South Tahoe advances with annual Elko clinic
South Tahoe High’s boys didn’t leave much suspense Tuesday about whether they’d advance to their 18th straight Nevada 4A state basketball tournament.
Instead, the Vikings challenged visiting Elko and 6-9 senior center Sean Paul on the boards, opened up an early lead, and rolled to an 86-40 win to open the zone playoffs. South Tahoe forced Elko into 14 first-half turnovers, and didn’t allow Paul or the rest of the squad to get into the game.
“I think I held my own against (Paul),” said South Tahoe center Bob Larmore, who faced off against Elko’s more-heralded big man. “I definitely got a lot of boards, defensive and offensive, over him. I think we did a good job defensively, which won the game for us.”
Elko was eliminated by the Vikings in the postseason’s first round for the third year in succession.
Larmore finished with eight points and eight rebounds, compared to Paul’s 11 and 11, but the Vikings didn’t allow Elko, the third-place team from Division I of Northern Nevada 4A, to establish a low-post game.
South Tahoe spread its offense by bringing Larmore – and Paul – out of the paint, and confounded the Indians’ offense with a marauding press.
“I think what happened is we created a lot of turnovers with our defense and that really set the tempo for the game,” said South Tahoe head coach Tom Orlich.
The Vikings forced nine of those in the first quarter. Senior forwards Travis McCollum and Andy Butcher had four and three steals apiece, and both helped Larmore keep Paul off the boards. McCollum finished with a team-high nine rebounds, and Butcher added four more. McCollum and Butcher shared team highs of 13 points as four Vikings starters – and sixth man Tim Sprinkles – scored in double figures.
“The rebounding was going to be the key against any big team, and it’s good to see us start rebounding now going into some really big games,” McCollum said. “Some of it is positioning, some of it is the ball bouncing your way, but rebounding – most of it – is effort, and if you put out more effort, you’re going to get the ball.”
Without the ball, it was tough for Elko to shoot. The Indians had just three field goals in the first quarter. Paul and sophomore forward Matt Alleman each had 11 points for the Indians (16-10 overall). South Tahoe led Elko 19-8 after one, and had the Indians doubled up 50-25 with three minutes to go in the third quarter. Butcher and Vikings senior guard Matt Williams provided the nails in Elko’s coffin with two bombs – Butcher’s a 3-pointer – at the end of the quarter.
South Tahoe improved to 24-4 overall after finishing second in Northern Nevada 4A Division II, and advanced to the zone semifinals Friday. The Vikings will face off against McQueen – the only team to beat South Tahoe at home this season – in a 7:45 p.m. game in Carson City.
The crowd started chanting for one of its favorites – junior reserve guard Andy Mora – with 6 minutes, 28 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Orlich obliged 45 seconds later, and Mora finished with one rebound Tuesday’s other first-round scores were: McQueen 46, Fallon 42; Reno 79, Sparks 55; Galena 61, Carson 54 Tuesday’s game was the first meeting between South Tahoe and Elko this season. Elko did travel to South Tahoe for the 26th annual Viking Rotary Classic Dec. 2-4, and ended up second in the consolation bracket after going 1-2. Elko lost to Victor Valley in the first round, then rebounded to defeat Leland (San Jose, Calif.) before losing to San Jose’s Santa Theresa in the consolation final South Tahoe honored its zone champion and state second-place soccer team at halftime. The Vikings finished the season with just one loss after suffering their first defeat, 1-0 at the hands of Green Valley, in the 4A state championship game Orlich honored his team after the games, and introduced the juniors and seniors. “This year, by far, is one of the finest groups I’ve had the privilege of coaching,” he said.
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