Truckee basketball | Boys not deterred by undersized roster | SierraSun.com

Truckee basketball | Boys not deterred by undersized roster

Sylas Wright
swright@sierrasun.com
Truckee guard Chase Vankirk is one of eight seniors on the Wolverines' roster.
Sylas Wright / Sierra Sun |

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Truckee will host a league makeup game against South Tahoe on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. The Wolverines then compete in the Rocklin Tournament from Thursday through Saturday and host Hug on Dec. 29 at 3 p.m. After Christmas break, the Wolverines travel to Fallon on Jan. 2 and host Lowry on Jan. 3.

One thing is certain about the 2014-15 Wolverines: They are not going to overwhelm anyone with their size.

So they had better dial in ever other aspect of their game, said second-year head coach Sky Nelson.

“We lack size. That’s going to be our biggest uphill battle,” said Nelson, whose tallest players are senior Ryan Schildge and sophomore Justin Wadsworth, both of whom are listed at 6 foot 2.

“We have a bunch of skinny little guys. So from my perspective, we need to be almost perfect to be good. We’re going to be up against a lot of bigger teams. I see us as sort of the underdog in every game we play. If we don’t block out, we’re dead.”

Despite their dearth of height and bulk, however, the Wolverines boast an athletic roster with speed and a solid team chemistry, led by a core of eight seniors. They lost just four seniors from last year’s team to graduation.

Versatile senior guard Nick Oberriter is the lone All-League selection from last season. At 6-1, he is among the Wolverines’ best rebounders along with Schildge, Wadsworth and 6-1 senior Teagan Pado, who is out with a sprained ankle but is expected to return after Christmas break.

Given Truckee’s disadvantage on the boards, Nelson hopes to get out and run. He has the personnel to do so, with speedy guards such as Oberriter, senior Chase Vankirk, junior Diego Abundiz — whom Nelson calls the best pure shooter on the team — as well as seniors Gavin Broad and Cam Hollabaugh, juniors Jenner Tresan and Kevin Cross, and senior Jake Lahr. Senior Matt Bush is listed as a forward, but at 6 foot would likely be a guard on a typical Division I-A team.

“I’m hoping that defensively we can get some steals, and we’ve been working a lot on getting the ball in quick and getting it down the court quick,” said Nelson, whose starting lineup varies. “And I’m hoping that some of the guys can make some plays in the open court. That’s part of basketball. It’s not just X’s and O’s, but also about making a play. I also hope to take advantage of the bonus. We want to get in the bonus quick and make our free throws.”

Another strength of the Wolverines is their ball-handling ability and improved outside shooting.

“The whole program has improved,” Nelson said. “Our fundamentals are a lot better than last year.”

Truckee is off to a 1-3 start, with its one win coming against North Tahoe and its three losses against McQueen, Colfax and Bear River. The Wolverines opened Northern Division I-A league play Tuesday night against South Tahoe (see Friday’s Sports & Outdoors for the result).

“One thing I don’t like is playing a league game before our preseason is even over,” Nelson said of Truckee’s schedule, which includes more than a week of down time before resuming after Christmas break. “We’ll try to work on that next year. It defeats the purpose of a preseason.”

As far as the Wolverines’ competitive Northern Division I-A, Nelson expects defending league champion Elko to be the team to beat once again, with Lowry close behind.

“I expect them to be real good,” Nelson said of the Indians, who lost to Clark in last year’s state championship. “They’re a much larger school than us, and they have an established program. Elko lost their biggest kid, but they were almost all sophomores and juniors last year, so they’re still a formidable team.”