Truckee boys look to capitalize on last year’s surprise success
With a new head coach and a junior leading the team, is it realistic to expect the Tahoe-Truckee High School boys’ basketball team to repeat last year’s double-overtime state championship title win?
It is when that head coach has more than 20 years of varsity basketball coaching experience and the junior is 6’4″ 190-pound Mark Logan, who played on the championship team last year.
“It’s an ideal goal and we want to repeat. That’s what we’re striving for,” said recently named head coach and TTHS Principal Dennis LeBlanc. “Last year, their overall record was not that good -close to .500 -but they got hot at the right time. Of course, that’s not to take away anything from coach Flohr or the kids.”
Former coach Mike Flohr left Truckee for a job in Napa, Calif., after coaching only one year at Truckee.
LeBlanc said he stepped in because he knew it would be difficult for a new coach to follow a state championship season. (See related story below).
The new coach has laid out a simple plan for the team: “To me, the important thing has always been to win your league,” LeBlanc said. “When you do that, you put yourself into a position to go further.”
Included in this year’s squad are seven seniors and six juniors, among whom Logan, Tom Hernandez and Taylor Greene look to be leaders.
“We have a number of good athletes surrounding Logan,” LeBlanc said.
Logan will be spread out in various positions, including post, wing and guard.
“One of the obligations I feel toward Mark is that if he does eventually move up to a higher level, he’ll probably be an off-guard, so I want to give him some time handling the ball, but the team obviously comes first,” LeBlanc said.
Logan is comfortable with his position as a team leader.
“I know Tommy and Taylor and I will be doing a lot this year,” Logan said. “But I’ve got a lot to learn. You can never know too much.”
Logan said he relishes the chance to play outside more this year so he can show people that he can handle a position like guard.
Other junior starters include Andy Bergstrom at post and wing and Mark Thiel at post.
Seniors include: Cody Haas at point guard, Greene at wing, Hernandez at point guard, Nick Franklin at post, Robbie McClendon at wing and off guard, Paul DeCarlo at wing and Derrick Newman at post.
LeBlanc said the Wolverines will employ more of a man-to-man defensive coverage, but said, “we won’t be one-dimensional.”
Team strengths include being physically strong and a possessing a good work ethic, but LeBlanc warns the physical aspect of Truckee could lead to foul troubles early on.
Areas of concern include the fact soccer and football, sports from which most of the current players have come, just ended, leading to a slow start for basketball practice.
“The tradition at Truckee has been that basketball starts slowly because of soccer and football going to playoffs,” LeBlanc said. “We’re certainly not where we want to be at this point.”
But staring down a tough schedule, which officially started Monday night with a game against Dayton, Truckee will get a baptism by fire early and often. LeBlanc said December brings as many games for Truckee as it does practices.
But to Truckee’s advantage, many of the successful teams within Division 1 were senior-heavy last year and will be rebuilding this year.
“If they play together as a team and hustle as hard as they did in scrimmage last week I think we can play with a lot of these schools.”
The tougher schools to which LeBlanc refers include Spring Creek and Fernley.
Asked whether he thought the Wolverines could once again claim a state title, Logan said, “Definitely. What we have to do is work hard, not be overconfident and play together as a team.”
After all, as he learned last year, “expect the unexpected because you never know what can happen.”
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The Truckee girls’ soccer team remains undefeated, picking up a 5-0 win at home Saturday against Churchill County.