Big games on tap for Viking hoop teams |

Big games on tap for Viking hoop teams

Maybe the presence of a big ski event in South Lake Tahoe has subliminally influenced basketball: South Tahoe’s boys have been a little too “freestyle” to make their coach happy.

“We had a lot of defensive errors and a lot of missed shots, and if we play like that again, we’ll lose,” South Tahoe head coach Tom Orlich said after his Vikings (15-4 overall, 3-1 in Northern Nevada 4A Division II play) squeaked by host Wooster 70-68 in overtime Saturday.

The last week of league play was a rough one for the Vikings, who dropped a division game at Reno on Jan. 11 before the struggling Colts took their guests to overtime. But Orlich doesn’t expect this week to be any easier with a home game against Fallon (9-5 overall, 2-1 in Division II) at 7 p.m. Friday and a home rematch with Hug (7-12 overall, 2-4 in Division II) at 5 p.m. Saturday. While neither team can match South Tahoe’s winning percentage this season, Orlich is taking neither lightly. Hug has won two of its last three games after a close loss to Carson, while Fallon beat Wooster by 14, beat Douglas, and couldn’t make up a late three-point deficit to Carson – a team many picked to win the league.

“They’re playing good, and Fallon is playing as good as anybody,” Orlich said. “We’re going to have a real test for us.”

The Vikings haven’t seen Fallon yet this year, but the Greenwave seems to have turned things around from a 8-14 season last year. Head coach Corey Williams has been able to blend returners Kenny Redner, Aaron Lesue, Derrick Johnson and Casey Cooper with a number of holdovers from an undefeated junior varsity squad.

South Tahoe has seen Hug before, and blew them out in Reno. Travis McCollum and Bob Larmore dominated the post – combining for 38 points as South Tahoe won 80-48 on Jan. 4.

With two home games on the schedule, a .500 record in conference play, and a rare balanced game in the recent past, South Tahoe’s girls are sitting pretty for once.

The Vikings (5-12 overall, 2-2 in division play) draw Hug (4-16, 0-6 in Division II) the team they beat for their first conference win in more than three years on Saturday, and face Fallon (8-5 overall, 2-1 in Division II) Friday in South Lake Tahoe instead of after a mammoth road trip. But still, head coach Tim Jaureguito doesn’t want his troops to be complacent.

“Coming into this weeekend, I like where we are right now,” said Jaureguito, whose team has produced two more wins this season than in the previous three.

“We’ve got to win one of two, but what we’re really shooting for is two of two.”

With 5-10 post players Monica Meihack and Karin Christiansen complementing a quick, athletic backcourt, Fallon matches up well with South Tahoe. But that translates the other way, too, where 5-11 senior center Chantelle Young and 5-9 senior power forward Tirah Samura and 5-8 small forward Cassandra Psomas give South Tahoe’s Lindsey Hitt and Melissa Johnson a similar look.

“I think we match up,” Jaureguito said. “I don’t think we have a height advantage.”

Still, Jaureguito said it’s nice to match up well. Under second-year head coach Chelle Dalager, Fallon has been able to balance its height and speed to improve on a .500 1999 season.

Hug has gone the other way. South Tahoe beat the Hawks 47-45 on Samura’s 17-foot buzzer-beater on Jan. 4., losing their next five league games. Hitt scored 15 points for the Vikings that evening, and Johnson added 12.

South Tahoe returns to action after final exams against Fallon at 3:15 p.m. Friday, then takes on Hug at Hug at 3:15 p.m. Saturday.

Whittell boys face important game

As well as Whittell’s boys have performed early, and as much as Hawthorne has struggled overall, not much separates the two in division play.

Friday’s 7:30 p.m. game in Mineral County matches the third-place Warriors (6-8 overall, 2-1 in Northern Nevada 3A Division II) with the fourth-place Serpents (2-13 overall, 2-3 in league play). The standings aren’t on the line because of the division record, but it’s a game Whittell head coach Steve Maltase would like to win to get off on the right foot to a 3-1 week.

“As far as what I’ve heard, they’re better than their record is,” Maltase said. “I’ve heard, at times they’re really good, and at times they’re not so good.”

Senior wing Avery Norman has emerged as the Warriors’ best scorer – whether quietly ringing up Lovelock for 12, or loudly torching Incline for 28 in Whittell’s lone division loss. But Whittell’s defense is concerned with limiting Hawthorne’s leading scorer, 6-4 senior Eric Bales.

“He’s one fo the better players in the league, for sure,” Maltase said.

Bales should see big doses of Todd Echan, Whittell’s outsized but hard-working 5-10 center, in man situations, but Maltase would like to take Bales out of the game with transition defense.

Whittell girls face tall order

Whittell’s girls face a tall order in their first game in more than two weeks – no pun intended – when they take on Hawthorne at 6 p.m. Friday.

In contrast to the Warriors, who have no player taller than 5-10, the Serpents are blessed with natural height, depth and athleticism. The most noticeable is senior center Ashlee Orndorff, who dwarfs Whittell’s frontline at 6-2, but sister Sidney has been scoring more points than Ashlee in recent games. Combine that with a relentless press, and Whittell (0-11 overall, 0-3 in Northern Nevada 3A Division II play) is looking at a tough 6 p.m. game on Friday.

“They have tremendous depth, they have tremendous talent, and we have to go out there and play hard because I don’t think they’ll be a team that won’t come out ready to play,” said Warriors head coach Lindsay Wines.

Whittell has worked on limiting turnovers, creating steals, and grabbing offensive rebounds, three tasks that will be key against the pressing, smooth-running, tall Serpents. Junior Caitlin Fagan is Whittell’s best ball-handler and leading scorer, but Alisha Roth and Nichole Wasson have been helping with those duties.

“We have to just go out there and play hard and be proud of what we’ve done and be done,” Wines said.

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