Sprinkles thriving in new role | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Sprinkles thriving in new role

He’s not hurt.

He’s not in coach Tom Orlich’s doghouse.

Fatigue isn’t finally catching up with Tim Sprinkles in his fourth year of playing three sports at South Tahoe High.

But seeing No. 43 start a Vikings game on the bench does take some getting used to.

For all but Sprinkles, that is.

“I’m fine with that,” he said. “Everyone out on that court has proven themselves to be a definite starter. I come in and provide a spark.

“I don’t look at it like I’m the second team or look at it any worse. I love this role now. We have six seniors out there who are all willing to work hard and are great basketball players.”

Sprinkles lost his starting position to another senior, Andy Butcher, before a Jan. 21 home game against Fallon. Orlich was looking to shake his Vikings out of funk after a one-sided defeat to Reno and a near-upset by division also-ran Wooster.

“It wasn’t that Tim was playing poorly,” Orlich said. “At the time, the team was struggling and it was something to give us a jolt. After watching a lot of film, it became apparent that Andy was playing really well and he deserved a chance to start.”

It’s not the first time that Orlich and his Vikings have prospered from a late-season starting lineup change. Mark Bisbee supplanted Doug Wilson prior to the Vikings winning zone in 1996 and Austin Price forced out Raul Carbajal before the Vikings’ state title run in 1992.

“With Tim coming off the bench, offensively he has really sparked us and defensively he certainly knows what has to be done,” Orlich said. “Add Chris Ortiz to the mix and we have a great rotation. We have the kind of chemistry you want going down the stretch.”

Fans might even see both Sprinkles and Butcher on the court simultaneously tonight when the Vikings oppose Valley of Las Vegas in the quarterfinals of the state tournament in Reno.

“They complement one another very well,” Orlich said. “There are situations where Tim is guarding someone like (Reno’s Alex) Gamboa or a small forward, and Andy can guard a small forward or power forward.”

A threat from top to bottom

In the past, Southern Nevada teams really have only worried about Northern Nevada’s top seed. That may not be the case when tournament play starts today in the Lawlor Events Center.

“This is the toughest four teams I’ve ever seen from top to bottom,” said Orlich, a 17-year veteran of the state tournament. “Now I’ve seen times where there’s one or two good ones, but never one, two, three, four, and really five, six and sevens who really could have been in and done really well.”

The North was swept in last year’s tournament, but Galena and South Tahoe provided the region with quarterfinal wins in the 1998 tournament. The North hasn’t won more than two quarterfinals in recent history, but the Vikings, Galena, McQueen and Reno should make a respectable representation today, according to Orlich.

“We might get swept again, and we might win one or two, you never know,” Orlich said. “I think all four teams are going to be very competitive because they have athletes, and they’ve been pushed.”

Late start means more prep time

The late starting time (8:10 p.m.) for today’s quarterfinal between Valley and South Tahoe will enable Vikings coach Tom Orlich extra preparation time before leaving for Reno.

The Vikings have scheduled a 9 a.m. practice at the school before leaving for Lawlor Events Center.

Even though the Vikings provided him with his ninth zone championship Saturday in Carson City, Orlich isn’t any more relaxed than usual before state.

“I’ve never felt comfortable going into state, knowing that all the teams you’re going to face can beat you,” he said. “Certainly I’m more confident than some years, because I know we have the capability of winning.

“I’m extremely proud of the way they’ve played all year. We’ve had 30-some games now, and we’ve come to play in every one of them. And I’m sure we’ll come to play again (tonight).”

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