It was over all too fast for the Eureka boys in the Northern regional tournament in Elko last week. The Vandals bowed out in the first round losing 71-37 to Whittell.
The Warriors, the No. 2 seed from the west going into the tourney, poured it on consistently against the Vandals. They had three players with 14 points each, Genaro Mena, Trent Dingman and Troy Libert.
That combination helped Whittell fashion a hefty 37-16 halftime lead. The teams played even in the third quarter, but Whittell turned it up in the final period with a 22-7 run.
“We were just outmatched,” said Vandal coach Fred Minoletti. “We just don’t have the players they do to keep up with them. Whittell has three really good guards. They put a lot of pressure on us and we just don’t have the kids to really handle that very well. They jumped out early on us.”
For Eureka (14-11), Vinnie Padilla had 11 points, Tristan Bircham had 10.
The Warriors (26-3) then went on to beat defending state champion Mineral County on Saturday for the regional championship.
Both teams advance to the state tournament semifinals Friday at the Lawlor Events Center at UNR. Whittell will first face a very athletic Spring Mountain team (25-5) from Las Vegas that may be a complete handful for the Warriors.
Pahranagat Valley, the Southern regional No. 1 seed, takes on defending state champion Mineral County (24-6) in the other semifinal game in what will be a rematch of last year’s boys championship game.
Minoletti said Eureka loses only three seniors off the team, Vinnie Padilla, Carlin Hooper and C.W. Landry. They look to return 11 players for next year’s squad.
He noted, “We have a lot of work to do, but we will still be a young team with much to look forward to.”