The Trojans boys basketball team has been trying to rebuild for the past three years. The Trojans had a new coach last year, John Toomer and this will be his second year after a 3-19 record overall.
Toomer and the Trojans will have a tough year after losing nine seniors from a 12-man roster, but the coach remains upbeat.
“The big thing that we have not had here is consistency,” the coach said. “The kids don’t stay together long enough. The junior varsity group this year is the first group I have been involved in from eighth grade on up and they have always played together. So I think that is key.”
The team comes back with virtually every man new with the exception of Uriel Ramberg-Wiley, who is a senior this year. This year’s team started with 12 members and is down to seven for the time being due to grades.
“Not all the players can’t play due to grades. We have one injury. Nick Aberle came down hard on his thumb on another kid’s head. He will have an MRI soon,” Toomer said.
Toomer believes that Ramberg-Wiley will fit really well with them.
“He’s a good kid and he’s a good shooter. This year’s team is much more aligned with how he plays than the group from last year. I am looking for some good things,” Toomer said.
Along with the new players, Toomer has three new coaches. Former Beatty coach, Leo Verzilli returns to Pahrump and to coaching here after a three-year absence from Pahrump and will be the junior varsity coach. Verzilli teaches PE at J. G. Johnson Elementary School. Pat Williams joins the staff and he is the assistant varsity coach. Pat is a counselor with the school district and used to run a basketball camp with “Pistol Pete” Maravich, who played with three NBA teams in the 70s. Finally the B-team coach will be Doug Evans, who teaches honors English at the high school.
“Pat has been around basketball for a long time and I lean heavily on him. Leo will be the new JV coach and I tell him to reopen Archie’s all the time (Verzilli used to own Archie’s),” Toomer said.
In regards to the lack of height, Toomer said he will just play their game of basketball.
“If we get into a running match with the other teams we can’t out-run any of them,” he said. “We just will have to make sure we get great positioning for rebounding. If we don’t we are going to get blown out. It will be a lot of hard work. This group is ready for it.”
This year the Trojans will turn to Parker Hart and TJ Milk to take the ball up court.
“They are getting better and better all the time,” Toomer said. “For now it’s going to rotate whoever takes the ball up. We won’t truly have a true point guard. Parker will probably handle the ball 75 percent to 80 percent of the time.”
Milk has played basketball for seven years. He was on the junior varsity team last year. He thinks the team will be a lot smarter with the ball this year.
“I think our offense dictates the ball. We play at our own pace whether it’s fast or slow. We basically dictate the ball the best we can,” he said. “I think we are all really smart with the ball and a hard working group and we are all really unselfish.”
Hart has been playing the game since he was in kindergarten and first grade.
“I really don’t care what the record was last year,” he said. “This is a new year. I think we come in more confident this year. We will play smarter and I think our shooting is better.”
Hart said he will bring some good ball handling to the team and he is not a selfish player.
Danny Foss is one of the team’s big men. He is 6-foot-5 forward and one of the tallest players on the team.
“My goal is to work hard to improve for next year and I want to work harder as a team,” he said. “We also need to work harder on defense so, we will need to just play smarter than the other teams.”
The Trojans will rely on more than one shooter this year.
“Right now it’s between Nolan Toomer, Uriel (Ramberg-Wiley) and Danny Foss,” Toomer said. “So basically, they are our key shooters. Then TJ also has a good shot. He will need to be pretty wide open to take it and Parker has a good dribble drive.”
As far as defense, the coach said he will see if he will rely on man-to-man coverage or zone.
“If we don’t match up with a team, you can see us running a little zone this year. This group can run a zone better than last year’s group because they understand the fundamentals of man-to-man,” he said.
Like last year, the coach wants his team to play smart basketball and limit the turnovers.
“This team had their share of turnovers on the junior varsity team, but not nearly has much on the varsity level. So, we will see how they deal with the pressure. That will be key, how they handle that first-game pressure,” Toomer said.
The team traveled to Sunrise Mountain on Tuesday night, which was past deadline. Sunrise Mountain plays in the Sunrise League in Division I-A and was 0-1 overall coming into the game. The Miners lost on Monday to Coral Academy 73-44. After Sunrise in Las Vegas, the Trojans travel to Hawthorne from Dec. 4-6 for a tournament.
The Trojans have never won a state title in basketball. They have been to the state tourney four times, 2007, 2000, 1998 and 1997. Their last playoff appearance was in 2008.