Viking senior a straight shooter |

Viking senior a straight shooter

David Gignilliat, Tribune Staff Writer

If the South Tahoe High boys basketball team needs a clutch shot in the final seconds of today’s state tournament game against Cheyenne, don’t be surprised if coach Tom Orlich turns to guard Matt Williams for a game breaker down the stretch.

“If Coach calls my number, I’ll be ready,” said Williams, one of the Vikings’ regular starters on a young team that has posted a 22-7 record and has a legitimate shot at the Nevada state title. “I’ll want to be the guy. I’ll want to take the shot.”

Williams, a junior, has been a dependable player for the Vikings throughout the 1998-99 season. He is a frequent – though often unsung – scorer for the guard-oriented Vikes and brings a great deal of versatility onto the court.

“Matt is a pretty darn good defensive player. He can do a lot of things well,” Orlich said. “He can play the point. He’s a good passer and he’s demonstrated this season that he can penetrate and shoot the perimeter shot.”

Williams will have a tough job today against the Desert Shields: He is scheduled to defend Cheyenne’s Larry Graves, a dynamic player that is part of one of the best trio of guards in the state.

Williams is a fairly quiet athlete and does not brag, taunt or boast during games. He is fundamentally sound, a solid man-to-man defender and often a versatile assassin from the perimeter. He shows great deference to the South Tahoe team concept and is both aware and respectful of the Vikings’ steeped tradition and his place within it. Asked questions about his individual accomplishments, Williams almost always finds his way back to a four-letter word: t-e-a-m.

“Our team is pretty close. We’re almost like a family,” said Williams, known as ‘Mafiliams’ among teammates. Matt’s middle name is Phillip, which explains his hybrid nickname, kind of. “There’s no bickering with these guys. I think it helps us play better.”

Williams put in one of his best performances of the season in the zone tournament’s opening round against Elko. Williams scored 19 points in a 90-54 blowout of the visiting Indians, using a blend of opportunistic defense and patient shot selection to register an excellent all-around game.

A shooter by trade, Williams respects the capricious nature of his art.

“You try to get hot in practice and in warm-ups and take that into the game,” he said. “I don’t really try to think of anything when I shoot the ball, except that it’s going in. Anything else (and) you’re going to miss.”

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