Placer’s Sparks trip cut short

PVL Pipeline
By: Dave Krizman Journal Sports Columnist
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“This place is so nice. I didn’t want to leave,” stated Cody Riggs. Riggs, the starting junior point guard for the Placer High basketball team, summed up the feelings for the entire team as they left the Grand Sierra Hotel Casino after playing only one game at the RailHead City Tournament in Sparks, Nev. last weekend. For those of you who may have missed the story, the RailHead City Tournament in Sparks was cancelled after only one day because of concern for the safety of teams that would be traveling Saturday in the mountains as an unusually strong winter storm bore down on the Sierra Nevada. Clearly – pardon the pun – this was the proper weather related decision. Head coach Mark Lee and his staff along with the tournament sponsors placed the safety of the teams first. The National Weather Service advised travelers to stay out of the mountains on Saturday. Nevertheless, in my 32 years of teaching at Placer, this was the first time I had heard of a tournament being cancelled because of weather. Riggs, along with junior starting forward Alec Knox, offered an enlightening and amusing adolescent perspective of the weekend. Knox, too, was impressed with the Grand Sierra Hotel Casino. He mentioned how the hotel had an impressive arcade along with a first- class bowling alley. He, like his teammates, fans, and coaches, were in no hurry to leave this beautiful hotel. But, Friday morning when he awoke, “I saw about four inches of snow on the ground,” Knox said. “I was kind of in shock. But it was so pretty. We were told around 1 p.m., right after we had finished playing in a team bowling tournament, that the tournament had been cancelled. We left Reno at around 2 p.m.” Both players expressed their disappointment in not being able to play two more games that weekend as each expressed how much the team has improved since the start of the season. After an 0-3 start, Placer has won four of five games, with their only loss coming in the championship game in an Antelope High tournament. “I was kind of upset,” Riggs said. “We were on a winning streak. I wanted to get some more W’s. We have lots of young players but we are learning with each game and each practice. We were developing some good team chemistry.” Knox added, “We have learned how to play together since getting the football guys back. We have good hustle and some good talent.” For those of you who have raised teenagers, one knows that teenagers love to make fun of adult drivers for driving too slowly and too cautiously. Riggs and Knox could not help but poke fun at coaches Lee and (Dave) Thompson for their mountain driving skills. Laughing out loud, Riggs critiqued his two coaches. “It took us four to five hours to get home,” he said. “Both vans had to chain up and I think the coaches thought the snow was a big deal. They were both a little timid behind the wheel.” Knox, laughing, was a bit more succinct. “We’re going 25 mph and the big rigs are flying by us!” he said. “They were scared of the snow. All the players in the vans were laughing at the coaches, wondering what they were doing.” This vastly improved team and its “timid” coaches are a legitimate contender for the Kendall Arnett championship. The historic tournament begins Tuesday, Dec. 28 at Placer High.