South Tahoe boys b-ball beats Sparks 65-44
SPARKS, Nev. — The South Tahoe boys basketball team played away from its home court for the first time in five games Tuesday night — and overcame a sluggish performance to extend its unbeaten streak. The Vikings beat Sparks 65-44 at the Brick House to notch a fifth straight victory.
“We were sluggish throughout — and to be able to come out with a win on a night when we weren’t really hitting on all pistons was critical,” Vikings head coach Joby Cefalu said. “Hopefully we learned some lessons from this that will carry us.”
South Tahoe (9-7, 5-2 I-A Northern) had a 14-6 lead after the first quarter and took an eight-point lead into halftime. Sparks (4-10, 0-6) played STHS tough from the opening tap despite a winless mark in league play, and the Vikings needed a late second-quarter surge to stay in front of the Railroaders.
“We had a stretch where the press worked at the end of the half for a little bit where we got some turnovers and buckets,” Cefalu said. “Sparks put up a pretty good battle to start and we had to fight through some adversity, missed shots and turnovers.”
In the second half, South Tahoe slowly pulled away for a comfortable win. The Vikings lead 44-30 after three quarters and went on to deliver a 21-point victory, their fourth straight in league play.
“It was a good, team win on the road — the Brick House is always a tough place to go play,” Cefalu said. “They’re a well-coached team and our boys were able to once again play a different style of game.
“When they started making runs, we’d match buckets — that was really good for us. We had a couple nice runs that stretched the game.”
Forward Stone Merkley scored a game-high 19 points in the win, leading South Tahoe in scoring for the second straight contest. Merkley made 50 percent of his field goal attempts and shot 6-for-8 at the free-throw line.
“Stone had a really good night — he shot really well,” Cefalu said.
“He’s showing his leadership — his shot is really coming around, he has a lot of confidence right now and it’s nice to see.”
Merkley was one of four Vikings in double figures against Sparks — guard Harry Moses-Chakmakis scored 14 points to go along with four rebounds and four assists, guard Kirby David finished with 13 points, five rebounds and five assists, and forward Tyler Hogbin had 10 points and six rebounds. South Tahoe had 21 assists on 26 field goals in the victory.
“We continue to improve every game — even though the boys were a bit sluggish, we’re getting better in certain aspects of the game every time we play,” Cefalu said.
Every South Tahoe player that made the trip Tuesday night saw action against the Railroaders. Cefalu said key bench contributions came from guards Aaron Pfister and Noah Jackson in the frontcourt along with forwards Matt Herring and Joe Albrecht inside.
“It was a really good team effort,” Cefalu said. “We still have a lot of kids sick and a lot of kids injured, so we went deep on the bench and were able to get everybody in the game.”
South Tahoe beat the Railroaders despite committing 21 turnovers and losing the rebounding battle. The Vikings grabbed 31 rebounds, three less than Sparks — and the hosts’ total included 19 on the offensive end.
“It’s really a matter of wanting to do it — rebounding and defense is really about heart and intensity, and we have to pick that up,” Cefalu said. “Winning the possession and keeping them off the offensive boards is something we’re going to really focus on in practice, and it’s something the kids have to want.
“We’ve been a good rebounding team this year, but it’s dropped off — we’re just looking to work on that and make it one of our points of emphasis.”
South Tahoe continues league play Saturday at Fallon. Tipoff is scheduled for 2:30 p.m.
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