TAHOE CITY, Calif. - By the time the North Tahoe boys hit their stride against visiting Pershing County on Saturday, a moral victory was all that remained within reach.
The Lakers achieved just that, rebounding from a sluggish start to outscore the Mustangs in the second half of their Division III basketball game. But the hot second half wasn't enough to overcome the large early deficit, and Pershing County withstood the late run to hang on for a 55-39 win.
"We were just cold shooting," said North Tahoe coach Frank Wright, describing the difference between the first and second halves. "Our shots started to fall (in the second half) and we started to get rebounds."
Pershing County took advantage of North Tahoe's early shooting woes with a big second quarter. By half, the visitors' 10-6 lead at the end of the first quarter had ballooned to 32-11.
The Mustangs then scored the first eight points of the second half to push their lead to the largest margin of the night, at 40-11.
Wright called a timeout to stop the bleeding, and the Lakers responded with a 10-0 run against Pershing County's second unit, including a pair of free throws and a bucket inside by Mitchell Myers, and a couple of old-fashioned three-point plays by Colin Spencer.
Terrell Callao-George banked in a 3-pointer to halt the Lakers' run late in the third quarter. North Tahoe continued to work the ball inside to Spencer and Myers in the fourth, while junior point guard Alex Tyler hit a 3-pointer and caused several steals as the Lakers picked up their defensive pressure in the final frame.
"The kids did a great job fighting and not giving up," said Wright, whose team outscored Pershing County 16-11 in the fourth quarter. "This team does not give up. But they (the Mustangs) are a good team."
Neither team lit up the net in the first quarter. Pershing County scored the first 8 points before Tyler hit a free throw nearly nine minutes in. Myers followed with a bucket and two free throws and Sean McDermott scored on a fast break to pull North Tahoe to within 10-6 by the end of the first quarter.
Pershing County dialed up its full-court pressure in the second quarter, pestering Tyler as he tried to bring the ball up the floor. The Mustangs also burned the Lakers' zone defense on several occasions with backdoor cuts that led to easy layups. Other times the visitors converted offensive rebounds into points, or made the Lakers pay from the perimeter.
The Mustangs' considerably deeper bench helped their cause, as they substituted five players at a time while North Tahoe made due with seven players total.
Spencer finished with 13 points to lead the Lakers, including 10 points in the second half. Tyler scored 11 points and Myers had nine. Callao-George and Randolph McLean scored 12 points apiece to pace Pershing County, and Seth Montes added eight points.
North Tahoe fell to 4-7 overall and 0-3 against members of the Division III. Pershing County improved to 13-3 overall and 6-1 against the D-III.
UP NEXT: The Lakers are scheduled to host Quincy on Tuesday at 8 p.m. and Truckee on Friday at 7:30.