Tolbert optimistic about young Senators |

Tolbert optimistic about young Senators


Nate Tolbert, Carson High’s first-year girls basketball coach, is facing a problem that at least two of the previous coaches have faced.Lack of size.Carson, which opens its season Tuesday at Reno, doesn’t have a player over 6 feet tall. It’s a problem that Todd Ackerman faced in his five-year stint as head coach. It made it hard to compete with teams like Bishop Manogue, Reed and Reno, who are the perennial Northern Nevada powerhouses.Because of that, Tolbert wants to play an up-tempo game which is natural when you lack height but have athletic, quick players.“We’d like to run more than we have in the past,” said Tolbert, who had worked as Ackerman’s top assistant before taking the helm. “We want to spread the floor more. We’re going to cut and slash more than we have in the past.“Reno is the first stop on a long journey. We’ll see what we can do. Manogue, next to us, is the best team in the league. I’m always going to think we’re the best team. I think this team is capable of winning the championship if they step up and play. I don’t see anybody out there we can’t beat.”Nice optimism, but it will be interesting to see if the Senators will be ready to roll when the first whistle blows. Tolbert said that several players are battling nagging injuries, but he expects everybody to play except Cameron Sievers (back injury).It’s not an easy task to take over a team with just four returnees — point guard Savannah Smith (5.0 ppg), forward Elena Thurman (1.0 ppg), Sievers (3.3 ppg) and forward Maddi Saarem (3.5 ppg) — and mesh with nine new players. All four are good athletes and multiple sport athletes.“Savannah’s confidence level is huge getting quality minutes last year,” Tolbert said. “She brings poise to the game. She’s at a point where she can help other players. She’s very athletic and runs the floor.“Good things happen when she gets to the glass. She’s such a threat offensively. She’s good at finding ways to score, and she has good body control.”Saarem has been forced to play inside because she is one of the tallest players on the team, but look for her more at the high post or wing.“I’m looking for her to take on more of a leadership role,” Tolbert said. “She’s not a natural post player. She is more of a guard. In our offense, she won’t have to post up all the time. I want to get her to the 10 to 15-foot range. That’s where she likes to shoot the ball from.”Thurman was probably Carson’s most aggressive player on defense last year, and Tolbert said that hasn’t changed.“If anything, she’s more aggressive,” Tolbert said. “She’s so athletic. She’s able to control her body.”Sievers is sturdy and despite being under 6-foot, she is probably the most natural post player.“She wants to get better, and she’s been working hard,” Tolbert said. “She has one of the best shooting forms on the team. She’s has 15-foot range and she can drive to the basket.”With the first game just a few days away, Carly Bachman will probably be the fifth starter.“I was looking for somebody that works hard and doesn’t give up,” Tolbert said. “She has a nice shot and works well within the team.”Tolbert is carrying three sophomores this year in Gina Peacock, Kayla Aikins and Madison Preston. Peacock and Aikins are up from the JV team, while Preston played freshman ball last year.“Preston will be the first or second off the bench,” Tolbert said. “She is fast and can knock 3-pointers down. I expect her to make a huge contribution. Kayla is as fast as Madison. She can come down and post up or step out and take a shot. Gina can bring the ball up and she can take it to the basket. We’ve been working on staying under control.”Point guard Natali Salas, Haley Ridgely, Abi Greene, Skye Simpson and Jasmin Flores round out the roster. Salas and Simpson are guards, while Ridgely and Greene will back up Sievers in the post.“Between Carly, Natali and Skye all three can bring the ball upcourt. Natali is a bulldog out there. She finds a way to get to the glass.“I want our 1, 2 and 3 spots (point guard, shooting guard and wing) to be able to bring the ball up the floor. We have to make sure they are capable of doing that and getting us into our offense. Last year we always depended on Emily (Collins) and Savannah to do that. We’ll platoon that this year.”Because of the height issue, expect the Senators to be a pressure defensive team.“I love to press,” Tolbert said. “If the other team has really good guard play they can start picking you apart. We have to pick our spots. We have to step up and attack, and we have to commit to that. If we only do it halfway we’re in trouble.”