SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. - Defense isn't glamorous, but it does win basketball games, and South Tahoe proved that Wednesday.
"We just clamped down on defense and protected. It's not the most exciting brand of basketball, but we got it done," said South Tahoe coach Mike Neiger.
The lady Vikings were down two key players, but still managed to shut down a disorganized Truckee team 35-28 in a Northern Division I-A regional quarterfinal, ending the Wolverines' season. The win advanced South Tahoe to semifinals against Elko on Friday.
"We didn't play as a team tonight. We played as individuals," Truckee coach Geoff Stephens said. "And South Tahoe kicked our butts."
When these teams met two weeks ago Truckee looked sharp. The Wolverines hit six 3-pointers and they were down two starters. South Tahoe barely squeaked out a 41-40 win off a pair of free throws from Hannah Neiger in the last 30 seconds. The Wolverines won the first meeting against the Vikings 45-27 on Jan. 22.
Wednesday, by all rights, should have been Truckee's advantage. The Vikings were down their senior point guard, Bailey David, who was out with a concussion. They also lost their 3-point sniper, Mel Grady, who left in the first quarter with a broken nose.
The Wolverines, however, couldn't pull it together. They hit zero 3-pointers, and looked disorganized on the court.
Meanwhile, South Tahoe stepped up in the absences of David and Grady. Players like Kailia Griffis and Shelly Leonard came off the bench and seamlessly filled in.
"We were all fired up in the locker room, and the noise from the crowd helped us out a ton, so we came out strong," said Ally King, who had six rebounds and three steals.
The Vikings slowed the pace of the game and used defense as their edge.
They held Truckee's top scorer, Sydnie English, to nine points. English posted 19 points on three 3-pointers the last time the teams met.
"We just couldn't shoot. We were too amped and never recovered," Stephens said.
Add some foul trouble that the Wolverines ran into when senior guard Olivia Duner fouled out in the fourth, and there was no coming back. Duner wasn't the only one in foul trouble though. The rest of the Wolverines started racking up fouls in the fourth as well. Truckee sent Brooke King to the line six times in the fourth quarter.
"Our sportsmanship was awful," Stephens said. "You can say anything you want in the locker room, but when you get on the court you treat your opponent with respect or don't get on the court."
It was one of those trips to the line that cost Truckee any chance of a comeback.
Brooke cemented the win for the Vikings when she nailed a free throw that made it a three-possession game in the final minute of the game.
"Brooke was so upset with missing some free throws," Neiger said, "but that last free throw made it a three-possession game and that was it. She sealed it right there."
The senior made the shot that mattered most and led her team with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
South Tahoe's Riley Chapman was equally instrumental in the fourth. Her steal and ensuing layup with three minutes remaining pushed the Vikings ahead by six and squashed any remaining momentum the Wolverines had mustered.
Chapman contributed 10 rebounds, four steals and three assists. Hannah Neiger had seven points, seven rebounds and went 5-for-7 from the line.
English led the Wolverines with nine points. Jackie Bolton and Duner each added six points.
Truckee posted a final record of 17-9 overall.