Carson comes to town for Sierra League openers |

Carson comes to town for Sierra League openers

Steve Yingling / Tahoe Daily TribuneSouth Tahoe High junior Kory DiGrande pulls up for a jump shot against Incline during a nonleague game last week.

Ready or not, the Sierra Division basketball season suddenly opens on Tuesday night in South Lake Tahoe.

South Tahoe High will play host to the Carson boys’ and girls’ varsity teams in the Vikings’ Blue Gym.

While some teams are approaching 10 games played in the preseason, the South Tahoe girls only have four games under their belts. The Vikings have beaten Spanish Springs and Truckee and suffered a one-sided defeat to Reno and a double-digit defeat to Spring Creek.

Carson brings a 4-2 won-loss record to the opener, and the teams have played one common opponent – Spanish Springs – in the preseason. The Vikings defeated Spanish Springs 55-52 in triple overtime to open their season, and Carson lost to the Cougars 46-41 on Friday.

“They usually play a 2-3 zone, so we’ll be working on our zone offense,” said Carson coach Todd Ackerman, whose Senators lost their final preleague game to McQueen 61-54 on Saturday. “McQueen ran a 1-3-1, and we haven’t seen that much. We see more man than anything else. I’m frustrated that we didn’t recognize things as the game went on.”

The Vikings (2-1) will be without four-year varsity player Cassandra Diaz, one of the team’s most experienced players. Diaz injured her knee during a victory against Truckee on Friday at the High Sierra Winter Classic at Spanish Springs High School in Sparks.

STHS coach Chris Holmes is uncertain about the severity of Diaz’s injury and said that his senior guard will need a MRI to determine the extent of her knee damage.

Junior Mel Sabac will likely slotted into Diaz’s spot in the starting lineup.

“Mel got a lot of good minutes under her belt on Saturday, and she’s starting to step up,” Holmes said. “We have a rotation of seven or eight girls, so we’re trying to keep everybody fresh.”

The Vikings also played without senior Alexis Nunes-Fenley and Tori Lenstrom in a 53-38 defeat to Spring Creek on Saturday.

“We only had seven girls,” said Holmes, whose three missing players were taking their SATs. “We didn’t have enough gas and size.”

Holmes was pleased that Terra Backinger started to find her shooting stroke against the Spartans. Backinger made three shots beyond the three-point arc and finished with a team-high 15 points.

“You need as many weapons as you can get,” Holmes said. “We’re psyched up and ready to go for Carson.”

Senior Alexis Holmes scored in double figures for the fourth straight game, tallying 12 points.

The varsity boys’ matchup between the Vikings and Senators should be interesting since both teams don’t feature much size. The Carson roster doesn’t include a player taller than 6-foot-3, and the Vikings’ tallest player, 6-6 Wade Norberg, is a reserve.

Both teams will need to focus on boxing out to limit the other from getting second and third shots. South Tahoe has struggled with that facet of the game, even though the Vikings primarily play man-to-man defense.

Carson (3-1) participated in the Viking Classic but didn’t meet during the three-day tournament. However, each team lost to Lodi – Carson fell 45-35 and South Tahoe was outlasted 39-35.

Carson already has two wins in South Tahoe’s gym this month, having beaten Bear River and Soquel in the Viking Classic. The Senators won at Reed 59-54 last Tuesday, using their defensive pressure and rebounding to secure the win.

“Going into games, we always focus on the inside and work out and tonight finally in the fourth quarter (we) decided to stop the shooting and make them hurt us inside, which I don’t say that very often,” said Carson coach Bruce Barnes of his team’s ability to take away the perimeter shot against Reed.

South Tahoe (2-4) lost twice at home last week, falling to Incline (63-55) and North Valleys (60-42). The Vikings struggled with offensive consistency in both losses.

Weather permitting, the girls’ varsity game is set for 5:15 p.m., with the boys to follow at 7 p.m.

The Vikings will host their second league games Thursday when Wooster visits.

“Both games this week are huge starting league and getting things rolling,” coach Holmes said. “If we can win this week, that will lift our confidence and we’re going to be fine. I know we’re going to be competitive. We’ll have to play smart, keep our bigs out of foul trouble and run the floor, which is what we do best.”

– The Nevada Appeal contributed to this story.

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