South Tahoe boys b-ball beats North Valleys 76-60 in season opener
RENO, Nev. — The South Tahoe boys basketball team tipped off its 2014-15 season in successful fashion last Friday. The Vikings rode a quick start to a 76-60 victory at North Valleys for their first season-opening win in eight years.
“It was really high energy and we played with the goals we have in place — defensive-minded play and a lot of high-percentage shots,” Vikings head coach Joby Cefalu said. “We pretty much stuck to our game plan.”
South Tahoe (1-0) shook off nerves on the first couple possessions of the game, and raced out to a 14-4 lead in the first quarter. The Vikings scored 26 points in the opening frame, and had a 14-point advantage after the first eight minutes.
“Our defense really made a good run right in the beginning of the game,” Cefalu said. “We forced the opposing coach to take a timeout, and out of that timeout he tried to make adjustments for our press — we got two steals right off the bat.”
The Vikings maintained that 14-point lead at halftime, and held a 59-41 advantage after three quarters. North Valleys (0-1) pulled within eight points in the fourth quarter, but South Tahoe turned up its defensive intensity to close out the game.
“In past years, Tahoe teams at that point would crumble — these guys just really dug deep, that conditioning paid off and we wore them down,” Cefalu said. “It got to the point where the opposing team didn’t want the ball —they tried to pass the ball up the court, and we filled the lanes well and did a good job of taking away that first and second pass.”
South Tahoe shot 54 percent from the field and hit 75 percent of its three-point attempts on the way to its first season-opening win since the 2006-07 season. The Vikings turned the ball over 17 times against the Panthers, one of the few negative spots in the victory.
“I’m proud that we started the way we did — we just need to clean up some of our turnovers and maybe not rush the ball so much when we do have an offensive possession,” Cefalu said. “The high-percentage shots paid off.”
In its season debut, a Vikings team made up almost completely of upperclassmen got strong performances from a pair of sophomores. Guard Harry Moses-Chakmakis scored a team-high 21 points to go along with four steals, and guard Tommy Cefalu finished with nine points and four steals — both players combined for four turnovers.
“We got great contributions from our younger players, and that really helped the older players to finish off the win,” Cefalu said.
Forward Tyler Hogbin recorded a double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds in the win. Guard Kirby David scored 12 points, forward Stone Merkley added 10 and guard Chase Waterman finished with eight points and seven assists as part of a balanced South Tahoe attack.
“We are not a team of superstars — Harry’s performance was terrific and I’m really happy with that,” Cefalu said. “Balanced scoring is something we’re going to have to rely on all year — I hope we can maintain it throughout. Nobody has to do too much.”
For North Valleys, center Octavian Corley scored a game-high 23 points and pulled down seven rebounds. The 6-foot-10-inch junior was guarded by a combination of Hogbin, Merkley and forward Matt Herring throughout the game — that trio kept Corley off the boards and got him into foul trouble.
“He was definitely a force,” Cefalu said of Corley. “He was a big kid that could play with his face to the basket — we had a hard time trying to adjust to his play. We were trying to go at him hard and trying to get him to foul.”
South Tahoe returned to action Thursday night, when it began play in the Gold Dust Tournament against host El Dorado (Placerville, Calif.). The Vikings continue tournament play Friday and Saturday.
“We’ve attended this tournament for the past five or six years, and we’ve always struggled,” Cefalu said. “On our list of goals is to get to the championship game. We’re going to be prepared for this — it’s a good barometer for us to see how we can compete.”