they are great competitors. They played hard. Their coach had a good game plan installed, but at the end of the day Phil Bryant is the best coach in northern Nevada if not all of Nevada and he put in an even better game plan.”
Dingman added six rebounds and three assists for the Warriors (16-1, 5-1 West) while Womack scored 15 points, hauled in a team-high seven boards and made three steals, Manchester netted seven points and grabbed six rebounds, Malachi Womack had six points and six board, Jack Johnson scored four and Dylan Wade hit a dagger fourth-quarter 3-pointer and also brought down seven boards.
The Warriors have four league games remaining and they beat those four foes by an average of 29 points in the first round of league play.
They play Tuesday, weather permitting, at Pyramid Lake (2-10, 0-5 West) and return home at 7:30 p.m. Friday to host Excel Christian (2-11, 1-3 West).
“I thought we defended well, even though their big guy did some damage in the first half,” Bryant said. “I thought we got back to him and we rebounded exceptionally well tonight. That was a big factor. And the kids wanted it because if it came down to a tiebreaker, and if we both win out, we win the championship and No. 1 seed because we won the second round game. It was a gut check for us and I thought they responded really well.”