Connelly, Ortiz make Sierra’s second team |

Connelly, Ortiz make Sierra’s second team

Matt O'Neill

For a team in such transition and uncertainty at the beginning of the season, the three all-league selections for the South Tahoe High boys basketball team was a credit to the hard work of both the coaching staff and the players.

Seniors Chris Ortiz and Matt Connelly were named to the Sierra Division second team, while Clint Joaquin was given honorable mention.

“I’m really pleased with those kids,” Viking coach Derek Allister said. “Only Chris had seen any playing time and there was an unproven quality about most of them.”

Coupled with the lack of experience for the Vikings was the fact that Allister was taking over a program that had been guided for 25 years by Tom Orlich.

Allister didn’t have the luxury of teaching his players the new system during the summer.

As it was, the team picked up Allister’s system and played their hearts out for the new coach. Although the Vikings didn’t make the playoffs, it wasn’t from a lack of hustle.

“I don’t think anyone can question their heart,” Allister said. “But if we had the extra time the other schools had we could have made the playoffs.”

Joaquin had some adversity of his own at the beginning of the season. The senior guard sprained his ankle and never really recovered.

His contributions, however, were important, even if they didn’t always appear in the box score.

“With the all-league meetings we go in and discuss who should make it,” Allister said. “I felt that Clint was the key for us. If he hadn’t suffered the sprained ankle, he would have made it a little higher.”

While Joaquin had to overcome early injuries, Ortiz had to adjust his game to a new position.

After being a scorer and a player in the low block, Ortiz was moved to point guard and ran the offense for Connelly and the shooters.

“I was really happy with the way he played because Matt was the marquee player who did the scoring,” Allister said. “Chris sacrificed his game for the team when he was known as a shooter and someone who would come in and shoot.

“He shouldered a lot of responsibility.”

As for Connelly, he thrived in the role of being the go-to player and earned his spot among the league’s best.

“Matt did a great job of being the scorer for us,” Allister said. “None of them had any experience and they all did great.”

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