Lancers stun Vikings in season opener
South Tahoe High head coach Tom Orlich knew McQueen’s boys were dangerous visitors for a home basketball opener, and the Lancers proved him right, winning 56-45 Tuesday.
The Vikings showed commitment to the defensive intensity and rebounding Orlich targeted in practice, but South Tahoe’s offensive execution lacked its trademark precision as McQueen pulled away to win by 11 in the opener for both teams. A four-point Lancers lead with one minute left swelled to six over the next 30 seconds, and McQueen held off the Vikings for a win.
“I think offensively tonight, we really struggled,” Orlich said. “We didn’t execute. We haven’t been doing that, and when you score 45 points, you’re not going to win ball games.
“It came down to two areas, basically, and that was turnovers and poor shot selection,” Orlich said. “Every time we’d climb into it, we’d take a bad shot or we’d throw it away.”
South Tahoe appeared ready to claw its way back into the game when Vikings senior guard Matt Williams nailed a 3-pointer with 7:11 left in the game, cutting McQueen’s lead to 41-40. Moments later, classmate Bob Larmore knotted the score, hitting one out of two free throws. But that was the last major offensive gasp for the Vikings, as McQueen outscored South Tahoe 15-4 down the stretch.
“We had to sell the kids on playing hard for 32 minutes,” said McQueen head coach Eric Swain, whose Lancers finished last season 15-14. “Teams hang in here for a quarter, for a half maybe, but then the pressure, the intensity, the pressure wears on you, and we really got a good effort out of our bench tonight. We didn’t drop off in intensity off our bench, and that was the difference, I think.”
Senior forward Travis McCollum led South Tahoe with 11 points.
“They made the shots they had to make, and we didn’t,” said McCollum, a senior who played varsity as a sophomore before a knee ligament injury forced him to the sideline last season. “We shot good shots, we just didn’t make them.”
Both defenses clearly rattled the opposition, but it was McQueen that hit the big shots down the stretch. Junior guard Karl Aaker was solid, leading all scorers in the fourth quarter with five points, and his backcourt complement, Chris Carr, helped the Lancers keep their composure. Carr hit three of his four foul shots in the fourth quarter and steadied McQueen on offense.
“They do such a good job on defense that they get you playing quicker than you want to,” Swain said. “So we had to take a deep breath, let everything clear, and see what was going on on the floor.”
The loss was the first for South Tahoe in a season home opener in the 1990s. But the game could provide a wake-up call for the Vikings, who next take the floor against Santa Theresa at 6:15 p.m. Thursday in the Viking Rotary Classic.
“Those things will happen,” Orlich said. “Plus, when you play a game against a team that’s pretty good like McQueen, your really good players have to play very good and that didn’t happen tonight.
“We just didn’t get it done, and I have faith that the players will still be heard from before the year is ended.”
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