Capital Classic tips off today |

Capital Classic tips off today

Dave Price

An impressive field of eight teams will be on hand today when Carson High School’s 23rd annual Lions International/Nevada Appeal Capital Classic tips off.

California and Northern Nevada will once again be represented during the three-day tournament, which continues through Wednesday at Carson High’s Morse Burley Gymnasium. The event traditionally showcases quality talent and this week should be no exception. If nothing else, it may be elevated.

“Some great teams have been to this tournament in the past,” said Carson coach and tournament director Tom Andreasen. “We’ve had some great tournaments, and this one should be right up there.”

Today’s opening-round schedule begins with a 3 p.m. matchup between Reed and John F. Kennedy (Sacramento). Newport Harbor (Newport Beach, Calif.) takes the floor against Reno at 4:30, Amador Valley (Pleasanton, Calif.) plays Sparks at 6 and the host-Carson Senators take on Spring Creek at 7:30.

“It looks like a pretty good tournament, probably the best one they’ve had in a while,” said Reno coach Pete Padgett, who coached at Carson between 1977 and ’95. “Anytime you play teams from California it’s interesting. They always have good athletes and it always gives your team a different look.”

So who’s the team to beat this week? Start with Amador Valley (Pleasanton, Calif.), Kennedy and Newport Harbor (Newport Beach, Calif.).

n Kennedy won once at last year’s Classic, but is loaded right now. The Cougars were 11-0 and ranked No. 3 in the Sacramento Bee prep poll last week after defeating No. 6 Oak Ridge, 65-54.

n Amador Valley is 7-2 and has been impressive on its way to playing in the finals of the Northgate tournament and semifinals of its own Amador Basketball Classic. The Dons led by 11 points in the fourth quarter before losing to undefeated Grant – ranked No. 1 in Sacramento – in the semifinals of their own Amador Classic. The next night, the Dons beat Manuel Arts (Los Angeles) on Tyler Morley’s free throw with no time remaining. Forward Trevor Varley scored 25 points in the Grant game.

“I know Don (coach Don Underwood) and he’s always got a good team,” Padgett said.

n Newport Harbor improved its record to 8-4 last week with an easy 84-56 non-league triumph against El Modena. Aaron Yarnal scored 16 points in a winning performance for the Sailors.

“You know anybody from Orange County is going to be good,” Padgett said. “I invited them up in the early ’80s and they’ve always had a lot of good athletes. J.T. Snow came up with them one year.”

The four Northern 4A conference entries are not teams to overlook, either, according to Andreasen. Reed defeated Reno in last year’s Capital Classic championship game, 61-40.

“Reno’s playing well and so are Reed and Sparks,” he said. “Sparks is a very athletic team.”

Padgett’s 8-3 Reno Huskies are 8-3, with two of those losses coming in tournament championship games against high-powered California opponents – Jesuit at the tournament and to De La Salle at the De La Salle tournament.

“We’ve played a real good schedule. De La Salle is ranked No. 1 in Northern California and Jesuit is No. 3, so we’re happy where we’re at,” Padgett said.

Alex Gamboa and David Woods, both returning all-conference performers, are currently Reno’s leading scorers. The Huskies also start 6-9 freshman center David Padgett.

Carson is 6-5 and coming off a fifth-place finish last week at the Nugget Rail City Classic in Sparks. The Senators closed out the four-day tournament with an 81-60 victory against Bishop, Calif. The 81 points was a season high for the team.

“We played well,” Andreasen said. “We’re playing right about where I expected we’d be at this time.”

Tonight, the Senators face a Spring Creek team that defeated Yerington 81-61 on Dec. 18, behind Sterling Billat’s 33 points. The Spartans are led by Jason Checketts, who is averaging 18.4 points per game.

“We still have a ways to go. We’re not really going to be ready until next week,” Andreasen said, referring to the start of the Northern 4A regular season. “That’s when the season starts in earnest.”