At last: Wood finally in the playoffs |

At last: Wood finally in the playoffs

Of all the games Jared Wood started as a freshman in 2003, the one he remembers most was against Reno High School and its 7-foot McDonald’s All-American center David Padgett. It certainly wasn’t his best memory.

Padgett’s defensive assignment should’ve been South Tahoe’s 6-foot-8 center Curtis Johnson, but instead it was a 6-foot-2 teenager who was petrified about challenging one of the state’s best players.

“I was really nervous,” Wood said. “I was nervous the whole year, but playing against David Padgett really made me nervous. The fact that he was almost a foot taller than me was enough.”

As a result, Wood badly missed his first shot of the game and that was it.

“He got so tentative that he was scared to shoot again,” STHS coach Derek Allister said. “He was so despondent. Here he was a freshman being dared to shoot by one of the great players in Nevada history.”

Three years later, Padgett is the starting center for the University of Louisville and Wood is putting the finishing touches on an illustrious career at South Tahoe High School.

Wood is just one of a handful of players to be a four-year starter at a program that has won two state championships, starting in 1987, and has been to the playoffs 15 times during that span. Now a 6-foot-5 forward with college aspirations of his own, Wood leads South Tahoe into its first playoff game in five seasons when the Vikings play at Reed tonight in the first round of the Northern 4A Regional Tournament.

“I’m excited to play because it’s my first playoff game,” said Wood, who is averaging 15.8 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. “I was hoping it would be a lot sooner like my freshman year. And my junior year I thought we had a chance, too, but it should be fun this year.”

Allister also didn’t think it would take this long for Wood to qualify for the zone playoffs.

After all, he coached a team in 2003 that boasted the 6-foot-8 Johnson and 6-foot-4 Niko Klansek, two players that played college basketball. But like last year’s team, the 2003 squad suffered a late-season collapse.

Now with Wood and fellow seniors Conor Freeman and Joel Keegan providing more leadership, Allister said good things have come to those who wait.

“I think in particular Jared and Conor persevered through all those years and, to now be rewarded, I think it’s something they’re satisfied with,” Allister said. “The hard work paid off and the commitment paid off. That doesn’t always happen in life.”

Wood has increased his scoring average each season he’s been with the Vikings (15-11). He averaged about 4 points per game as a freshman, improved a few more points as a sophomore, then had a breakout junior year by averaging 14.8 points per game and 9.8 rebounds per game.

Although Wood was named to the Northern 4A’s all-region team in 2005, South Tahoe finished 10-12 overall and 2-10 in the Sierra Division. Missing the playoffs for a third time proved to be more painful than the pleasure of being recognized among Northern Nevada’s best.

“I’ve been playing a lot of games and I’ve been one of the main players since my sophomore year,” Wood said. “But it’s a big load off me knowing that I can do other things to help the team win and there are other guys who can help us win. Just getting rebounds and passing the ball is fine with me.”

Allister projects Wood as a small forward in college. Wood wants to take the junior college route, possibly playing for either Butte College or Cabrillo College, then transfer to a Division I school.

“I think if he continues to develop and get stronger, which he will, I think he could fit in a Big Sky (Conference) program,” said Allister, who coached at Division I Stephen F. Austin before taking over at STHS. “He’s closer to a small or power forward. He’d have difficulty in guarding an athletic shooting guard or small forward, but there would be some power forwards that would have a hard time guarding him on the perimeter.

“He’s kind of tweener and he’s got to find the program that will allow him to be that because he’s not going be a lock-down defender against an athletic player. But he would present tremendous problems just because of his ability to handle the ball, pass and shoot. His performances have been remarkably consistent.”

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