All-North, Division II teams peppered with Vikings
The South Tahoe High boys basketball team put an exclamation point on a promising 22-8 season as five Viking players were named to various Northern Nevada 4A division and regional teams.
Guards John Giannoni III and Josh David headlined the South Tahoe crew, both making the All-North and All-Division II first teams.
“Josh and John were both two of the better players in the league,” said Viking coach Tom Orlich, who led South Tahoe to its 17th straight state tournament appearance. The Vikes fell to Cheyenne, 63-52, in the event’s opening round Feb. 28. “In division and non-division play in the North we were 15-1, and they were big reasons for it.”
Giannoni and David were two of just seven players from the North’s 13 teams to make it onto the All-North squad. League coaches vote for the regional squads.
Giannoni, a transfer from Lodi, Calif., proved his worth in his first full season with South Tahoe. Listed at 5-foot-10, 160 pounds, Giannoni defies his height with an explosive combination of quickness, grace and basketball smarts. He routinely scored in double figures for the guard-oriented Vikes and became one of the team’s more accomplished man-to-man defenders. At times unstoppable off the dribble, Giannoni seemed to be able to get off his shot regardless of the competition.
“I thought that John progressed nicely throughout the year. There were games when he took over,” Orlich said. “He truly holds a lot of potential for being a great player. He’s one of the more dominating players in the conference.”
David, a 6-foot-3 senior, was a jack-of-all-trades for South Tahoe in 1998-99. A deft ball handler, David could switch gears at any moment and be just as comfortable in the post. The Vikings will likely miss his creativity and leadership, a fact that did not go unnoticed by Orlich.
“Josh was probably one of the most versatile players in the conference. He can play point guard, work in the post. He handles the ball well and he can rebound,” Orlich said. “He will be sorely missed.”
Junior Tim Sprinkles was an honorable mention selection to the all-North team, and found himself on the all-Division II second team. Seniors Matt Williams and Billy Doughty capped excellent high school hoops career with spots on the All-Division II honorable mention team.
The Vikings will lose seven players to graduation, including David, Doughty, Adam Williams and reserves Beau Barkley and Norman Cabanero. But the return of dependable juniors Giannoni, Sprinkles, Matt Williams and Bobby Larmore as possible starters should make South Tahoe a force in 4A play again next season.
“Any time you return the number of players we are, there’s reason for optimism,” Orlich said. “Specifically, when you win the conference title and dominate in division like we did.”
The last time the Vikes returned as many starters was 1991, when Jerod Haase and Brian Bruso led the team to a runner-up finish in the Nevada state tournament. With another year of experience under their belts, the Vikings followed with a state title win in 1992 and ended the season with a No. 19 national ranking.
“We’ve never had a team where we’re returning almost all the starters from the year before. Not since 1991,” said Orlich, owner of a pair of 4A state titles. “If we make big and vast improvement in the off-season, the sky’s the limit for us.”
South Tahoe might improve most from the return of junior forward Travis McCollum, who sat out the entire 1998-99 campaign with an injured knee. McCollum, a developed post player, rebounder and shot blocker, might be the inside ingredient the Vikings lacked during this year’s state tournament run. As a sophomore, McCollum earned all-Division II honorable mention honors for the 1997-98 season.
“Travis is going to really bolster the front line and give us leadership on and off the court,” Orlich said. “He brings a certain intensity to the team. There are lots of intangibles he brings to the game other than his ability to score, rebound and play defense.”
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