WHS girls clinch regional playoff berth | TahoeDailyTribune.com

WHS girls clinch regional playoff berth

By Jeremy Evans

Tribune staff writer

A roller coaster of a season for the Whittell girls’ basketball team appears to be on its way up again. After the Warriors started the season 12-1 and were ranked among the top 10 teams in Northern Nevada, they lost leading scorer Katrina Kacirek to a knee injury as well as their next five games.

Now with the return of Kacirek and junior forward Kelly Karmann, who missed almost two months because of jaw surgery, a new winning streak has started.

Whittell beat Lovelock 51-47 on Friday in Zephyr Cove and Mineral County 62-44 on Saturday in Hawthorne to clinch a berth in the Northern 2A Regional Tournament for the second consecutive season. The Warriors have won three straight games and are 15-7 overall and 3-4 in the Northern 2A.

“We’re starting to play well again,” said coach Nathan Tolbert, who played Karmann for the first time since losing her to injury. “Kelly coming back really boosted the team. We felt like we were home again.”

With a win over Silver Stage on Tuesday in Zephyr Cove, Whittell clinches the No. 3 seed at the zone tournament and avoids playing two-time league champion Battle Mountain in the semifinals. If the Warriors finish as the No. 3 seed, they will face second-seeded Lovelock in the semifinals.

The top two teams at the zone tournament advance to state. At last year’s zone tournament, Whittell lost 61-60 to Lovelock in the semifinals, finishing one game short of qualifying for state.

“We know we can beat Lovelock because we’ve already done it this season,” Tolbert said. “With Battle Mountain, we were 10 points shy (the last time we played them). That’s a lot to make up right now. I’m still confident we can beat them, and I think the girls are, too. But why make it harder than you have to right off the bat?”

After winning 12 of their first 13 games to start the season, coach Tolbert figured his team was a lock to make state this season. Injuries, though, changed Tolbert’s outlook in a hurry, but now his team is complete and healthy again after a rough stretch.

Against Lovelock, Jessica Woods finished with 12 points and 11 steals, while Kendra Koskin contributed 10 points and Kacirek nine for the Warriors, who led 38-25 going into the fourth quarter. The Mustangs were missing two players – including leading scorer Krystal Glass (16.6 points per game) – because of team suspensions, but Tolbert felt his team was playing well enough to win regardless.

“As well as we played, I don’t think it would’ve mattered if they had those two players,” said Tolbert, whos team totaled 22 steals vs. Lovelock. “They hit three 3-pointers at the end and made the game look like a lot closer than it was. It was a pretty solid win for us all the way across.”

On Saturday against Hawthorne, Kacirek had 18 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Warriors over the Serpents, who were decimated by foul trouble. Hawthorne finished the game with only three players because four players fouled out.

Taking advantage of the foul trouble was Woods, who had seven points and 13 rebounds, and Tara Scaduto, who finished 14 points and made 6 of 7 free throws in the victory. Megan Esquivel contributed nine points and Sarah Ingenluyff added seven for the Warriors, who also saw Karmann finish with nine rebounds in just five minutes of action.

Whittell’s game against Silver Stage on Tuesday begins at 6 p.m.

WHS boys drop 2 games

With a chance to sneak into the six-team Northern 2A Regional Tournament, the Whittell boys’ basketball team was eliminated from playoff contention with a 57-46 loss to Lovelock on Friday in Zephyr Cove followed by a 56-37 loss at Hawthorne on Saturday.

The Warriors, who had been playing better as of late, fell to 3-18 overall and 0-9 in league play. Jeff Young finished with a team-high 15 points and Chris Craig had 14 points against Lovelock, which jumped out to an early lead and never allowed Whittell back into the game.

Against Hawthorne, the Warriors were without starters Nick Teply and Joseph Hsiao after the duo missed the bus traveling to Hawthorne. That left the Warriors with only six players against one of the top teams in the league and the results reflected their void.

“Hawthorne, I think, is the team to beat in our league,” said WHS coach Dennis Young. “They are a well-balanced team. They could’ve beat us worse than they did, but they showed a lot of class by slowing the game down.”

The Warriors host Silver Stage on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., then finish their season with games at Rite of Passage on Thursday night and at Independence on Saturday afternoon.

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