Hug ousts Vikings from postseason consideration |

Hug ousts Vikings from postseason consideration

Chad Sellmer, Tribune staff writer

The Vikings boys’ basketball team closed out its season with a tough loss to Nevada 4A Sierra Division foe Hug at home Tuesday night and thus are eliminated from postseason consideration.

Senior forward Niko Klansek had a solid game after returning from his native Slovenia last week, including a couple of key 3-pointers in the opening quarters. Senior center Curtis Johnson also had a big game on the defensive end with several pivotal blocks under the basket.

But despite playing well in the paint, South Tahoe was beaten 69-54 by the Hawks, who seemed to have a little more fire under them on offense.

With 1:53 left in the first period, Klansek hit a big 3-point shot to cut the Hawks lead to one at 11-10. A two-pointer by the Vikings’ senior point guard Chris Perry tied it at 14 as time expired in the first.

With 6:50 to go in the second quarter, another three by Klansek gave the Vikings the lead at 19-16, but the Hawks stormed back. A lot of scrapping around on the floor may have been the key to this game, as the smaller, faster Hawks took advantage of every loose-ball opportunity. Hug led 29-25 at the half and steadily pulled away from there.

South Tahoe had a number of costly turnovers in the fourth period, helping Hug to the 15-point victory.

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Klansek finished with 19 points and Johnson added 17. Junior wing Dan Tobin had nine points.

The leading scorers for Hug were senior forward Wendell Ware with 13 points and senior forward Tyler Hatley with 11. Nine Hug players scored.

With the win, Hug clinched a playoff berth.

“Curtis (Johnson) is a load and we tried to front him as best we could,” said Hawks head coach Brian Voyles. “And Klansek is a big kid, every bit of 6-5. We were trying to get some offense in the half-court set. We’re not where we want to be yet, but we did a better job tonight.”

Vikings head coach Derek Allister said that although he’s disappointed to not move into postseason play, he is proud of his players and feels that South Lake Tahoe should be too.

“We played badly tonight. I don’t know why it is, but we never seem to play as well at home as we do on the road,” Allister said, noting back-to-back road wins last weekend against North Valleys and Douglas. “We are a shell of the team we were this weekend. Maybe the expectations are just too high.”

Allister credited Hug with solid play at both ends of the ball.

“We probably should have been better, but we let some of the earlier games slip away and that created a do-or-die situation for us. I’m proud of these kids and I think they deserve the respect of the community as well. Nobody will ever know what they went through on a daily basis.”

Several seniors have probably played their last game as Vikings, including Keenyn Wallace, Perry, Phil Griffith, Chris Cosmi, Klansek and Johnson.

“It is impossible to describe the Curtis situation,” Allister said. “Two and a half years ago, this kid walked through the doors of the gym, a huge kid who wanted to play basketball and couldn’t even dunk the ball. In those two years, he made himself into a college player and was named homecoming king. He is one of the most popular kids on campus, which says a tremendous amount about him and his character. Curtis’ future is secure if he stays on the right path.”

Johnson said he never imagined getting a real shot at playing varsity basketball as a kid growing up in San Francisco’s tough Hunter’s Point neighborhood.

“I love playing for Coach Allister,” Johnson said. “When he’s on the court you might not know it, but he’s a fun guy and I like to be around that type of person. He’s helped change me a lot.”