Vikings like their chemistry |

Vikings like their chemistry

Jeremy Evans

Last year, the South Tahoe High boys’ basketball team got off to its best start in coach Derek Allister’s tenure with the Vikings. South Tahoe reeled off six straight wins, then saw its season come crashing down.

The Vikings finished 12-16 and missed the Northern 4A playoffs for the fifth straight season. But with several key returners back this season, South Tahoe already feels that last year is buried in the past.

“Last we just didn’t have a good group of guys,” said senior point guard Conor Freeman, who’s entering his third season on varsity. “We had seniors quit the team. This year, we have a good group of guys. This is the best team I’ve been on since I’ve been here.”

The Vikings return three starters in Freeman, four-year letterman Jared Wood and junior guard Reid Cocking. Freeman averaged 10.5 points per game as a junior before missing the last part of the season with a broken nose.

Wood has played in every varsity game during his high school career and was a second-team all-Northern 4A performer last year. He nearly averaged a double-double as junior (14.8 ppg, 9.8 rpg). Cocking rounds out a group of players that have played more than 135 games together in the past 18 months.

“Last year, we were a very good team at the beginning of the year, then it started to slip away,” said Allister, who has yet to qualify for the postseason at South Tahoe. “I don’t see that happening with this team. When I look in the huddle, I don’t see the issues that we had last season. But you never really know until you get tested. You never know how a group of kids are going to react until they have to handle adversity.”

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The Vikings won’t have to wait long to test themselves. They open the season tonight at 7 p.m. against Spanish Springs at STHS, then host the Rotary Viking Classic Thursday through Sunday.

“I think we’ll start off strong and get better throughout the year,” Freeman said. “We set our goals at practice and we want to try and go undefeated at home and then go on the road and beat the teams we should beat.”

Helping Freeman, Wood and Cocking are a host of players who were contributors on varsity last season. Included in this group are juniors K.J. Allister, an outside threat who played key minutes last year as a sophomore, and Michael Anstett.

Allister also expects several stars on last year’s junior varsity team to make immediate impacts for the Vikings. Vince Capellino, a 6-foot-4 sophomore, and senior Jeff Cabristante should have little problem adjusting to the varsity level.

“I expect Jeff and Vince to make solid campaigns this year,” coach Allister said. “They both should make significant contributions to our team this year. Jeff was a prolific scorer on the JV team. I think this is the best team I’ve had since I’ve been here.

“We’re not a real big team again, but we have numerous guys who are just good basketball players. We’re going to be a really good shooting team.”

Viking jumpers

Coach: Derek Allister, sixth year

Last year: 12-16, didn’t qualify Northern 4A playoffs

Key returners: Conor Freeman, Jared Wood

Key players lost: Casey Curcie, Dan Tinlin

Key newcomer: Vince Capellino, 6-4 sophomore.

First game: Tonight vs. Spanish Springs, 7 p.m.