A shot at state | SierraSun.com

A shot at state

Photo by Ryan Salm/Sierra SunTruckee point guard Kelly Stephens works on her shooting in practice Monday.

The Lady Wolverines earned a shot at the postseason last year, then went two games and out. With a deeper, more polished team taking the court in 2005-’06, bowing out before the state title game is not a process Truckee wants to repeat.

“We want state this year more than anything,” said junior point guard Kelly Stephens, who ran the show as a sophomore last year. This year Stephens feels better about her chances. “I think we play as more of a team [than last year]. If we want it we’ll go out and get it, no matter who we’re playing.”

The depth of the Wolverines’ squad, with solid players down to the last one on the bench, is a luxury not every coach enjoys. But Truckee head coach Angelo Tenorio is not every coach.

“We’re really balanced. When we do make substitutions, it doesn’t hurt us at all,” Tenorio said, adding that every player scored in last week’s game against North Valleys. “[Opposing teams] can’t key on one individual.”

With everyone contributing, points are flowing for the Wolverines, who accumulated 63 of them against Hug last weekend. Besides having a number of sharp shooters who, as their coach expects, have been draining shots from outside, Tenorio attributes the high scoring to his team’s pressuring defense, which has created instant offense by way of forced turnovers and fast-break layups.

Senior small forward Erica Rice is one of the top shooters, and possibly has been more effective working without the ball, her coach said.

“Rice has been our defensive star. She has a lot of steals and has turned out to be one of our biggest rebounders,” Tenorio said.

In fact, against Spanish Springs last week Rice grabbed a Shaq-like 17 rebounds while playing her usual harassing defense ” the part of her game that she takes pride in.

“I’m a defense person,” Rice said. “That’s my forte.”

The same is true for the team.

“Our team strength is defense, basically,” Tenorio said. “We shoot well from outside, but we score more off fast breaks and steals.”

The coach said even that part of the game could use some fine-tuning.

“We still need to cut down on the turnovers,” Tenorio said. “We get going too fast sometimes on fast breaks. We need to not try to force the ball inside so much.”

The Wolverines are 6-3 on the season after playing in the Hug and North Valleys tournaments the last two weekends, where they faced several larger 4A schools. League play begins Wednesday against North Tahoe.

Truckee’s starting five is made up of senior forwards Amanda Thorsby and Rice, sophomore center Breanne Busby, Stephens on the point and Tenorio’s daughter, senior shooting guard Felicia Tenorio. The team’s bench play has been strong, Angelo Tenorio said, with sophomore Lindsay Holt, junior Nicole Panziera and senior Corina Mincey, among others, all making contributions.

With a quality 12-player roster, the team seems to have as much drive as it does depth.

“We’re picking it up in practices, working a lot harder than last year,” Thorsby said. “We made it so far last year, we’re really motivated to make it further this year.”

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