Shots don’t fall, but Vikings do
CARSON CITY – Playing in an unfamiliar situation, the South Tahoe High boys basketball team reacted Saturday with an unfamiliar response – a 56-42 loss to Sparks in the third-place game of the Northern Nevada 4A zone tournament at Carson High School.
The Vikings (22-7) kept the game close for three quarters and trailed by just two at 40-38 heading into the game’s final eight minutes. South Tahoe was not able to convert, compiling an anemic 0 for 12 from the field, including 0-7 from 3-point range, to seal its fate. The Railroaders only hit two shots in the fourth but sank 12-of-15 free throws to sink the Vikes.
“It was just one of those situations where both teams were down mentally,” said Sparks coach Gary Scott. “And, all of the sudden, late in the game one team picked it up a little more than the other. We got our focus and adrenaline back, and they didn’t.”
The game marked the Vikings’ (22-7) second loss in as many days and bumped the team into fourth place after entering the tourney with the No. 1 seed.
“It’s the same as last night. We’re really struggling offensively,” said South Tahoe coach Tom Orlich, referring to the shooting woes that also plagued his team in a 67-55 loss Friday to Reed. “It’s been a problem for us this year. We have to be more confident when we shoot the ball.”
The Vikings trailed 25-24 at halftime, scoring several of their first-half buckets off breakaway layups. Forward Adam Williams led the team with six first-half points and scored 11 for the game. Senior guard Josh David paced the Vikes with 13 points.
“It’s just a situation where our game plan stood firm and theirs maybe fell apart a little bit,” Scott said. “I honestly believe they just had no drive and I don’t think they recovered from that loss last night.”
South Tahoe will face Cheyenne of Las Vegas in the state tournament’s first round Wednesday. The game will be the last of four preliminary games that day at 6:30 p.m. at UNR’s Lawlor Event Center.
Despite registering their first losing streak since a two-game drought in the Nike Above-the-Rim holiday tourney in late December, Orlich remains confident in his young team.
“You never know how it is down there in the South,” said Orlich, whose team’s only Northern defeat prior to the 4A zone tourney came against Wooster. “Maybe those teams don’t want to play South Tahoe? I mean, we were 15-1 coming into zone against all the Northern teams.”
The Vikings topped Cheyenne, 51-47, in their only meeting last season. The win marked South Tahoe’s first state playoff win in six seasons; they eventually lost to Las Vegas in the tourney’s semifinals.
The Desert Shields (26-5) are the South’s No. 1 seed this season and are coming off a 92-81 win Saturday in the 4A Southern finals. Cheyenne’s Demetrius Hunter scored a game-high 26 points to rally the team from a 10-point halftime deficit.
“We were going to face the No. 1 team in the South no matter what because we feel like we can beat anybody in Nevada,” said STHS guard Tim Sprinkles. “We have that kind of potential.”
Reed vs. South Tahoe:
South Tahoe was its own worst enemy Friday night, unable to overcome an erratic shooting performance in a 67-55 loss to Reed in the zone tournament semifinals.
The Vikings shot 20 of 49 from the field, including an 0-for-8 performance from behind the arc. Predominantly a shooter’s team, South Tahoe wasn’t able to improvise on a night when it seemed many of its shots just wouldn’t fall.
“We’re a young team and, unfortunately, our youth really showed tonight,” said Orlich, in his 24th season at the helm of the STHS program. “Offensively, we were really inept and we didn’t convert when we needed to.”
After taking their biggest lead of the game at 27-21 late in the first half, the Vikings gave up 14 straight points and trailed 35-27 with 6:22 left in the third.
“We got up by six points, and I think we got a little complacent on our shot selection,” said South Tahoe guard John Giannoni III, who finished with 12 points. David led the Vikes with 15 points. “When they started making a run, we just couldn’t get the shots we needed.”
Guards Zee Bogale and Jay Osborne led the Raiders surge. The pair combined for 11 of Reed’s 14 points during the decisive stretch, most of their shots coming during nimble, fearless hang time around the basket.
South Tahoe trimmed Reed’s lead to three five times in the third and fourth quarters but could never get any closer. Viking Matt Williams drained a 13-footer to make it a 55-52 game with 2:25 to go, but the Raider bench was too much down the stretch. Reserves Teddy Stolpman, Jeremiah Gray and Trevor Moffat scored the Raiders’ last 12 points to ice the game.
“We have great depth on our team,” Osborne said. “We have people to go to down the stretch and they don’t.”
The Raiders win avenged a Dec. 8 defeat, a game in which South Tahoe used a similar run to dispose of Reed in a 73-62 win.
“I can’t even stress how (angry) we were when we lost to them earlier in the year,” said forward Chris Wiskerchen, who was one of five Reed players in double figures with 11 points. “We’ve been waiting for this chance all year.”
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