Whitehorse boys and girls basketball teams struggle at state

When the Whitehorse High School girls basketball team concluded their regular season on February 13, their 15-4 record was good enough for second place in the new Utah High School Activity Association RPI ranking system.
With the ranking, the Lady Raiders enjoyed a first-round bye and two weeks off before the second round began on Wednesday, February 26.
Whitehorse anticipated playing late into the championship bracket and challenging for their first-ever state title. And the weekend at the Sevier Valley Center in Richfield began well.
The second-round opponent, #18 Intermountain Christian, was just a tiny blip on the radar. The Lady Raiders destroyed the Lady Lions 62-17 and eagerly moved on to the state quarterfinals.
In their quarterfinal matchup on Thursday, February 27, Whitehorse faced #10 Panguitch, who was coming off an upset win over #7 Tabiona the night before and had the number two team in the state in their sights.
The Lady Raiders dictated the play early on. They built a 12-10 lead in the first quarter and increased it to eight points in the second.
But the Lady Bobcats rallied in the last 2:30 of the half to shrink the deficit to four points. A couple of missed shots from under the basket by Monument Valley would prove to be huge. Still, the Lady Raiders held a 31-27 advantage at the break.
The opening minutes of the second half were all Panguitch, however. The Lady Bobcats went on an 8-1 run to snatch the lead.
Monument Valley was not going quietly into the night, though. They rallied to retake the lead at 38-37 with 2:35 left in the third period and held it through the first 1:15 of the fourth quarter.
But again, Panguitch opened the quarter strong, scoring eight straight points to take the advantage away from the Lady Raiders. From that point, the teams went basket-for-basket headed toward the finish line in an exciting battle.
Tied at 52-52 with just four seconds to go, the Lady Bobcats scored to go up by a bucket and Whitehorse took a timeout to set up an inbound play.
When action resumed, the Lady Raiders inbounded the ball to Zhoni Filfred, who skillfully ran the floor and threw up a last-second three. It sailed wide as the buzzer sounded with Whitehorse suffering a heartbreaking loss, 54-52.
Panguitch was impressive from the floor in the upset, hitting 21 of 38 shot attempts for 55 percent. Whitehorse put up 54 shots in the game but only hit 20 (37 percent).
The Lady Bobcats were 11 of 19 from the free throw line (58 percent) while Whitehorse was eight of 15 (53 percent).
Amazingly, the loss dropped the Lady Raiders to the fifth place semifinals where they faced their biggest rivals in the state, Monument Valley, for the third and final time.
The two old foes tipped it off just before noon on Friday, February 28. From the opening tip it was evident that Whitehorse hearts were just not in the game after the tough loss the previous night.
Monument Valley opened with a 16-4 first quarter and never looked back, dominating the Lady Raiders 58-35. As they watched their rivals advance to the fifth place game, they understood they would not be playing on the fourth day of the tournament.
Junior Zhoni Filfred led state tournament scoring for Whitehorse with 51 points in the three games. Senior Daan Filfred scored 36, and junior Ashonte Dickson tallied 32.
Tyra Redhouse added eight points in Richfield, Rueshunda Jim and Tewa Martin got six apiece, Sam McKeeda scored four, and Kianna Willie rounded out the Lady Raider scoring on the weekend with two.
Zhoni Filfred and Dickson hit a trio of three-point baskets each, with Daan Filfred and Redhouse adding one apiece.
The conclusion of the season is a bitter pill for a Whitehorse team that finished in fourth place in 2018-19. Though it wasn’t what they hoped, the girls finish with a solid 16-6 overall record, even after the two losses at the state tournament.
The Lady Raiders will hold their heads high, and they’ll be right back on the court next winter to continue the fight for excellence. Congratulations to head coach Tiona Grant and all the players on an outstanding 2019-2020 season.
BOYS BASKETBALL
Tens were wild for the Whitehorse boys basketball team. They finished the 2019-2020 regular season with a 10-10 record, ranked #10 in the 1A UHSAA RPI standings.
They earned a first-round bye and headed to Richfield to take on #7 Piute Thunderbirds in the second round of the state tournament.
Unfortunately, the Raiders were flat from the start; Piute outscored them 13-6 in the first quarter. Though Whitehorse played the Thunderbirds fairly evenly for the remaining three periods, the damage was done and the Raiders fell 55-35.
Almost immediately upon arriving in Richfield, Whitehorse found themselves fighting for their playoff lives. As long as they won, they would continue the fight for sixth place. A loss would send them home early.
On Thursday, February 27 they faced the #15 Milford Tigers in the sixth place quarterfinals. Whitehorse led for most of the first half, and the game was close until they were tied 25-25 midway through the third quarter.
However, from that point, Milford outscored the Raiders 22-12 to go up 47-37 with 3:30 left in the game. Whitehorse battled to stay in it down the stretch, but the Tigers held them off for a 55-49 final.
D’Wayne Nakai led the Raiders with 21 points in their two games at the tourney. Deandre Benn scored 19, Lanedon Bob tallied 18, Weston Manygoats added 10, T’Kenya Yazzie got eight, Xavier Martin six, and Malakai Sam scored two.
Nakai and Bob hit five three-pointers each at the tournament and Manygoats got two. The Raiders finish with a 10-12 record, the most wins for Whitehorse in three seasons.
Congratulations to head coach Evan Grant, the coaching staff, and all the players on another excellent year.

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