Vikings plan on being in playoff hunt
By Steve Yingling
Tribune sports editor
With a season of “summer school” under their belts, the South Tahoe High Vikings could be cast as Northern Nevada’s most enigmatic team entering the 2004-05 season.
Will they become the first South Tahoe team since 2000 to make the playoffs or will the Vikings add to the school’s four straight losing seasons?
“I hope people come out and watch us. I think they’re going to be pleasantly surprised,” said fifth-year coach Derek Allister, who has a career record of 33-63 at STHS. “We’re an exciting group who plays the game hard.”
Most of South Tahoe’s roster, save several football players, participated in 57 summer games in California, Nevada, Washington and Oregon. As a result, the Vikings know each other as well off the court as they do on it.
“How long does it take to get from Spokane, Wash., to South Lake Tahoe? You sit in a van with a group of guys that long, you build some camaraderie,” Allister said. “That’s why we have a real chance to be good. These kids have put a lot of effort into this and hopefully it will pan out.”
Besides getting to know each other personally, the Vikings learned how to become cohesive on the court.
“The more you play, you get more used to playing and you get better,” said 6-foot-5 junior forward Jared Wood. “That was our main thing, to get better and improve upon last year.”
If work ethic and effort are the determining factors, then the Vikings could well accomplish the team’s goal of qualifying for the postseason.
“Last year we weren’t as good and teams are going to think, ‘Oh, South Tahoe, we’re going to blow by these guys really quick for an easy win,’ ” Wood said. “We have a way better team than I’ve seen us have in a long time. We’re not as talented, but we are a better team.”
Senior guard Conor Freeman believes fans will finally get a taste of what it was like when Tom Orlich’s teams packed the blue gym in the 1980s and 1990s.
“I think we’ll make the playoffs this year like Orlich’s teams,” said junior guard Conor Freeman. “Making the playoffs and second in the league would be good.”
Like last year’s team, the Vikings plan to play at an uptempo pace and emphasize their strength – perimeter shooting.
“There will be a night when we absolutely light this place up,” Allister said. “Mark my word, there will be a night when we’ll hit 15, 16, 18 threes in a game. We have four kids who have in varsity games hit six threes.”
Leading the bomb squad will be 6-2 senior Casey Curcie, who has taken his game to another level, according to Allister. Allister said Curcie has improved his passing, shooting and decision-making to the point that he’s a college prospect.
“He’s a lightning-quick guard who can score,” Allister said.
In a recent scrimmage with Sheldon, Curcie pumped in four three-pointers and a 16-foot jumper in a seven-possession span.
The Vikings will be young at the point, but that doesn’t concern their coach. Sophomore Reid Cocking gets his first varsity start in tonight’s opener against Damonte Ranch.
“Having Reid Cocking start at the point for us is just exciting. I know he’s going to be nervous and that’s OK,” Allister said.
Also providing perimeter experience are seniors Alex Urreaga, Mikey Van Gorden and Eric Domingo.
Woods will spend more time in the blocks than previous seasons and combined with the improvement of senior Daniel Tinlin, the Vikings should force opponents to respect their inside game.
“People are gonna be shocked how good Daniel is,” Allister said.
Allister has been coaching basketball for decades, but this season will provide a first: He’ll coach his son K.J., a 6-1 sophomore.
“It’s great to be with him on a daily basis,” Allister said. “He loves the game, he’s a smart player and he knows how to shoot it.”
More than anything, Allister wants to see the Vikings bring back some of the school’s rich basketball history.
“I’ve been talking it up on campus,” Allister said. “Hopefully we can get the students back like we had last year. Hopefully we’ll have a good environment and the kids will have some fun playing in here.”
Date Opponent Time
Today DAMONTE 7 p.m.
Thursday Viking Classic TBA
Friday Viking Classic TBA
Saturday Viking Classic TBA
Dec. 7 GALENA 7 p.m.
Dec. 9-11 Colfax tourney TBA
Dec. 14 At Sp. Springs 7 p.m
Dec. 15 MANOGUE 7 p.m.
Dec. 16-18 Folsom tourney TBA
Dec. 29 CORCORAN 7 p.m.
Jan. 4 At Reno 7 p.m.
Jan. 7 WOOSTER 7 p.m.
Jan. 11 At N. Valleys 7 p.m.
Jan. 14 At Douglas 7 p.m.
Jan. 15 CARSON 5 p.m
Jan. 21 HUG 7 p.m.
Jan. 25 RENO 7 p.m.
Jan. 28 At Wooster 7 p.m.
Feb. 1 DOUGLAS 7 p.m.
Feb. 4 AT CARSON 7 p.m.
Feb. 5 N. VALLEYS 5 p.m.
Feb. 8 At Hug 7 p.m.
Feb. 15-19 Regionals TBA
Feb. 24-26 State TBA