Seniors lead South Tahoe girls b-ball past Sparks, playoff hopes dashed
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — On Senior Night, the South Tahoe girls basketball team’s seniors lifted the Vikings to victory. Seniors accounted for all but 11 points in South Tahoe’s 55-44 win over Sparks the STHS Blue Gym, a victory that kept its playoff chances alive.
“They really wanted to step up for the seniors — they were ready and they came out well,” Vikings head coach Mike Neiger said. “We were good enough to get the win.”
South Tahoe (10-14, 7-8 I-A Northern) began the game with an all-senior starting lineup, and that group helped stake the Vikings to an early lead. STHS scored the first seven points of the game, and answered an 8-0 run from Sparks (3-17, 2-13) with the last 10 points of the quarter to take a 17-8 lead.
“We started five seniors and they got a nice little start,” Neiger said.
In the second quarter, South Tahoe scored all nine of its points in a four-minute span in the middle of the frame. Sparks scored the first and last five points of the quarter, and the Vikings went into the break with a 26-18 lead.
South Tahoe led by nine after the third quarter — and had to hold off a rally from Sparks to start the fourth. The Railroaders made it 37-33 with a three-pointer with 6:16 left in the game, but a floater from guard Ally King 11 seconds later sparked a 10-2 run that sealed victory for South Tahoe.
King led the way for the Vikings with 22 points, nine rebounds, six steals and four assists in the victory. Tuesday’s game marked the second time this season the senior has topped the 20-point mark.
“Ally had a nice game — she has really improved her decision making with the last-second dump-off pass to a post player for a short layup,” Neiger said.
Among South Tahoe’s seniors, forward Catherine Baghdikian finished with 11 points and nine rebounds, forward Valeria Garcia had six points and four boards, forward Alicia Rea scored three points and forward Christina Boyar added two points. Sophomore guard Drue Chapman was the Vikings’ third highest scorer with nine points.
For Sparks, guard Marisa Coleman scored a team-high 20 points and forward Karla Burgos added 13. South Tahoe beat the Railroaders 52-45 on Jan. 13 in the teams’ first meeting.
After the game, a ceremony was held to celebrate South Tahoe’s nine seniors — eight of which saw action against Sparks. King, Baghdikian, Garcia, Rea, Boyar, forward Andi Embry, guard Esperanza Moreno, guard Joemae Santos and forward Rachael Lamore helped make the Vikings a cohesive unit on and off the court during the 2014-15 season.
“Coach (Vanos-Embry) and I couldn’t hold it together in the team room,” Neiger said. “It got emotional because this team sets itself apart from others by the way they love each other and get along — they’re just a unit.
“These girls are all about each other — we just look at each other and start to tear up because we’re going to miss them. It’s a special group — a great group of kids — and I love coaching them. It will be tough to say goodbye.”
With the win, South Tahoe kept its slim hopes four the last playoff spot in Div. I-A Northern League alive. The Vikings needed a win in their season finale coupled with two losses by fourth-place Spring Creek (11-12, 8-6) and one loss from sixth-place Fernley (9-13, 6-8) to make the postseason — on Thursday night, however, the Spartans won to clinch the fourth seed.
“We’re motivated to get to 8-8 and beat Fallon,” Neiger said.
South Tahoe hosts Fallon in its regular season finale on Saturday at the STHS Blue Gym. Tipoff is scheduled for 1 p.m.
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