No laugher for STHS with McQueen visiting for season opener
If it didn’t seem like there was much time between the end of South Tahoe High’s fall season and the start of basketball, imagine McQueen’s situation.
Eight members of the Lancers hoops squad, which starts the season at 7 p.m. Tuesday with a visit to South Tahoe, come from the state runner-up McQueen football squad, which just wrapped the season on Nov. 19. That means Lancers head coach Eric Swain will have to rely on athleticism to counter South Tahoe’s trademark execution and intense defense.
Even with that in mind, South Tahoe head coach Tom Orlich indicated he would rather open the season against another team. Without a game against real competition, Orlich said he doesn’t know how his Vikings are going to match up.
“It’s really difficult to say where we are, what we’re doing,” Orlich said. “At this point, it’s really to hard to tell, except for our practice.”
But it’s pretty clear the Vikings haven’t blown their coach away with their execution in practice.
“It’s going all right, nothing to get really excited about,” Orlich said.
South Tahoe isn’t taking McQueen lightly. Whether or not the Lancers have put in as much time as South Tahoe – which started practice Nov. 15 – the Vikings consider their visitors a dangerous team.
“I think they do have great athletes, and I think they are probably one of the most talented teams in the league,” Orlich said.
Swain isn’t downplaying his team’s talent. In fact, he’s counting on it to carry the Lancers until the players have enough time together to execute at a high level. McQueen may be able to match up with South Tahoe in the backcourt, where 5-10 junior point guard Chris Carr starts along with Karl Aaker, a 6-5 junior wing. Swain said both of his guards have the potential to be very good high school players.
“They want to be college players, so they’re working really hard,” Swain said.
Still, he rated his squad as “a little behind” in team play. While it gives the team a good foundation, Swain anticipates his team will take on a different complexion down the road when it starts executing.
“It’s not going to take us to a zone championship, but it helps to have that side,” Swain said. “You can build on athleticism.
“You can’t really will it,” he said. “You’ve just got to get the reps in in practice.”
Even though South Tahoe’s guards, Matt Williams and John Giannoni III, provide a stern test for the Lancers backcourt, where South Tahoe might have an even bigger advantage is in the frontcourt. Senior forwards Tim Sprinkles and Travis McCollum flank their classmate, 6-7 center Bob Larmore. Forwards John Sutherland, 6-5, and Matt White, 6-3, bring size to the front line, but Swain described the starting center’s spot as “up for grabs.”
“With our success in football at McQueen, we always get a late start,” he said.
Neither coach appears to expect a walkover. In fact, both paid compliments to the other’s program.
“It’s a great chance to play probably the premier program in the North, so it’ll probably be a big measuring stick for us,” Swain said.
“We’ve definitely got our hands full,” he said. “I’d rather be playing the best than playing some not-very-good team and beating them by 30 points. I don’t think you get a whole lot out of that.”
Orlich also indicated the game will be a tough matchup.
“They have a great point guard (in Carr), they have a great swingman in Aaker, and they have a really good front line as far as being physical,” Orlich said.
Orlich anticipates both teams will make more mistakes – turnovers and fouls – than normal in the first game.
“We have to execute well, and when it’s this early in the year sometimes that’s difficult,” Orlich said.
“We certianly are capable of it, because we have our own talents, but a lot of things we need to get done aren’t getting done at this point,” Orlich said.
But whatever happens, neither team will be 0-0 after Tuesday’s opener. Both coaches expect their teams to be different as they advance through the schedule.
“I think as the season progresses, everybody’s going to improve,” Orlich said. “I think that has to be expected.”
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