Who saw this coming? Warriors stun Vikings
No one gave them a chance – except themselves.
The Whittell High Warriors stunned the South Tahoe Vikings 36-33 on Tuesday in the first-ever Mount Rose League boys’ basketball meeting between the neighboring schools in South Lake Tahoe.
Whittell, a Class 2A school of barely 200 students, shocked the Class 3A Vikings, who have a student enrollment nearly six times as large, to earn South Shore bragging rights for a least 10 days.
“We all know we could do it. We just didn’t know how hard it would be,” said Whittell senior Blake Heldt-Werle. “Maybe we just worked a little harder, and maybe there was a little bit of luck, too.”
The Warriors (4-9 overall, 1-1 league) pulled off the improbable victory with a sticky man-to-man defense that provided help when a Viking got loose in the key.
Whittell built a six-point lead when Shawn Mand curled in a six-foot shot with 3 minutes, 10 seconds remaining.
But STHS didn’t go away. The Vikings dialed up a higher level of pressure defense and forced several turnovers.
A pair of free throws by Peter Pielaet-Strayer and Brandon Cramer pulled the Vikings within 33-31 with 1:56 remaining. Pielaet-Strayer converted a turnover into two points to tie the score at 1:42.
The Warriors, however, solved South Tahoe’s press and Heldt-Werle was the beneficiary, laying in the decisive two points with :40 left.
South Tahoe fans thought Pielaet-Strayer delivered the tying points, but the senior was called for traveling on a drive to the bucket with :21 remaining.
After a Whittell turnover, STHS senior Wade Norberg was fouled along the baseline. Norberg back-rimmed the first shot, then the Vikings were called for a lane violation when Norberg sank the second.
With only 1.3 seconds left, South Tahoe was forced to foul Alex Vogt in the backcourt, and the senior made 1 of 2 to close out one of the biggest wins in Whittell history.
“We were dead serious, and we need to be like that the rest of the year,” said Conner Ferris of the Warriors’ final practice leading up to Tuesday’s game.
Heldt-Werle and Ferris led the Warriors with 10 points. Cramer topped South Tahoe (7-8 overall, 1-2 league) with 11 points.
The teams meet again Jan. 28 in Zephyr Cove.
Mount Rose League boys’ basketball standings
North Tahoe 1-1
South Tahoe 1-2
Jan. 13 game
Incline 81, Sparks 72
South Tahoe 42, Truckee 39
North Tahoe 49, Whittell 43
Whittell 36, South Tahoe 33
Truckee 69, North Tahoe 29