With several changes occurring in East Carbon, it's no wonder that the boys basketball team is finding it difficult to adjust to preseason competition.
This is the first year that the team will be coached by Jeff Cisneros. Not only is the team under a new coaching staff, but it's also the third coaching change the team has seen in the past five years. This makes it difficult for a team to conform to a specific playing method.
To add to the confusion on the court, the team only has nine players, two of which are seniors. Therefore, the Vikings lack size in numbers and most importantly, experience.
"It's like starting from scratch. Right now, we are working on the fundamentals of the game. For most of these kids, they have not had the chance to learn these skills and that makes it difficult to compete well against experienced teams," explained coach Cisneros.
Although the team is still working on improvements, they have already jumped into preseason competition.
This past weekend, the Vikings traveled to Salt Lake to compete in a two day tournament. The first opponent on East Carbon's list was the Manila Mustangs whom the Vikings faced Friday afternoon.
After a rough start, the Vikings found themselves trailing the Mustangs, 30-18 by the half. By the time that the third quarter of competition kicked off, the East Carbon team continued to struggle for control of the game.
The third quarter proved to be frustrating for the Vikings who was outscored by Manila, 23-3. By the time that the final buzzer sounded, the Vikings were handed their first loss of the tournament by the final score of 74-27.
The main problem the Vikings faced was scoring. Only four East Carbon players managed to post points on the board against Manila.
Leading the way in scoring for the Vikings was Tony McFarland who finished the game with 11 points. McFarland was followed in scoring by teammate Shane Wood who posted eight points while Josh Griffins finished with six points.
The following day, the East Carbon team faced fellow Region 18 team, the Tintic Miners. In this match up, the Vikings showed several signs of improvement which in Cisneros opinion, is quite a confidence booster for the team.
"Tintic is a talented team whom we face several times during the season. Because they are in our region, it was important to the players that they compete well against this team. Although we didn't get a win, we did play better than the night before," explained Cisneros.
Tintic opened up the game strong, but the Vikings stayed focused and trailed 9-2 by the end of the quarter.
The second quarter was a different story for East Carbon as they stepped up and outscored the Miners 12-1, thus leading to the Vikings lead at the half, 14-10.
The second half proved to be a back and fourth game for the two Region 18 teams as they battled for control of the score board. The final winner of the hardwood battle was Tintic who outscored the Vikings, 32-27.
"We're getting better each game and I think that the Tintic match up proved this. The team really held on tight and came close against the talented Tintic team. This was a bit of a confidence booster for us to come so close against a team in our division," commented Cisneros.
Once again, McFarland lead the team in scoring with 12 points. Wood followed with eight points, Tyson Davis completed the game with five and Andy Farlaino finished with two points.
Once again, the Vikings only had four players post points on the board. It has been determined that this is the biggest obstacle that the team faces. If the Vikes can improve on their shooting, the team will quickly become a stronger ball club.
At the conclusion of the tournament, it was determined by the coaches that McFarland had earned himself a spot on the all-tournament team roster for his strong performance.
The Vikings took a much needed two-days off and then it was back to competition.
East Carbon played on the road against Intermountain Christian Tuesday evening. Although the Vikings had improved during the second game of the Salt Lake tourney, the team failed to regain the upper hand during the match up against the Lions.
By the time that the half rolled around, the Vikes were behind, 44-8.
"We were just overmatched. Sure we're still learning, but it's still disappointing for the kids. We know that we'll get better as the year goes on, but we also know that we will get our fair share of bumps and bruises in the meantime," concluded Cisneros.
The Vikings will resume play Friday as they travel to Escalante. They will also compete in their first home game this year next Wednesday with the junior varsity scheduled to compete at 5:30 p.m. and varsity at 7 p.m.