South Tahoe boys b-ball downs Damonte Ranch 65-43, notches much-needed win
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — On paper, it was simply a nonleague contest in the middle of December. But for the South Tahoe boys basketball team, getting a result against Damonte Ranch (Reno, Nev.) at home Saturday, Dec. 19, was absolutely necessary.
“It felt like we definitely needed to win this one,” Vikings senior Blake Blocker said. “It was a big win for us.”
The Vikings scored the first 11 points of the game on the way to a wire-to-wire 65-43 win over the Mustangs. For South Tahoe, victory over the Div. I opponent ended a five-game losing streak dating back to its season opener.
“It’s a real important victory,” Vikings senior Denzel Perez said. “We needed this to pick ourselves up and pick our heads up — this is just the start.”
South Tahoe (2-5) raced out to an 11-0 lead to set the tone for its most lopsided win of the campaign. A fast break layup from junior Zen Contestable 18 seconds after tipoff opened the scoring, and the Vikings’ first five baskets came from five different players.
The Vikings kept Damonte Ranch (2-10) off the scoreboard for the first five minutes of the game, and had a 19-9 lead after the opening frame. Perez hit a 3-pointer just before the first-quarter buzzer to give South Tahoe a double-digit advantage.
The Mustangs opened the second quarter on a 6-1 run, pulling to within 20-15 with 5:03 left in the first half. But Blocker hit a 3-pointer on the next trip down and Damonte Ranch wouldn’t get closer than seven points the rest of the way — by halftime, South Tahoe had opened up a 38-20 lead.
“It came natural to us,” Perez said. “That’s the team we should be.”
In the second half, the Vikings maintained at least a 13-point advantage while rolling to victory. The win ended a stretch of tough losses for South Tahoe — three days earlier it lost on the road at Union Mine (El Dorado, Calif.) 52-36.
“Tonight we matched every basket they had, and we picked it up for the whole game,” Vikings senior Ethan Strain said. “It was about finishing tough as a team and not letting anything get to us.”
Blocker led South Tahoe with 15 points in the win —including 12 in the first half — and was one of three Vikings players in double figures. Junior Tommy Cefalu finished with 13 and Perez added 10, and STHS had eight players score at least four points.
“We have some new pieces and we’re getting chemistry,” Strain said. “This will get us started and get us where we want to go.”
Brett Cooper scored a game-high 20 points to lead Damonte Ranch, including four 3-pointers. The loss was the Mustangs’ third straight following two wins in a row — they opened the season with seven consecutive defeats.
South Tahoe returned to action at home Tuesday, Dec. 22, for a league contest against Dayton. Beginning Saturday, Dec. 26, the Vikings will play four games in five days at the San Pedro Pirate Shootout.