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Lancers succumb to Viking pressure

Michael Traum

The South Tahoe High boys basketball team knows that pressure and rebounding are the keys for the 1997-98 season.

And while the rebounding was adequate, the pressure was excellent, as the Vikings surged past a physically talented McQueen group, 69-47, in the season opener for both schools on Tuesday in South Lake Tahoe.

The Vikings forced 20 Lancer turnovers to their five while scoring 40 points to McQueen’s 22.

“That’s typical Tahoe. They’re so persistent with the pressure that if you don’t stay in it mentally, all of a sudden it goes from a two- to four-point game to 12 to 14. And that’s a whole different ball game,” said McQueen coach Eric Swain.

The Lancers hung early as the Vikings felt their way through a series of player combinations. More than half of the Vikings saw court time in a strategy designed to wear down the opponent.

As a result, McQueen took advantage of some impatience and indecision. Senior swingman Matt Long hit for six of his 13 points in the first quarter, mostly on slashing drives or rebound putbacks. But Tahoe countered with a weapon it hopes to exploit this season – balanced scoring – as Alan Case nailed six of his 18 and Josh David dropped five of seven total. The quarter ended with Tahoe up, 15-12.

“McQueen did a good job of getting the second shot. We knew they were a very good boarding team and very athletic,” said Tahoe coach Tom Orlich. “Our rebounding hurt us (in the first half) and we didn’t rotate on defense like we should.”

It was more of the same in the second eight minutes, as Long tossed in five while Tahoe saw scoring from five different players. The half ended with Tahoe up, 29-25.

“Coach pumped us up at halftime and gave us a few words of, uh, encouragement. And we went out and took care of business,” said sophomore starter Travis McCollum, who was impressive in his first varsity game with 10 points and inspired defense. “My role with the starting group isn’t to score, it’s to play defense really hard and make some things happen.”

The Vikes were outrebounded 8-7 in the first quarter but pushed to even the number at 29 by game’s end. On the flip side, Tahoe shot a dismal 11-of-26 from the charity stripe.

“We’re going to work on that (foul shooting) tomorrow in practice. Believe me,” McCollum said.

In McQueen’s defense, the team had just two days of complete practices as eight of its players just finished a state championship football season.

But as the evening progressed and the Vikes’ intensity without the ball increased, a first-half nail-biter quickly became a second-half yawner.

Tahoe outscored McQueen 21-12 in the third quarter, forcing six Lancer turnovers during a four-minute, 16-6 run. Greg Bruso led a muscle-bound charge, coming alive to collect his five points with physical, in-your-face pressure. Case added seven.

Tahoe’s Aaron Buckman finally iced it three minutes into the final eight, dropping a breakaway layup and burying a three-ball as the Vikes broke into a 20-point advantage. Buckman finished with 12. Sophomore Matt Williams served notice that the bench can play, burying a three-ball and free throw. Casey Dowling finished with eight points.

“It’s a 32-minute game. Our defense really wore on them and they got tired,” Orlich said. “We had a lot of small runs off our press that kept building on a lead.”

Tahoe (1-0) opens the talent-packed 24th annual Viking Rotary Classic on Thursday at 4:40 p.m. versus Franklin of Los Angeles.


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