It’s a new era for Oasis Academy basketball.
The Bighorns boys basketball team starts its inaugural season with the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association next week. Oasis will be playing against smaller schools from all across Northern Nevada, including Reno, Carson City, Gabbs and Silver Springs.
The varsity team consists of freshman Ryan Jones; juniors Kenyen Hicks, Caden Johnson, Joel Mincer, Patrick Morrow and Brenden Norman-Leary; and seniors Joshua Mikulak and David Springfield. Mikulak and Springfield also will serve as co-captains of the team.
The Bighorns are being coached by first-time coach Donald Schank, who is assisted by Carie Gantt, Brandon Barns-Turner and Jacob Lewis.
Oasis also will be fielding a full junior varsity team of eight players, coached by Gantt.
Counting the JV team there are 16 players for Oasis’s winter season. Schank said there were originally about 20, but some people had to drop out after tryouts.
Heading into last weekend’s scrimmage against Whittell High School, Schank said it would be a good chance to see how the team looks and get some film of them playing to review and see where improvements need to be made.
Afterward, he said they learned a lot from the scrimmages. Schank said the keys to their success would be rebounding, transition defense and taking care of the ball.
Oasis has its first official match next week. They travel to Carson City on Tuesday to take on the Sierra Lutheran Falcons, starting at 7:30 p.m.
Schank noted they played the Carson team during the Whittell scrimmages. He said Sierra Lutheran is a tall, fast team and stopping their transitions and rebounds would be key.
Schank said he’s hopeful for the season.
He said the Bighorns are going in relatively blind, having no real experience with the league’s teams. He noted a team’s first season can be rough, but added that with hard work they can find success.
“These kids are great,” Schank said. “They’re a good bunch of kids; they work hard, they’re eager to learn. When you’re willing to get up at 6 in the morning and come practice till 8, that’s dedication.”
While Oasis Academy is officially recognized by the NIAA, they will not be able to participate in playoffs in the 2017-18 or 2018-19 seasons. This is standard for all teams joining the NIAA; the Bighorns are also responsible for scheduling their own games for at least the first year.
“Hopefully after this year we won’t be,” Schank said. “Hopefully next year we’ll be added to their schedule.”
Schank said he’s excited for the opportunity to be head coach. He recalled he’s been coaching for about 22 years, but was always either a JV coach or an assistant. He said it was always his dream to run his own squad, though, and he’s happy to finally have the opportunity.
Dusty Casey, athletics director at Oasis Academy, said he and the administration “could not be happier” to have Schank for their boys’ basketball program. Casey said Schank is an outstanding coach and a role model for the students who has also begun working with the younger students.
“Coach Schank has already taken an active approach to our boys’ program as a whole, working with grades 4-12 to begin building a foundation for immediate and future success,” Casey said.