North Tahoe basketball preview | Laker girls eyeing postseason berth | SierraSun.com

North Tahoe basketball preview | Laker girls eyeing postseason berth

Sylas Wright
Sierra Sun

Sylas Wright / Sun File PhotoSamantha Jeffers battles for a rebound during a game last season. Jeffers is one of North Tahoe's top scoring threats and one of three returning starting seniors on the Lakers squad.

If there’s one thing the Lakers are not, it’s one-dimensional.

and#8220;We have a lot of team speed, but now we also have some height, which allows us to compete inside. So we can play both ways,and#8221; said second-year girls’ basketball coach Rick Buhler.

Buhler could not say the same in his first season at the helm, as the North Tahoe team struggled with a lack of height across the board and limited numbers that dwindled from 10 players to just six by season’s end.

This year is a different story. The 2011-12 Lakers boast a full roster of 14 players, including four newcomers who stand 5-9 or taller. Freshman Sage Chador leads the way in the height department, at 6 foot.

The increased size and sheer number of bodies are welcome additions, to say the least, Buhler said.

and#8220;It’s quite a gift. We finished with six (players) last year. Now we’re able to scrimmage every day in practice and put in the things we weren’t able to before. It’s a major improvement,and#8221; the coach said. and#8220;And the nice thing is all the kids have bought into the hard work, so they’re also in far better shape.and#8221;

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The Lakers already have one game under their belt and#8212; a narrow, 41-37 nonleague loss at Loyalton on Wednesday. It was a game Buhler thought North Tahoe should have won, and a game the Lakers lost by 12 points a year ago to open their season.

and#8220;We never should have lost that game. It was close the whole way,and#8221; Buhler said of Wednesday’s contest. and#8220;They (Loyalton) got a couple of low post offensive rebounds late, and that was the difference. We were disappointed with the loss but excited about how we played.and#8221;

The Lakers’ starting lineup remains similar to last year’s, except with first-year varsity player Taylor Briggs, a 5-10 sophomore post player, inserted in the mix, and with the rest of the starters playing with more confidence and ability than ever before, Buhler said.

Starting against Loyalton were junior point guard Elizabeth Buhler, senior guards Irene Rojas and Mago Olivares, senior post Samantha Jeffers, and Briggs. Buhler expects all of them to contribute considerably this year, as well as a number of girls off the bench.

and#8220;We should get our points from a combination of our posts and guards, and from running the floor. I rotated in at least five girls (Wednesday) night, and for the most part, the girls who got an opportunity played well. I didn’t have that luxury last year,and#8221; Buhler said.

Chador, the 6-foot freshman, played particularly well in the Lakers’ opener, Buhler said, while Jeffers, who’s one of three team captains along with Rojas and Olivares, scored a team-high 17 points to lead North Tahoe.

and#8220;I expect Sam (Jeffers) to have a good senior year,and#8221; Buhler said, adding that the skilled, 5-foot-9 post player improved her footwork and shooting touch around the basket during the offseason. The coach said he expects Jeffers to score 15-plus points a night.

Aside from the starting five, North Tahoe’s roster includes six freshmen, Krista Conn, Savannah App, Jennay Argiris, Bridget Shroepher, Sara Trimm and Chador, as well as sophomore Angela Wood and seniors Tannyr Pasvantis and Karla Granados.

With such a deep bench filled with capable performers, Buhler is confident the Lakers can hand with the larger schools in the 2A/3A-mixed Mount Rose League while making some noise in the Northern 2A Regional Tournament en route to a state title berth.

and#8220;In league, I think we’ll be way more competitive. Our goal is to win league, which is a mighty goal, but we also hope to make zones and compete for a state title,and#8221; Buhler said. and#8220;I don’t foresee that being too far out of reach if we continue to improve like we have.and#8221;