Tough losses prime boys for league
By BAY KELLEY, Sierra Sun
The Tahoe-Truckee Wolverines’ one win, two loss performance at the Mesa Verda basketball tournament in Chico, Calif. this past Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday had no effect on Truckee’s chances of getting into the playoffs but may have had a profound effect on its psyche and work ethic, according to head coach Mike Gray.
The Wolverines jumped to an early lead in the first game of the tournament and ended up with a 64-54 win against Orland High School. In the following games, though, Truckee’s boys were subjected to a couple of tough defeats, losing 71-53 to the hosting Mesa Verda team and 64-40 to Marysville High School.
Mark Logan, star guard for the Wolverines, led the scoring in the first game with 26 points, contributing several to a 19-6 first quarter Truckee lead.
“We jumped out on them in the first quarter,” Gray said. “We need to do that more.”
Gray went on to explain that the Truckee squad has a tendency to relax on defense.
“I’m trying to instill a little piece of my own philosophy in the team,” Gray said. “You have to play hard every minute of the game. Good teams, when they get you down, aren’t going to let you up.”
Orland battled to within six points by the end of the second quarter but were unable to get any closer.
Other leading scorers for the Wolverines were Mark Thiel with 16 points, Peter Kennelly with eight points and David Larson with six points.
Mike McClendon, playing at point guard for the Wolverines, pulled down eight rebounds.
vs. Mesa Verda
Against Mesa Verda, Truckee was physically dominated.
The Wolverines were outscored in every quarter and were eventually frustrated by the Mesa Verda team.
“Our back court was getting very frustrated because of the defense they [Mesa Verda] were playing,” Gray said. “Mesa Verda is a really good ball team … a really physical ball team.”
Leading the Mesa Verda drive were its point guard and center, who contributed 25 and 24 points respectively.
Logan, named to the all-tournament team as he has been at every tournament in which the team has participated, contributed 28 points to lead the Wolverines’ effort, followed by Thiel with 11 and Mark McClendon who had eight points.
“I was watching them [Marysville] warm up and they didn’t look that good,” Gray said. “They were missing lay ups and I thought we had them licked, but, when the game started, they couldn’t miss a shot.
“That team taught us how to play basketball.”
The game against Marysville was defined by two factors, according to Gray. For one, Marysville played a very physical game. For two, the tournament was played with a 35-second shot clock, and Marysville used it very effectively, often putting Truckee on its collective heels. Marysville was quick getting the ball out of bounds and down the court before the Wolverines could fully set up their defense. Meanwhile, Truckee felt the pressure to shoot and would force shots to accommodate the clock.
Again, the opposing team had two players score more than 20 points. Matt Constantine had 28 points, knocking down five three pointers in the game. Jacob Wright had 21 points with two triples.
Truckee’s offense was successfully held at bay. Thiel led the Wolverines with 14 points. Logan had 11 points, Kennelly had eight and Larson finished with four points.
Truckee was held to 13 collective points in the second and third periods.
“I”m proud of the team,” Gray said. “They got really frustrated but they didn’t back down. They kept fighting until the end.”
Gray explained that the tournament was “a chance to get a different look. A chance to play against a different style of basketball.”
The Wolverines begin division play tomorrow night against the Battle Mountain Longhorns. Gray feels confident that his team has played a difficult enough schedule that it is prepared for any divisional games.
“We don’t take anyone lightly,” Gray said, “but judging by our practices after the tournament, we seem pretty focused. Still, I don’t underestimate anyone in the conference. That’s just the way basketball is.”
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