‘Playoffs’ start tonight for Vikings, Tigers
Both coaches can throw out the misleading tapes from their previous two matchups. Douglas won by a blowout in December and South Tahoe reciprocated by trouncing the Tigers in January.
Tonight’s Nevada 4A Sierra Division boys basketball showdown in South Lake Tahoe should come down to the team that brings the most emotion to the court. Playoff berths and jockeying are up for grabs at 7 p.m. in the next-to-last- division game.
“This game is absolutely critical,” said Vikings coach Derek Allister. “Why this game is so critical is because it would gave us the tiebreaker edge against Douglas.”
Both teams still have a chance to finish second, and each team could still miss the playoffs. Douglas sits in third place with a 4-4 record, while STHS is tied with Hug for the division’s fourth-and-final postseason spot at 3-5.
“We can’t worry about what we can do. We have to be ready to battle, because I know Tahoe will be up for this game,” said Douglas coach Keith Lewis. “We’ve shown that the bigger game, the better we’ve played, and I hope that trend continues.”
Douglas brings perhaps the league’s hottest squad to Tahoe. The Tigers have won three straight league games, including a win at division-leading Reno and a 70-62 overtime victory against second-place Carson last Friday.
The latter victory gives Douglas a decent chance of finishing second. The Tigers need to win their remaining two games, while Carson must lose at Reno tonight.
“I don’t know if it was self-urgency at 1-4 or what it was,” Lewis said. “We had the opportunity to go on the road and get our wits about us and they’ve been a lot more focused.”
Seth Lee will definitely have the Vikings’ attention tonight. The 6-foot-3 senior forward leads the Northern Nevada 4A with 23 points per game.
“The way Seth shoots he’s capable of putting 30 points on any team,” Allister said. “Even though he got 20 against us last time, it was an inconsequential 20. We really keyed on him and some of their other guys didn’t make the plays their coach would hope they’d make.”
Since their crushing defeat to the Vikings at home, Lee has made his teammates better players, according to Lewis.
“Seth has really taken his game to another level,” Lewis said. “Since we started the back half of league his leadership – something he knew we always needed more of – it’s like a light went on. A big key is Seth realizes he has talent around him.”
South Tahoe also starts a player capable of putting 30 points on the board. In fact, senior Chris Ortiz did the last time the teams met in Minden.
“We’re obviously going to have to play a better game defensively,” Lewis said. “Emotionally, I don’t think we were ready to play the last time.”
Allister knows it won’t be the cakewalk it was the last time.
“Their 18-year-old kids. I’ve coached guys who have taken people lightly the second time around,” Allister said. “They felt they were a better team than we were. I think that took a little edge away from their game.”
The Vikings didn’t provide Allister his first home league victory until last Friday – a crucial 59-54 win over Hug. Hence, the first-year coach hopes the win gives the Vikings some momentum toward nailing down one of the three remaining playoff berths up for grabs.
“We haven’t been the greatest team at home,” Allister said. “We’ve played much better on the road than we’ve played at home, so I should call those guys and see if we can go down there and play.”
Prior to the boys varsity game, the STHS girls will wind up their home slate against the Tigers at 5:15 p.m. Unless the Viking boys can finish second, tonight will also mark the final home game for seniors.
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Athletes from across the globe will make their way into the National Stadium in Beijing, China, next month for the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics.