Make room for Padgett |

Make room for Padgett

If you purchase a movie ticket to see “Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” on Friday night, then you won’t possess the hottest ticket in town.

Prep basketball returns to center stage Friday night when one of the top prospects in the country takes on an up-and-coming South Tahoe High squad.

Reno High’s David Padgett, who has already signed on to play for Roy Williams’ Kansas Jayhawks next year, makes his only visit to the South Shore for a key 7 p.m. Sierra Division boys’ game.

Naturally, STHS administrators are planning for the largest crowd in three years.

“We’re telling people to get to the game as early as possible because we have sold out in the past for games like this,” said STHS Athletic Director Don Borges. “There will be extra supervision because we know there is going to be a lot of people there.”

STHS’s blue gym has a seating capacity of approximately 1,500.

At 6-foot-11, Padgett has had his way in high school basketball regionally the past four years. But his stock has risen the past two years as he has taken on the best talent the rest of the nation offers.

In the Slam Dunk to the Shore in Delaware recently, Padgett was selected the tournament’s most valuable player as he outperformed two of the top-rated centers in the country. Going eye to eye with a 6-11 post player from Atlanta, Padgett poured in 29 points. Against an equally talented 6-10 center from Alabama, Padgett tossed in 25 points.

In his only Sierra Division game this season, Padgett outscored Douglas by himself, dropping in 34 points in the Huskies’ 61-28 trouncing of the Tigers last Friday.

“Padgett may be the greatest player in Nevada prep history,” said STHS coach Derek Allister. “He is an amazing player. He’s going to put up huge numbers; he’s going to rebound, block shots and everything.”

However, Padgett has yet to face STHS’s tower of power, Curtis Johnson. The 6-8 Johnson regularly posts double-double totals for rebounding and scoring and has accomplished the rare triple double by reaching double digits in blocked shots.

“I’m excited. I can’t wait to play him,” Johnson said. “I once faced some 6-9 guy but no one almost 7 feet who is very athletic and who can shoot all around.

“Hopefully everything I’ve been working on and working toward will come together on that night and that help me rise to the occasion.”

Their first meeting on Friday should be interesting since Padgett rarely goes head up with a center in Northern Nevada play.

“What better thing is there to do on Friday night. All the slopes will be closed down. You might as well come out and see two pretty good basketball players go head to head,” Allister said.

Padgett missed both games with the Vikings last year because of a knee injury. But Reno coach Pete Padgett, David’s father, came away from the division games impressed with Johnson.

“He’s a good player, a formidable player who obviously presents some problems for us,” coach Padgett said. “We like Tahoe’s team … they are an outstanding team. We don’t really focus on individual matchups.”

Padgett said the intense recruiting his son received over the past several years was extremely stressful.

“The whole recruiting process became very overwhelming for him. When all that transpired (with him signing with Kansas) in October, he felt like a weight of the world was lifted from him,” Padgett said.

Padgett averages 26 points and 14 rebounds per game, but his ability to alter and block shots on the defensive end make it difficult for opposing teams to get into any kind of offensive rhythm.

The Vikings haven’t experienced the Padgett factor since the 2000-01 season, so for many players this will be new challenge.

Coach Padgett remembers his last trip to South Lake Tahoe and the memory isn’t a pleasant one.

“They beat our brains in,” said coach Padgett of the 67-46 defeat. “I think South Tahoe was playing as well as anybody in the league at the end of last year, so we have a very, very difficult game Friday night.”

Coach Padgett’s concerns are now magnified because of the stellar game STHS’s Niko Klansek had against Wooster on Tuesday night. Klansek had a career-high 32 points, nine rebounds and three assists as the Vikings stunned Wooster 62-50.

The victory allowed the Vikings to even their division record at 1-1 and a win over Reno(1-0) would move STHS ahead of the Huskies in the Sierra Division standings.

“We were looking at 0-3 (if we didn’t beat Wooster), because we could play well against Reno and lose,” Allister said.

Tickets are $5 for adults, $3 for children and senior citizens 62 and over will be admitted free. Family and booster club passes will be honored. Because of the high volume of fans expected, students won’t be permitted to reenter the gym.

— Tribune Sports Editor Steve Yingling can be reached at (530) 542-8010 or

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