Giannoni’s buzzer-beater hands Reno first defeat
When John Giannoni III’s running one-hander in the lane finally dropped into South Tahoe’s basket Tuesday, the Vikings had made their point clear.
The Vikings team that evened the season series with the Huskies with a 48-46 win at South Tahoe wasn’t the same one that lost by 11 in Reno on Jan. 11. Tuesday, they executed their game plan nearly perfectly, right down to the last play.
“We didn’t want to give them enough time to go down and shoot again, whether we made it or missed,” said Giannoni, the senior Vikings guard who made the game-winner with 1.4 seconds left in the game.
With the score tied at 46, Giannoni and the Vikings delayed, then ran the offense with the clock running down. Giannoni took the ball straight to the middle and shot from the lane. The ball bounced off the rim and rolled down, leaving Reno without even enough time for a desperation shot.
“It was the shot we wanted,” said South Tahoe head coach Tom Orlich, whose team improved to 22-4 overall, 10-1 in Northern Nevada 4A Division II play with the home win. “We executed the play to perfection.”
Execution made the difference between the two games. Unlike the Jan. 11 meeting in Reno, when the first strike from the Huskies sent South Tahoe reeling through three quarters, the Vikings got back up after the first punch. Reno led by as many as 11 in the first quarter Tuesday, but the Vikings controlled the damage, and trailed just 15-12 after the first quarter. While Reno (22-4 overall, 10-1 in Division II) still owns the first tiebreaker – point differential – in the race for the regular-season division title, South Tahoe met its goal.
“We didn’t care about the points,” Orlich said. “We just wanted to win. We wanted to make a statement that we weren’t the same team (as Jan. 11).”
Senior forward Travis McCollum led South Tahoe with 14 points, and Giannoni had 12.
Like the first game, South Tahoe had to withstand a monster defensive effort from David Padgett, Reno’s 6-9 freshman center. Padgett finished with 13 boards and nine blocks to go along with his eight points. But unlike the first meeting, South Tahoe kept Huskies guard Alex Gamboa from playing havoc with the Vikings defense. Gamboa did finish with a game-high 20 points but couldn’t take over the game like he did last month. South Tahoe swingman Tim Sprinkles came off the bench to set the tone for a much better Vikings defense.
“I kind of told the coach (Orlich) that I wanted Gamboa,” Sprinkles said.
“We knew them better than we know ourselves, pretty much. Reno’s a great team, and you’ve got to have a game plan to go against them.”
That game plan hinged on Orlich’s harassing, pressing defense, which forced 15 Huskies turnovers. That complemented South Tahoe’s offense, which gave the ball up just twice in the second half.
“We did everything better offensively,” said Orlich, who called longtime assistants Larry Reilly and Mike Greenfield to join him on the bench. “As I said earlier, we didn’t play up to our expectations (in Reno). We put a lot of pressure on our defense, and our defense and rebounding saved us tonight.”
Senior forward Andy Butcher put South Tahoe ahead 46-44 with a 3-pointer with 1:57 left. Both Giannoni and Butcher had chances to put South Tahoe three points up, but both missed the front ends of their one-and-ones. Gamboa’s basket with 14.8 left tied the score, setting up Giannoni’s final shot.
“We played a little harder for 32 minutes,” Giannoni said. “We kept up the intensity the whole game.”
Even though Reno owns the tiebreaker over South Tahoe, the Vikings still could win the regular-season league title if they win Friday and Reno loses. Reno travels to Douglas for a game, while South Tahoe tips off at Fallon at 7 p.m.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around the Lake Tahoe Basin and beyond make the Tahoe Tribune's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User