The Reed, Spanish Springs and Sparks boys basketball teams enter 2017 with varying degrees of expectation.
Here are the storylines to watch for the Cougars, Raiders and Railroaders:
Spanish Springs Cougars: Can they get it done?
The goal for this team is pretty simple. Win the program’s first regional title.
That’s how talented this bunch is.
Josh Prizina and Korbin Marcum provide plenty of playmaking ability in the frontcourt. Marcus Loadholt, Jalen Townsell, Bryce DeLong and Justus Eaglesmith make up what may be the most dangerous backcourt in the 4A North.
All of the above players mentioned are seniors. Experience tends to pay off come tournament time in February.
The Cougars passed their first true regional test two weeks ago when they handled Galena at home, 58-42. They also went to Carson, the defending regional champ, and lowered the boom, 66-41.
The next big test looms on Jan. 6 at Bishop Manogue. Spanish Springs fell to the Miners early in December in the Wild West Shootout.
So, can they get it done? The talent is there.
Reed Raiders: Can they get in?
Reed is not going to compete for the regional title this winter.
However, the Raiders are in contention for what would likely be the fourth and final playoff spot in the High Desert League.
Spanish Springs, Reno and McQueen are likely out of reach, but if the Raiders can get past Hug and North Valleys, they’re in.
Reed played North Valleys last Wednesday and came up short in a tight contest, 59-54.
First-year coach Joe Genung knew he had his work cut out for him when he took the job in the offseason. He’s the third coach in as many years and has been handed the responsibility of creating culture where there currently isn’t one.
The Raiders weren’t going to come out swinging, although they did win their opener in thrilling fashion, 64-61 over Damonte.
Seniors Jeremy Ramos and Lincoln Turner, as well as sophomore Matt Williams, provide a solid foundation to build on. They can’t do it alone though. A couple other players need to become consistent, forcing opposing teams to remain honest.
Sparks Railroaders: What can Matt Longland do?
Coach Dan Schreiber knew lack of size would be an obstacle this season.
To counter, he planned to implement an incredibly fast tempo while using most of his bench to remain fresh. It’s yet to gain traction.
Sparks has stumbled to a 1-11 start. At just 0-3 in 3A North play, Sparks has plenty of time to get itself in contention for one of the region’s six playoff spots.
The most exciting player on the team, without a doubt, has been senior Matt Longland. Longland is well on his way to earning first-team all-league accolades, averaging nearly 15 points per game – six points more than the team’s second-leading scorer.
Longland accounted for nearly half his team’s offensive production in Thursday’s 49-41 loss to Hug, finishing with 19 points.
In a season that’s already growing gloomy, Longland is sure to be a bright spot.