Whittell Warriors avenge lone league loss, top Sierra Lutheran
The Whittell boys’ basketball team avenged its lone league loss of the season Friday, Jan. 19.
The Warriors now sit alone atop the 1A Western League standings.
The boys rallied from 10 points down to beat Sierra Lutheran 51-46 in overtime in Carson City and also trounced Virginia City 60-41 the next day in Zephyr Cove.
The Warriors (9-1 Western League) moved into first place alone, just ahead of Mineral County (8-1 Western) and Sierra Lutheran (8-2 Western) and well in front of fourth place Virginia City (6-4 Western).
The Warriors, who lost to Sierra Lutheran 45-33 at home Jan. 10, started slow against the Falcons. The teams were tied at 13 after the first period and the Warriors trailed by five at halftime, 23-18.
“We still struggled early with missed shots,” said Warriors head coach Phil Bryant. “Going in at halftime, we were down five but felt good about where we were in the game. But it was a great win for us on the road and now makes every other game even more important.”
In their loss, the Warriors couldn’t stop the Falcons from getting to the rim and scoring from close range. The rematch was quite different. Sierra Lutheran hit four 3-pointers in the first half — somewhat of an anomaly for a team that isn’t known for outside shooting.
“Steve Maltase, my assistant, said it well at halftime when he told the team that those perimeter shots were ‘fools gold’ and they might keep shooting them instead of attacking the rim,” Bryant said. “I also felt that when they came out in a press and had to face ours as well, that we could wear them down. We are used to playing that way for 32 minutes and we knew they weren’t.”
That seemed to be the case as the Warriors rallied from 10 points down in the fourth quarter to force overtime. Whittell forced several turnovers and was aggressive offensively to tie the game and pull away in overtime.
Bryant also in the second half switched to a diamond-and-one defense with Isaiah Womack on the Falcons top threat, Zane Warkentin. Womack held Warkentin to a basket and two free throws in the second half after he scored nine in the first half.
Bryant pointed to a few players who helped the Warriors cause.
Troy Libert pulled down 10 rebounds and made several blocks while altering even more and Nic Buchholz came off the bench as the sixth man and provided energy in the press and grabbed five fourth-quarter rebounds and also scored four points.
Trent Dingman led the Warriors with 16 points, including 10 of 12 from the charity stripe. Genaro Mena scored 12 points and six came in overtime.
“Genaro continues to be a huge factor for us,” Bryant said. “He seems to love the spotlight and the pressure of being in it. Corey (Huber, the Warriors leading scorer) was off on offense but contributes in so many other ways that it wasn’t a factor other than the margin of the win.”
The Warriors have six games remaining, the next three at home and the last three on the road. Whittell next will play Mineral County at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 26, in Zephyr Cove.