RENO, Nev. - The lady Vikings posted the first winning record the girls' basketball program has seen in more than five years, but in the end, they were one win shy of a trip to state.
The girls didn't go down without a fight though.
The No. 1 seeded Elko team was stacked with some big players, but the Vikings hung in until the final quarter. Elko, however, pulled out of reach halfway through the fourth for a 49-34 win in the semifinals Friday at Wooster High School.
"After starting the season 2-9, we finished 14-12, and overall we just had a really good season," South Tahoe coach Mike Neiger said. "We were 16 minutes away from going to state."
The semifinal win advanced Elko to state and the Northern Division I-A finals on Saturday, which Elko lost to Spring Creek 42-37.
The No. 4 seeded Vikings kept the win within reach Friday night.
Elko jumped out to a 14-8 lead in the first quarter, with five different girls posting points for the Indians. Brooke King's 3-for-4 free throw performance, and Hannah Neiger's closing layup kept the Vikings in the game.
South Tahoe's defense stepped up in the second quarter, holding Elko to six points. It was a chance to take the lead, but the Vikings' shots just weren't falling.
All totaled, South Tahoe shot 16 percent, 8-of-45 from the field and 15-of-29 from the line.
"We hung in until the third or even the fourth quarter," Neiger said. "But we had a lot of open looks that didn't fall."
Part of that was South Tahoe missing one of its top scorers, Mel Grady, who was out with a broken nose from the quarterfinal game against Truckee.
South Tahoe's Hannah stepped up to fill the offensive void that Grady's absence left. Hannah led the Vikings with 15 points and shot 5-of-8 from the line. She also had nine rebounds. King added eight points and went 6-for-11 from the line.
But two offensive contributors weren't enough. Although South Tahoe put up strong defense, Elko built on its early lead to end the third up 33-24. The Indians maintained their 10-point advantage through the fourth, and time ran out for a Vikings' comeback.
"It's just always hard to look at your seniors in the locker room after the season ends because they put so much into the program," Neiger said.
Those seniors are Brooke King, Bailey David, Alisa Caro, Mel Grady and Maddy Brubaker. The four helped build the first winning season the South Tahoe girls' basketball team has seen in more than five years. The Vikings finished their season 14-12.