Efficient. That’s the word coach Scott Bow uses describes Uriel Garcia’s play this season for the Umatilla Vikings.
The 5-foot-9 senior is averaging 14 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 3.3 steals and just one turnover a game for the 2-1 Vikings.
He also can play every position on the court, which endears him to Bow.
“I love that about him,” Bow said of Garcia’s versatility. “He rebounds like a post, steals like a guard, and can go to the hoop. He has not had bad game in those categories. We have had him guard 6-8 guys before, and 5-6 guys. He gets the job done.”
The Vikings will put Garcia’s skills to work this week as they host the Columbia River Clash, starting Thursday and running through Saturday. The Vikings will open against Joseph at 7 p.m. Thursday.
Garcia is confident Umatilla can take the tourney title once again.
Class 1A power Nixyaawii is in the opposite side of the bracket. The Vikings beat the Golden Eagles 61-57 last year in a non league game.
“We played them last year and struggled,” Garcia said. “In the fourth quarter, we held them to zero points and got the win. I’m not expecting us to lose this tournament.”
That’s because Garcia knows the weapons the Vikings have in their arsenal - 6-7 post Jakob Cook, toughness inside with 6-2 Trent Durfey, and the capable Sebastian Garcia (no relation) running the show out front.
“I’m a senior and I feel comfortable with my team.” he said. “I have been playing with most of these guys since the third grade. We have height, we have size and speed. We each have our role. We are short on the bench, but as long as we all do our part, we can make it far this year. This is big year and we have to take advantage of it.”
Right now, the Vikings have Garcia at small forward, which suits him fine.
“I like to shoot the 3,” he said. “That’s my specialty. I can play post. They put me everywhere. I’m comfortable wherever they put me.”
Despite being 2-1 to start the season, the Vikings are ranked 27th at the 3A level. They play 1A to 3A teams, and Washington teams in the preseason, so that ranking likely isn’t going to change much until they begin league play Jan. 8 against Irrigon.
“We are aren’t looking at that right now,” Garcia said. “Later on, we will be up there.”
In other first-round games, Nixyaawii will play Grant Union at 2 p.m., and Stanfield will play Helix at 5:30 p.m. at Clara Brownell Middle School. Riverside will play the Kennewick JV at 3:30 p.m. at the high school.
In the girls bracket, Nixyaawii plays Riverside at 2 p.m., and Helix and Umatilla play at 5:30 p.m. at the high school. At Clara Brownell, Grant Union and Mac-Hi play at 3:30 p.m., and Stanfield takes on Joseph at 7 p.m.