By Becky Regan
ZEPHYR COVE, Nev. - On paper, a South Tahoe versus Whittell contest looks like it would be close.
South Tahoe lost to Incline by three earlier this year, and Whittell lost to Incline by one. South Tahoe lost to Sparks by 11, and Whittell lost to Sparks by 10, and so on. But on court, the Warriors just don't match up well against the larger Vikings.
The Vikings used their size, bench depth and pressure defense to beat the Warriors 62-36 in front of a packed crowd at Whittell High School on Saturday.
"It's strange how in individual games it always come down to matchups," said Whittell coach Phill Bryant. "On paper we should be close, but we absolutely do not match up with them. The way they play and their size really make a difference when they play us."
The game started out close enough.
The Vikings spread their points around, and capped the first quarter with a 3-pointer from Brandon Cramer.
Whittell was right there with an opening 3-pointer from Austin Neil and back-to-back layups from sophomore Bryce Bronken.
After two lead swaps, South Tahoe held a 12-11 lead going into the second quarter.
The next two quarters, however, were a different story.
The Vikings outscored the Warriors 18-6 and then 21-2 in the second and third quarters. Cramer and Kyante Wilson put up block-after-block on Whittell, and South Tahoe headed into halftime riding an eight-point unanswered run.
The Vikings extended that unanswered point run with another 19 points in the third quarter. Jason Rogers, Hayden Bronken and Jared Fajman couldn't miss. Fajman tossed in back-to-back 3-pointers, and combined the three boys accounted for 15 of the Vikings' 19 points that quarter.
By the fourth, South Tahoe had a 51-19 lead and both teams started pulling their starters.
"It was senior night and I know they wanted to go out big at home. The reality was that we were down by 30, and we have a playoff game the next week," Bryant said. "(Garrett Bronken) was out there working hard, but down by 30 isn't the type of game you leave an important player in."
Whittell had three freshmen and two sophomores on the court in the fourth quarter, and they gave a promising look at at the Warriors' future.
Freshmen Colin Bucholz and Palmer Chaplin both dropped 3's and junior Mark Waite added one to the Warriors' 17-point fourth quarter.
South Tahoe also had both its juniors on the court.
Fajman, who has gotten substantial playing time this season, showed his experience Saturday. He led the Vikings with 12 points, and went 2-for-3 from 3-point range.
Junior Dakoda Baca picked up most of his six points in the fourth quarter.
"To get those guys to come in and execute, that's a good sign," said South Tahoe coach Chris Proctor.
UP NEXT: Whittell heads to Elko for Round 1 of playoffs against ROP on Thursday.
South Tahoe 12 18 21 11 - 62
Whittell 11 6 2 17 - 36