Whitko Offense Shines In Big Win Over North Miami

February 1, 2024 at 9:35 p.m.
Senior Sam Essegian of Whitko makes a valiant effort to save the ball while attempting a steal. Photo by Gary Nieter
Senior Sam Essegian of Whitko makes a valiant effort to save the ball while attempting a steal. Photo by Gary Nieter

By Connor McCann

Enjoying a fantastic start to the season, the Whitko boys basketball team set their sights on North Miami Thursday night in a home game that had the potential to improve the Wildcats’ Three Rivers Conference record. Taking care of business from the opening tip onwards, Whitko was able to cruise to a 67-37 win.
The game began with a North Miami basket, a three pointer on the team’s second possession. The rest of the first quarter, quite literally, would belong to Whitko. 20 more points would be scored in the period, all by the Wildcats. The offense of the home team was crisp, using quick ball movement to keep the Warriors on their toes all while finding wide open players who more times than not converted on their opportunities.
No player converted more of his shots in the first half than senior Kyler Krull, who was honored before the game for scoring his 1,000th point earlier this season. Krull was a menace on the offensive end, whether his shots came from down low or around the perimeter. The forward scored 10 points in the quarter on a pair of threes and a pair of shots down low.

    Whitko senior Kyler Krull extends while shooting over the North Miami defense during the second quarter of Thursday night's home game. Photo by Gary Nieter

Also coming up big in the first quarter was fellow senior Sam Essegian. He’d score just four in the opening eight minutes, but would fill up the box score in every way imaginable, grabbing rebounds, blocking shots and coming away with more than a few assists on the offensive end. After a big first quarter, the Wildcats were up 17.
The run continued into the second, eventually ending at 25-0 on a pair of North Miami free throws. The visitors would have much more offensive success than they did a quarter prior, but it did not matter much. Whitko continued to spread the ball around here, with Easton Grable making his third three of the game early in the quarter to give him nine first half points.
The highlight of the first half came late in the second quarter, when a wide open Krull made his way to the rim and threw down a thunderous dunk that temporarily bent it out of place. While the dunk brought down the house, Krull would miss the rest of the first half with a bloody finger.
Essegian would fill in as the team’s top scorer in his absence perfectly, putting up eight points in the second to make him the second player in the game to reach double figures. The Wildcat lead approached 30 at multiple points throughout the second, but never got that high. Heading into the half, Whitko was up by 26.
The trend continued into the third. With Krull returning to the game, he resumed his role as the team’s main scorer, with Essegian doing well to compliment him with some tough work down low. Grable and Riley Harman did well in their roles as secondary point-getters, with Grable hitting his first two-pointer midway through the period to become the third Wildcat in double figures.
Harman would join the club with less than a minute to go in the period, hitting a midrange jumper to give him an even 10 points on the night. There were multiple points in the quarter in which Whitko’s lead grew to 33 or 34 points, bringing them ever closer to initiating the running clock. But each time, the Warriors would find a way to hit a shot that would bring it back down, but not by much. With just eight minutes to go, the Wildcats lead of 32 points felt extremely comfortable.
The fourth quarter began with Ethan Yates and Caden Deneve coming in and getting their first minutes of the game. Deneve would score the first three points of the period for the home side, finally getting the lead to 35 and putting the running clock into effect.
That would be the beginning of the end, as not long after, both teams filled the court with their bench players. A few starters remained in the contest, including point guard Jaylen Gibson, who drained his second three of the night after spending most of the game getting his guys involved. North Miami was able to make a few shots down the stretch to make the score a bit more respectable, but the result was never in question.
Krull led all scorers in the game with 20 points while adding six rebounds. Essegian finished with 17 points and a game-high seven rebounds. Grable added eleven points while Harman scored 10.
Whitko (12-3, 5-2 TRC) is on the road Saturday afternoon at Garrett.

Enjoying a fantastic start to the season, the Whitko boys basketball team set their sights on North Miami Thursday night in a home game that had the potential to improve the Wildcats’ Three Rivers Conference record. Taking care of business from the opening tip onwards, Whitko was able to cruise to a 67-37 win.
The game began with a North Miami basket, a three pointer on the team’s second possession. The rest of the first quarter, quite literally, would belong to Whitko. 20 more points would be scored in the period, all by the Wildcats. The offense of the home team was crisp, using quick ball movement to keep the Warriors on their toes all while finding wide open players who more times than not converted on their opportunities.
No player converted more of his shots in the first half than senior Kyler Krull, who was honored before the game for scoring his 1,000th point earlier this season. Krull was a menace on the offensive end, whether his shots came from down low or around the perimeter. The forward scored 10 points in the quarter on a pair of threes and a pair of shots down low.

    Whitko senior Kyler Krull extends while shooting over the North Miami defense during the second quarter of Thursday night's home game. Photo by Gary Nieter

Also coming up big in the first quarter was fellow senior Sam Essegian. He’d score just four in the opening eight minutes, but would fill up the box score in every way imaginable, grabbing rebounds, blocking shots and coming away with more than a few assists on the offensive end. After a big first quarter, the Wildcats were up 17.
The run continued into the second, eventually ending at 25-0 on a pair of North Miami free throws. The visitors would have much more offensive success than they did a quarter prior, but it did not matter much. Whitko continued to spread the ball around here, with Easton Grable making his third three of the game early in the quarter to give him nine first half points.
The highlight of the first half came late in the second quarter, when a wide open Krull made his way to the rim and threw down a thunderous dunk that temporarily bent it out of place. While the dunk brought down the house, Krull would miss the rest of the first half with a bloody finger.
Essegian would fill in as the team’s top scorer in his absence perfectly, putting up eight points in the second to make him the second player in the game to reach double figures. The Wildcat lead approached 30 at multiple points throughout the second, but never got that high. Heading into the half, Whitko was up by 26.
The trend continued into the third. With Krull returning to the game, he resumed his role as the team’s main scorer, with Essegian doing well to compliment him with some tough work down low. Grable and Riley Harman did well in their roles as secondary point-getters, with Grable hitting his first two-pointer midway through the period to become the third Wildcat in double figures.
Harman would join the club with less than a minute to go in the period, hitting a midrange jumper to give him an even 10 points on the night. There were multiple points in the quarter in which Whitko’s lead grew to 33 or 34 points, bringing them ever closer to initiating the running clock. But each time, the Warriors would find a way to hit a shot that would bring it back down, but not by much. With just eight minutes to go, the Wildcats lead of 32 points felt extremely comfortable.
The fourth quarter began with Ethan Yates and Caden Deneve coming in and getting their first minutes of the game. Deneve would score the first three points of the period for the home side, finally getting the lead to 35 and putting the running clock into effect.
That would be the beginning of the end, as not long after, both teams filled the court with their bench players. A few starters remained in the contest, including point guard Jaylen Gibson, who drained his second three of the night after spending most of the game getting his guys involved. North Miami was able to make a few shots down the stretch to make the score a bit more respectable, but the result was never in question.
Krull led all scorers in the game with 20 points while adding six rebounds. Essegian finished with 17 points and a game-high seven rebounds. Grable added eleven points while Harman scored 10.
Whitko (12-3, 5-2 TRC) is on the road Saturday afternoon at Garrett.

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