Lakers’ chosen two: Basile, McKenney named Sierra Sun Athletes of the Year |

Lakers’ chosen two: Basile, McKenney named Sierra Sun Athletes of the Year

Sun File photoSenior Michele Basile, shown in action this past soccer season, is the Sierra Sun's male Athlete of the Year from North Tahoe. Senior Heather McKenney is the Lakers' female Athlete of the Year.

Enrollment at North Tahoe High School may have waned in recent years, but the quality of its athletic department never seems to waver.

Year in and year out, a slew of Laker seniors establish themselves ” if they hadn’t already ” as standouts on their respective teams. Some do so in one sport, others in two or more.

When it comes down to selecting the Sierra Sun’s Athletes of the Year, the ones who excelled in two or more weigh most heavily in the decision-making process. It’s never an easy one.

But after analyzing the statistical evidence and picking the brains of Laker coaches and administrators, two senior athletes were settled upon ” Michele Basile and Heather McKenney.

Basile is a versatile three-sport athlete who thrives on competition, whether on a soccer field, basketball court or track.

“He’s an intelligent, intense competitor,” said North Tahoe track and field coach Warren Mills. “He’s a committed athlete.”

Perhaps the most impressive honors on Basile’s athletic resume are his All-League and All-State MVP soccer awards, which he earned for his solid goalkeeping this past season. Coaches awarded him to the highest honor among an incredibly talented pool of players, most of whom were Lakers or rival Wolverines from Truckee High.

Basile, a four-year varsity starter, recorded 11 shutouts during the 2007 season while also scoring five goals in limited action as a forward. He and Eric Holman were co-captains of the team.

“He’s very agile and has quick reflexes,” said North Tahoe soccer coach Beto Alcaraz, whose Lakers finished runner-up to Truckee in the state championship. “He’s always in the right place. He’s just an awesome goalkeeper.”

Those skills also earned Basile first team All-League honors his junior year, when the Lakers defeated Truckee for the state title.

On the North Tahoe basketball team, Basile was one of two returning seniors ” along with senior Brent Marple ” who helped guide the young Laker squad in its first season competing in the Northern 2A. The two guards were instrumental in leading the team, scoring many of the Lakers’ points while working tirelessly to get others involved.

A four-year runner and jumper for Mills, Basile helped lead the Lakers’ 4×400 relay team to a first-place finish at the Nevada 2A State Track and Field Championship on May 17. He also ran the third legs on the third-place 4×100 and 4×200 teams, and competed in high jump and long jump.

“He’s a very dedicated and deserving athlete,” Mills said.

McKenney also took on three sports her senior year ” cross country, snowboarding and track and field ” and she brought to each team her outgoing and infectious personality.

“She’s a really good athlete who put her heart into everything. She’s a team leader who brings spirit,” said Mills, who coached McKenney in cross country during the fall and track and field in the spring. “She was a big part of the teams. She helped create a team atmosphere as both a leader and cheerleader.”

During the winter, McKenney was a key piece of the Lakers’ CNISSF state champion snowboard team.

“She’s a really good team member,” said Mort Nyberg, head coach of the North Tahoe snowboard team. “She gave 110 percent effort and was always there to help other kids out on the team. She’s a good kid.”

Of the 23 members on the North Tahoe squad, nine individuals qualified to compete in the championship against a field of 123 racers from across California. McKenney earned 234 points for her team on the big day with 10th- and 18th-place finishes.

“She was really key,” to the team’s success, Nyberg said. “The girls had a small team, and they all had to do well to win (State). They had to perform, and she was up to the task.”

At the State Track and Field Championship earlier this month, McKenney finished fifth in 300-meter hurdles and was on the third-place 4×400 relay team. At regional zones, she was fourth in 300 hurdles and second on the Laker girls’ 4×400 team.

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