Comeback falls short for South Tahoe boys b-ball in 58-57 loss to Lowry |

Comeback falls short for South Tahoe boys b-ball in 58-57 loss to Lowry

Anthony Gentile
South Tahoe junior Harry Moses-Chakmakis goes up for a layup against Lowry’s Omar Guerrero in a league contest Saturday, Jan. 16, at the Blue Gym.
Anthony Gentile / Tahoe Daily Tribune |

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — The South Tahoe boys basketball team produced one of its biggest comebacks in recent memory to set up a thrilling finish against Lowry on Saturday, Jan. 16. Unfortunately for the Vikings, things ultimately didn’t go their way.

South Tahoe lost to the Buckaroos 58-57 at the Blue Gym in a matchup for second place in Div. I-A Northern League. A pair of shots from junior Noah Jackson fell short in the last three seconds to send the Vikings to a heartbreaking defeat.

“We had every chance to win it at the end and the ball didn’t fall our way,” Vikings coach Joby Cefalu said. “The players did everything they could. It could have gone either way, and unfortunately we’re leaving unhappy.”

The Vikings trailed by 13 at halftime, and methodically chipped away at that deficit to pull close by the end of the third quarter. South Tahoe (6-9, 3-2 I-A Northern) turned up its defensive pressure to get back in the game and trailed 42-38 at the start of the fourth quarter.

“We had every chance to win it at the end and the ball didn’t fall our way.”Joby CefaluVikings head coach

“We made no adjustments — what we did was go back to playing Viking basketball,” Cefalu said. “We dropped off in the first half and let them control the tempo.”

The rally continued in the final frame, and the Vikings tied the game at 48 on a fast-break layup from junior Harry Moses-Chakmakis with 5:00 to play. Senior Blake Blocker hit a pair of free-throws 10 seconds later to give South Tahoe its first lead of the game, and a transition basket from junior Tommy Cefalu off of a steal made it 52-48 just 17 seconds after that.

Ahead by four points with 4:33 left, South Tahoe had control and Lowry (11-7, 7-1) appeared finished. But that wasn’t the case.

Following a Buckaroos free throw, the Vikings ran more than a minute off the clock — but the possession led to a turnover and a Lowry basket that made it 52-51. Moses-Chakmakis capped a second lengthy possession by making one of two free throws to put South Tahoe ahead by two with 2:07 left.

“We tried to slow it down a little bit, and unfortunately we had a turnover when we did that,” Cefalu said. “We had momentum at that point and that turnover changed the momentum.”

Lowry answered with the shot of the game on the next trip down, taking the lead on a corner 3-pointer from Omar Guererro. The senior’s fifth trey of the contest came with 1:45 left and didn’t decide the game — but went a long way in doing so.

“That shot changed things,” Cefalu said.

Moses-Chakmakis converted a pair of free throws on the next possession to give South Tahoe a 55-54 lead, but the Buckaroos answered with four straight points. The Vikings had a pair of chances in the last five seconds to win the game, but Jackson had his shot blocked twice — the last a partial deflection on a three from the top of the key as time expired.

“The intent on the final play was to box out the middle man and have somebody come down the lane and get an easy bucket,” Cefalu said. “They covered it up well — it’s a play we’ve run for several years and they knew it was coming.”

South Tahoe found itself in a 7-0 hole three minutes into the game, but rallied to take a 14-10 lead by the end of the opening quarter. Lowry reeled off 17 straight points to start the second quarter — including 11 from Guerrero — and had a 13-point lead at halftime after outscoring the Vikings 25-8.

“We lost one quarter bad,” Cefalu said. “That was the difference in the game.”

Moses-Chakmakis and Blocker scored 17 points apiece for South Tahoe in the loss. Senior Denzel Perez added 13 before being forced out of the game in the final minute with a leg injury.

Guerrero led all scorers with 24 points, including four first-half 3-pointers. Jared Taylor added 16 for Lowry, whose leading scorer Nathan Lutzow was held to nine points in the win — Vikings senior Joe Albrecht largely contained the 6-foot-5 senior throughout the game.

“Joe had a breakout game — Lutzow is a great player and Joe held him in check pretty well,” Cefalu said. “I challenged Joe that Nathan was a much more athletic player than he was, and Joe proved me wrong.”

The Vikings return to action Wednesday, Jan. 20, at Sparks. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. for the contest moved from Friday, Jan. 15, due to weather and transportation issues.

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