Whittell to face Vegas powerhouse
For the first time under Steve Maltase, the Whittell Warriors are in the Nevada 2A state boys basketball championship.
In their opening game of the two-day tournament, the Warriors draw probably one of the toughest opponents in the championship in The Meadows School from Las Vegas, which went undefeated in league and are division champions.
None of which bothers Maltase.
“Once you get to a game like this, it doesn’t matter about records,” the sixth-year coach said. “It’s just a matter of who wants it more.”
While The Meadows may be the toughest opponent in the tournament, Whittell has to be one of the hottest.
After entering the division playoffs as the No. 3 seed, the Warriors came from behind to beat Lovelock in the first game and had little trouble with Tonopah, who only lost two games all season.
“Obviously, they’re a dangerous team,” Meadows coach Greg Goorjian said. “They are probably the most dangerous team in the tournament.”
The Meadows plays a similar style game to both of the Warriors’ division opponents, up-tempo and running. While Whittell prefers to slow the game down and work its offense.
“They are very deliberate on offense, you have to be to win a 49-47 game,” Goorjian said. “We like to run an up-tempo style game, we want to make them adjust to us.”
Although Whittell relies mainly on a motion offense, the Warriors like to run when they are able to spur the transition game through their defense.
“They’ve got a good point guard and a good post player,” Maltase said. “Both Tonopah and Lovelock liked to run their offense through their point guards as well.
“So we’re just going to try to make them go through someone else and take them out of the game.”
The Warrior backcourt of Nestor Flores and Nick Summers have been the catalyst of the Whittell offense down the stretch, with Flores coming up big in the two division games, scoring 21 against Tonopah to put his team into the state playoffs.
Although the two teams’ styles of the play are different, the two foes are not unfamiliar with each other.
Whittell and The Meadows squared off back in December with Meadows coming out on top, 68-49.
But, for both coaches that game is ancient history. They know their teams are different ball clubs now in late February than they were in the first match up.
“We know they’re going to be a better team,” Goorjian said. “We’re a different club as well.”
If there are any obvious advantages for either team, it is that Whittell only has to travel 50 miles to the tournament at Lawlor Event Center on the campus of the University of Nevada, Reno; while The Meadows has to travel seven hours to get there.
However, both teams will have to adjust to the early 9 a.m. game time. To do so, Maltase is having his team practice from 8:30- 10 a.m. this week.
“They’ve had some difficulty getting used to the early time,” the coach said. “But, after a couple days, they’ve really gotten used to it.
“If you can’t get up for a game like this, then there is something wrong with you.”
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