Whittell looks for respect as division play opens
For area sports fans, the month of January is synonymous with the Super Bowl, World Cup skiing … and the beginning of prep basketball league play, which begins today in Zephyr Cove for Whittell High School’s girls and boys basketball teams.
The Warrior boys open at 7:30 p.m. against Incline, hoping to improve on last season’s 2-9 Nevada 3A Division II record. Whittell has already eclipsed 1998’s 3-19 mark with a 5-6 start, including impressive wins over Fernley and defending state champion Truckee.
Warriors coach Steve Maltase said injured guard Dusty Apocotos, who had been sidelined with an ankle injury, will play against the Highlanders. Apocotos’ return, coupled with Whittell’s young, evolving talent, has Maltase feeling like the Warriors are a playoff-caliber team.
“We’re last in a Nevada preps magazine and seventh in the league coaches poll, so we have nothing to lose this year,” Maltase said. “We don’t feel like a lot of teams respect us, so we have to go out there and earn it.”
Whittell girls coach Lindsay Wines will bring a young, healthy squad to the hardwood today at 6 p.m. in their division opener against rival Incline. The Warriors are fresh off a 41-38 home win over Downeyville and hope to capitalize at home against a depleted Highlander team.
“They lost a lot of players to graduation,” said Whittell coach Lindsay Wines. “Incline has a pretty good point guard and they do well in the post. They’re a team I think we can beat, though.”
As with many green squads, several Warrior teammates are playing with each other for the first time. The learning curve is already well underway, Wines said.
“We’re not as far along as I want to be, but we’re pretty close,” said Wines, who is in her eighth season as the Warriors coach. “I feel a lot better about how we’re developing than I did at the beginning of the season.”
With a maturing team, Wines said goals exist more in the game-to-game variety than in win totals and league rankings.
“The opening game is pretty big,” Wines said. “I’d like to get a win and set the tone for the rest of the season.”
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