TAHOE CITY — The North Tahoe boys may not have looked overly sharp throughout all four quarters of their nonleague game against visiting Portola on Tuesday — but it didn’t matter.
The Lakers were plenty good enough to get the job done, as they built a 19-point lead by early in the fourth quarter and held on for a 45-37 victory.
“It was a horrible shooting night for us,” said North Tahoe coach Frank Wright. “We just didn’t execute. Finally we got it together in the third and fourth quarter.”
The Lakers had their ups and downs from the start.
They scored the first two buckets of the game before allowing seven unanswered points, prompting Wright to call an early timeout to get his team back on track.
By late in the second quarter, they had officially heated up. Trailing 15-13, junior guard James Palacio scored on a slashing drive that tied the score. The Lakers proceeded to score the next 10 points to close out the half with a 25-15 lead.
Junior forward Mitchell Myers made a go-ahead free throw and senior point guard Alex Tyler followed by draining a 3-pointer and a pair of free throws. Senior guard Noah McDermott then drove through traffic for a layup, and Tyler sank two more from the charity stripe before the break.
Leading by 10, the Lakers slowed down the pace of the game in the third quarter as they focused on running their set offense. It finally paid off four and a half minutes into the period when Myers received the ball in the post and scored with a strong move.
The Tigers, meanwhile, were ice cold from the field, scoring just four points in the second quarter and six in the third as the Lakers managed to stretch their lead to 14 by the end of the third. Tyler scored the final six points of the quarter, converting a three-point play and burying his second 3-pointer of the game.
He was not done. The skilled senior — who’s still recovering from a knee injury from soccer season — hit a fadeaway jumper to start the fourth and followed with another 3, extending North Tahoe’s lead to the largest margin of the night, at 38-19.
The Tigers still had some fight left, however. They took advantage of repeated Laker fouls by converting free throws in the bonus. Aside from a 3-pointer by North Tahoe senior Omar Vargas — after which he drew a technical foul for taunting — Portola scored 16 straight points to cut the lead to six points, 41-35, with two minutes remaining.
North Tahoe responded with a layup by Kolya Kelly, assisted by Myers, to stop the 16-3 run. Senior guard Alex Bourriague made two free throws down the stretch to help the Lakers fend off the comeback attempt.
“It was a good win — good for the home crowd,” Wright said.
Tyler led all scorers with 20 points, while Myers scored nine, Keller four and Palacio and Vargas three apiece. Mike Martinez led the Tigers with 12 points. Juan Rodriguez added eight points and Connor Kennedy six.
North Tahoe improved to 2-4; Portola fell to 1-3.