Whittell settles for third in the state
RENO – Whittell High picked an inopportune time to become careless with the basketball.
The Warriors committed 20 first-half turnovers, digging a 12-point halftime hole, and despite a spirited second-half rally lost to the Needles girls 53-46 in a Nevada AA state tournament game Friday at North Valleys High School.
An indicator that it wasn’t going to be the Warriors’ night happened just before tip-off when their fans were told not to use the noisemakers that circulated in their rooting section.
Whittell leading scorer Katrina Kacirek got off to a quick start with a pair of baskets but Needles’ sticky half-court man-to-man defense began forcing turnovers. Whittell had six turnovers in the first 4 minutes and 45 seconds and an inability to get into their half-court sets without a mistake enabled Needles to slowly build a commanding lead.
“Something wasn’t there tonight, I don’t know what it was … that little spark or desire,” said Whittell coach Nathan Tolbert. “I’m not disappointed because we had such a good run. I’m only sad that the season is over.”
Compounding Whittell’s loose grip of the ball was an ankle injury to Kacirek and foul trouble to Sarah Ingenluyff. Kacirek rolled her left ankle while making a power move to the basket and had to sit out three crucial minutes. By the time Kacirek returned to the lineup, Needles was ahead 20-9.
“We were hyped up and had too much energy,” said junior center Kelly Karmann, explaining Whittell’s slow start.
Whittell guard Sarah Ingenluyff saw limited playing time as she committed four fouls and was forced to the bench early in the second quarter. She didn’t return until the fourth quarter.
Even with Kacirek back, Needles increased its lead to 15 points as the Mustangs continually beat the Warriors’ full-court press for high-percentage shots. Kacirek, however, scored the final three points of a half that ended with the Mustangs ahead 32-20.
“I knew we had more talent, but talent isn’t always the winner. You’ve got to perform, and they outperformed us,” Tolbert said.
In the second half, Whittell looked more like the team that won its first Northern 2A regional championship and qualified for state for the first time in 21 years. Protecting the ball much better – eight second-half turnovers – Whittell was able to exploit a huge inside advantage with the 6-foot-1 Karmann on the blocks. Sophomore Brittney Makara deftly passed over the top of Needles’ 2-3 zone defense, enabling Karmann to get some easy baskets.
“Brittney had that pass dialed and that makes me feel good about next year,” Tolbert said.
Karmann scored eight of her 16 points in the period and Jessica Woods added a pair of rebound baskets as Whittell closed to within 40-37.
“We just started focusing and doing what we had to do,” Woods said. “Too bad we couldn’t do it at the beginning.”
But Needles never let Whittell’s larger crowd to go crazy in the final eight minutes. Sophomore Kara Andrade scored four points early in the period as Needles got some breathing room at 47-41.
With the shots no longer dropping for the Warriors, Needles prolonged each of their possessions. The Warriors, however, waited to come out of its 2-3 zone as precious time ticked off the clock. The Warriors finally went to man in the final three minutes and Needles was able to play keep-away until sophomore Kendra Koskin committed a foul with 1:36 remaining.
The foul worked as Nancy Buegeler missed the one-and-one attempt. Woods proceeded to converted two free throws on the other end, pulling Whittell to within 47-43.
After an apparent over-and-back violation by Needles, senior Brittany Kidd sank two free throws to extend the Mustangs’ lead to 49-43 lead with 1:07 left.
Scaduto got a point back at the foul line and Karmann’s offensive rebound basket brought Whittell to within 49-46. But Whittell couldn’t get any closer.
Kidd drew Scaduto’s fifth foul with 26.7 seconds left and missed one of two attempts – a bit of luck for the Warriors since she made her first seven charity tosses.
“We kept fouling the wrong person. We put their best shooter on the line twice in a row,” Tolbert said.
An intentional foul with 8.4 seconds left provided Needles with two free throw attempts and an all-important possession to run out the clock.
Kacirek and Karmann led Whittell with 17 and 16 points, respectively, and Woods added 10. Karmann also delivered at least four blocked shots and controlled the boards.
Franki Medrano had 16 points for Needles.
Whittell, which finished with one of the most successful seasons in school history at 18-8 and tied for third in the state, will lose three of its five starters to graduation. But with Karmann, Woods, Makara, Koskin, Megan Esquivel and Joan Browne returning, the Warriors are encouraged about returning to state next season.
“We know our potential and we are going to keep pushing,” Woods said.
NEEDLES 53, WHITTELL 46
At North Valleys High School, Reno
NEEDLES – Medrano 6-16, 4-6, 16; Kidd 1-8, 7-8, 9; Solomon 2-11, 0-0, 4; Marquez 4-12, 1-2, 10; Buegeler 2-4, 0-1, 4; Andrade 4-8, 2-2, 10. Totals 19-59, 14-19, 53.
WHITTELL – Kacirek 8-17, 1-2, 17; Scaduto 0-9, 3-8, 3; Karmann 8-14, 0-0, 16; Woods 4-10, 2-2, 10; Ingenluyff 0-3, 0-0, 0; Makara 0-3, 0-0, 0; Koskin 0-1, 0-0, 0; Browne 0-1, 0-2, 0. Totals 20-58, 6-14, 46.
Needles 13 19 8 13 – 53
Whittell 7 13 17 9 – 46
Total fouls: Whittell 16, Needles 12. Fouled out: Scaduto. Three-point field goal: Needles, Marquez.
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