The Vikings were looking for a spark in the fourth quarter.
The game had slipped uncomfortably close, closer than anyone expected given South Tahoe's height advantage over Fernley, and the Vikings were trying to hold on.
"It was right around that 45-41 time, and I was a little concerned and looking for a spark," coach Chris Proctor said. "Jared obviously had made up his mind to be that spark."
It wasn't the biggest guys who stepped up to carry the Vikings to a 57-49 win in the fourth quarter against Fernley at home Saturday. It was Jared Fajman, Kris Digrande and Hayden Bronken who kept the Vikings alive.
Fajman was the spark Proctor was looking for. Fajman picked up the energy level with an explosive layup to open the Vikings' fourth half scoring. He then went 3-for-4 on free throws keeping the Vikings tied with Fernley.
"We needed someone to come in and do something good and sure enough it was Jared and Kris together who helped us in that last quarter," Proctor said.
DiGrande is one of the smaller guy on the court but, at 5-foot-8, all he needed was sheer athleticism to pull down an offensive rebound. His follow up shot edged the Vikings further ahead as the final minutes ticked down. Defensively, DiGrande has a knack for getting in the passing line and coming up with deflections without drawing the foul.
Offensive rebounds, however, were owned by Bronken.
"I just get lucky I guess," Bronken said. "I fight for position and wait for the bounce off."
Bronken played with more than luck in the second half though. He scored five of the Vikings first seven points to open the second half. His offensive rebounds became the difference maker as the Vikings struggled to hold onto the lead.
"I've watched him play since he was a freshman, and he's always had a knack for being in the right place at the right time," Proctor said. "He sets a tone for us on rebounds a lot, and he's not the best athlete out there, he's just a good technician."
Bronken led the Vikings with 13 points, went 5-for-7 from the free-throw line and pulled down seven rebounds. Brandon Cramer added 10 points and a 7-for-8 free-throw performance.
Jason Rogers and Cale Backinger each collected eight rebounds. Five of Backinger's were offensive rebounds that he turned into points edge the Vikings to a 29-24 lead going into halftime. -
The Vikings are now 5-7 overall and 3-1 in crossover games. They will play Lowry at home Saturday at 4:30 p.m.
"We can't take any match for granted," Cramer said. "We always have to dig deep every day, and that's the only way we're going to get through the season."
South Tahoe 57, Fernley 49
South Tahoe ---17 ---12 ---11 ---17 ---- 57
Fernley ---14 ---10 ---15 ---10 ---- 49
Friday in Fallon
Fallon was outmuscled by the Vikings' Cale Backinger, who recorded a game-high 23 points. The all-state tight end punished the smaller Fallon frontcourt with numerous offensive rebounds and easy layups.
Fallon's inability to rebound hurt the Wave's efforts as South Tahoe grabbed nine offensive rebounds on two possessions in the first quarter.
Fallon held a 15-10 first quarter lead thanks to five points from Jeff Evett and four points from LaDamien Crawley. Evett scored a team-high 12, while Crawley added 10.
Backinger, though, came into form in the second half, as he scored 18 points. Aiding his cause, however, was the foul trouble of Fallon center Beau Marshall, who fouled out in early in the fourth quarter.
Brandon Cramer added 10 points for South Tahoe and John Cefalu scored nine. South Tahoe also hit 18 of 22 free throws, while Fallon connected on 9 of 14.
South Tahoe 62, Fallon 50
South Tahoe ---10 ---18 ---14 ---20 ---- 62
Fallon ---15 ---11 ---12 ---12 ---- 50
- Lahontan Valley News sports editor Steve Puterski contributed to this report.