It's to be expected that the Carson High girls basketball team should go through some growing pains at the beginning of the season under first-year coach Ric Garcia.
So Garcia couldn't be blamed if he had some "cupcakes" on the schedule to begin the season. Instead, the Senators will play a demanding nonleague schedule that begins with possibly the High Desert League's top four teams in Galena, Reed, Fallon and McQueen.
Then it's off to two high-caliber tournaments in San Diego and at the Cap City Classic In Juneau, Ala., before wrapping up the nonleague schedule with another game against Fallon. Carson opens the year on Tuesday at Galena and will play its home opener on Dec. 6 against Reed.
"We might go into league play without a win," Garcia said. But don't mistake Garcia's early assessment for a lack of confidence in his team. By the time Sierra League play arrives, Garcia expects his team will be one to be reckoned with.
"We will be a much improved team at that point in time," he said. Garcia also said the lofty goal of being one of the two Northern 4A teams to advance to the NIAA 4A State Championships is a possibilty. "That would be a realistic goal I would think," Garcia said.
Garcia comes to Carson girls program with a successful coaching background in boys basketball. He built Dayton into a power in the 1990s, leading the Dust Devils to their first state tournament appearance and also served as an assistant coach to Tom Maurer at Galena when the Grizzlies won the Northern 4A crown.
So Garcia is trying to maintain perspective when talking about the progress of his Carson girls team.
"As you can see we've got a ways to go," said Garcia after Wednesday's practice. When asked how his team is progressing, Garcia said, "probably not as well as I would like to see at this point in time."
But Garcia noted everything his team is learning is new. "They're actually doing quite well," Garcia said. But Garcia said his team will need the entire nonleague season to learn his whole system.
"They tend to pick up things pretty quickly," said Garcia about his team, noting many of the players return from last year's club that won the state academic title.
Carson also has a deep 14-player roster with size, quickness and solid outside shooters. "We're actually pretty pleased with it," said Garcia about his roster.
With Garcia's style of play, there's a good chance that all 14 players will see plenty of action.
"If we do what I want to do, we're going to have to go 12-deep," Garcia said. "The more active you are on the court, the more you have to sub. Personally I think fast game is more fun."
Virtually all of Carson's players are versatile who can play more than one position. The Senators should be able to go big or small as the game demands.
Carson's roster features five seniors and two freshmen. Carson's two leaders should be 6-2 senior center Nicole Scott, who has signed with Division I Eastern Washington, and senior guard Rosella Nunez. Scott is recovering from a broken ankle she sustained during the volleyball season.
She is able to participate in many of the drills at practice, but hasn't been cleared to run. Garcia said Scott will not be able to play against Galena, but hopes she'll be able to play in the home opener against Reed.
Nunez should be the point guard. "She's potentially our best shooter out of the guards," Garcia said. "Rosella's the leader. She's probably our best ball handler."
Freshman Brandi Vega and Megan Kilty should battle to be the other starting guard. Two others who should be in the rotation at guard are Sarah Evans and Christy Works. 5-11 senior Sinead McSweeney and 5-6 junior Kaitlin Burroughs should be the starting forwards.
Garcia described Burroughs as a gym rat. "She just wants to get after it," Garcia said. "She can handle the ball. She can shoot the ball."
Carson's other freshman, Blaike King, who Garcia describes as another gym rat, should be in the rotation at forward. Other post players who should be in the rotation are two seniors, 6-0 Catherine Brekken and 5-10 Briana Dodge. Garcia said Brekken will back up Scott and could be on the floor at the same time as Scott and that Dodge can play forward or center.
Carson's deep and talented group of forwards also includes Anna Macquarie, Hannah Works and Abby Rankl.
Garcia also credited his two assistant coaches, Wayne Nash and Ron Tamori with helping to make his transition smoother.
SCHLANGE TO BE BUSY
Carson High shortstop Kevin Schlange will be busy playing baseball in December and January as he was selected from players from across the nation to play in two prestigious events.
Schlange has been chosen to play with an 18-and-under team sponsored by the Cincinnati Reds, who will be traveling to Australia in December. Schlange has also been chosen to play in the Puma USA All-American Tournament to be held Jan. 13-15 in Tucson, Ariz.
Carson outfielder Royal Good has also been chosen for the Puma event that will be attended by Major League scouts and college coaches.