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Whitney goes 1-2 in Winter Tournament

‘Cats hope to regroup for league
By: Jim Linsdau Placer Herald Sports Editor
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After a convincing opening win over North Valleys in the Whitney High School Winter Tournament, the Wildcats varsity boys basketball team’s fortunes took a turn for the worse and left them playing for third place against Laguna Creek. Seniors Evan Orrick and Lawaun Clark filled in the front court after Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick departed for the Under Armor All America football game in Florida, and Matt Gruber remained sidelined with an ankle injury. Both Orrick and Clark played outstanding, but the Cardinals’ energy was more than Whitney could overcome. Laguna Creek head coach, Paul Casey, said it’s difficult for a team not playing in the championship game to get up for the final contest. He was playing with a reduced roster as well, and wasn’t sure how hard the Cards would play. “I think both teams, it was going to be a question of which one was going to have any energy,” said Casey. “So I was glad we had a little bit of energy.” Laguna Creek took an early nine-point lead and that served as a cushion Whitney could shrink, but not erase. The Wildcats outscored the Cardinals in the second quarter, and matched them in the third, but still trailed by seven. With less than three minutes to play Whitney pulled to within five, but the Cards eventually pulled away for a 71-59 win. Orrick had a career night scoring 30 for the ‘Cats. He and Clark pulled down 15 rebounds between them, but Whitney simply couldn’t make up the points with only two big men on the floor. “Our plan is to get (Orrick) out and spread their bigs out, because he’s more like a guard than he is a big,” said Whitney head coach, Matthew Rickabaugh, of his 6 foot 5 leading scorer. “We have to get back together and take care of league.” Center _ In their second game, the Cougars shut down Orrick and cruised to a 60-42 victory, Dec. 29. Center came into the tournament at 9-1 and went on to win the Winter Tournament knocking off Hoover, 62-44, in the championship game. The Wildcats’ Sean Smith led the Wildcats with 14 points, Nolan Eger had seven. North Valleys _ Whitney opened with a 62-48 win over the Panthers, Dec. 28. Playing with nearly a full roster, the Wildcats wore down the Nevada team with four ‘Cats scoring in double figures. Orrick poured in 15, while Nolan Eger scored 11. Cope-Fitzpatrick and Anthony Devana each added 10. Whitney travels to Lincoln, Jan. 9, for its final preseason game. The Wildcats will open Capital Athletic League play, Jan. 17, at Mira Loma.