When it came to who would lead Pyramid Lake this year, John Barlese was somewhat of an afterthought before the season started. And that was on his own team.
Just a junior with limited varsity experience when the season began, Barlese admitted to being skeptical about the prospect himself. But he blossomed quickly to lead the Lakers to their first winning campaign in five seasons. Pyramid Lake also won the Division IV West league title.
"He worked all summer and then we said, 'OK, we have an outside shooter,'" older brother and coach Louis Barlese said. "He gave me a lot more than we were anticipating.
"John was the one person other teams had to watch for because he could shoot. If you let him shoot, he'd shoot the lights out. A lot of our game plan revolved around him."
John averaged 23.7 points per game and is the 2012-13 RGJ All-North Division IV Player of the Year.
"I didn't think I'd be scoring as much as I did," the 5-foot-6 Barlese said. "I was scared at the beginning of the season. 'How are we going to do? Is it going to be a bad season again?' Then we started winning, and I started feeling good."
With his other older brother, Richard, running the point, John was left to focus on scoring. Early on, that meant jump shooting and 3-pointers. But defenses caught on quickly.
"I had to start reading the double-team and find open teammates or other ways to shoot," said John, who also averaged 4.6 rebounds, 3.7 steals and 3.2 assists.
"He started driving to the hoop and getting layups," Louis said. "His 3-pointers dropped but it wasn't because he was shooting bad. He was getting more layups because that's what the defense was giving him.
"This year, we worked a lot on curling and flaring off screens and shooting. Next year, it will be more off the pick and roll. He'll have to figure it out. It's a whole different game plan for him next year."