Diamond Valley back on court | RecordCourier.com

Diamond Valley back on court

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Members of the Diamond Valley Elementary School basketball team include, back row from left, Antonia Burtt, Alyssa Mortimer, Isaac John, Justin Vroom, Julius Cason, Carl Lundy, Isiah Driver; front row, Lauren Ellis, Ezra Galvez, Andrew Mortimer, Calvin Celio and Alex Clark.

Encores typically occur at musical performances, not basketball games. But this was hardly a typical season at Diamond Valley Elementary School in Alpine County.

After the fourth quarter buzzer rang to end a recent game at Diamond Valley, the spectators who filled the bleachers applauded. The Hawks had lost to a taller, more experienced Antelope Valley squad from Coleville, but family and community members who attended showed their appreciation of the return of basketball to the school after more than a two-decade hiatus.

A custom in games involving rural schools that have traveled a long distance is to play a fifth quarter. Scores in the fifth quarter are not recorded, however, the players get extra time on the court.

In the encore performance, Alyssa Mortimer sank three straight shots from beyond the 3-point arch, and the polite clapping from the crowd changed to ear-splitting cheers.

"Alyssa has good technique and when she's on the court, she's always smiling. That confidence helps her shooting accuracy," said Tim Parsons, who helped coach the team during the season.

The 12-member squad was made up of boys and girls who are in the fifth through eighth grades at Diamond Valley.

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The Hawks finished their season with a 1-3 record playing nonleague opponents.

The plan is for basketball to continue next year and to eventually join a conference, either the Northern Nevada Sagebrush League or the Tah-Neva League, which includes schools from Carson Valley, Carson City and around Lake Tahoe.

Superintendent Patrick Traynor said the goal of the school this year was simply to provide a safe and structured environment for students where they could learn and hone new skills, experience more teamwork, and feel good about themselves regardless of any scores. Traynor said Diamond Valley Elementary School's Principal Scott Smith was not concerned so much about league play this year and was instrumental in setting up a nonleague schedule.

Traynor said Diamond Valley, which has an enrollment of 80 students, is accepting applications for coaches to start volleyball as well as track and field programs this school year, too. The Hawks competed in cross country in the fall.

It was approximately 1990 when Diamond Valley last had a basketball team, according to school board member Clint Celio.

Alpine County Unified School District Business Manager Klaus Leitenbauer assembled and coached the basketball team. Just one of the players had experience playing organized basketball. However, there was one thing Leitenbauer was unable to do: He could not get the gym's old scoreboard to operate. A portable clock/scoreboard was purchased before the team's first home game this month against Bridgeport.

Referees arrived at the school more than an hour early because they said they had not previously been to the Woodfords campus and were unsure where to find it.

Alpine County, bordering Douglas County is the smallest California county and among the smallest in the nation.

"The referees wanted to start the game early but I asked them to wait until the scheduled time of 4:30 because that's when the parents were told when the game would start," Parsons said.

By tipoff, there was hardly a spare seat to be found.

"The support from the bleachers was tremendous, and the district very much wants to develop a basketball program here," Parsons said. "Klaus did an amazing job in getting this team organized. There are some good athletes at this school. Diamond Valley's basketball future looks bright."