South Tahoe boys b-ball finishes third in Div. I-A Northern League, opens postseason against Spring Creek
The South Tahoe boys basketball team didn’t end the regular season the way it wanted, but ultimately finished where it wanted. The Vikings finished third in the final Div. I-A Northern League standings, qualifying for the playoffs in a favorable position despite losses at Spring Creek and Elko last weekend, Feb. 12-13.
South Tahoe (12-14, 9-7 I-A Northern) secured third based on a tiebreaker with Fernley. The Vaqueros’ loss at Sparks on Friday, Feb. 12, kept the Vikings in that spot even after a pair of road losses.
“It woke the kids up to where we’re at and what we have to do to compete down the stretch,” Cefalu said. “Between injuries, illnesses and all we’ve had to go through, the fact that we got the three seed makes me as happy as can be.”
On Friday, the Vikings fell at Spring Creek 48-39. Offensive struggles haunted South Tahoe in a nine-point loss to the Spartans, who it will meet in the first round of the Div. I-A Northern League Tournament.
“Spring Creek was a big game for us,” Cefalu said. “We absolutely couldn’t do anything offensively and didn’t play great defensively.”
South Tahoe led 15-11 after a low-scoring first half, and had a two-point lead entering the fourth quarter. But the Vikings were outscored 20-9 by Spring Creek in the final frame to snap a four-game winning streak against the Spartans.
Junior Harry Moses-Chakmakis led the Vikings with 10 points Friday, and was the only South Tahoe player in double figures. Senior Blake Blocker added eight points and 10 rebounds while junior Tommy Cefalu finished with seven points, eight rebounds, four assists and four steals.
With the third seed secured, South Tahoe played its starters for one quarter in its regular season finale at Elko on Saturday, Feb. 13. The Vikings trailed by three after the opening frame, before eventually falling to the league champion Indians 78-49.
“It was a good start to the game and we competed with them,” Cefalu said. “Then their three top players played phenomenally.”
Senior Denzel Perez led South Tahoe with nine points in the loss and Moses-Chakmakis added eight. Junior Garret Harley scored seven points and Cefalu totaled six points and eight rebounds.
“Denzel is getting his stroke back, Harry is where we want him to be, Blake is where we want him to be, and Tommy and some of the kids that carried us through the injuries are ready to go,” Cefalu said. “They’re going to be ready for Thursday.”
Third-seeded South Tahoe opens the postseason against sixth-seeded Spring Creek in the quarterfinals Thursday, Feb. 18, at North Valleys (Reno, Nev.) — tipoff is at 4:40 p.m. The Vikings and Spartans split their two regular season meetings, with the home team winning each time.
“We’ll take it one game at a time, do our best and try to take down Spring Creek,” Cefalu said. “If we can control the boards like we should and control tempo like we should, I think we can have a successful game against them.”
Fourth-seeded Fernley (13-10) faces fifth-seeded Fallon (10-15) at 8 p.m. in Thursday’s other quarterfinal. The winners meet top-seeded Elko (21-3) and second-seeded Lowry in the semifinals Friday, Feb. 19. If South Tahoe wins, it will play the Bucakroos at 4:40 p.m.
The championship game is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 20, at 2 p.m. Each of the finalists will earn a berth in the Div. I-A State tournament the following weekend.
“Anybody in the playoffs right now can knock off Elko and Lowry,” Cefalu said. “Those two teams have definitely been the powerhouses in the league for the last couple of years, but the parity is showing.”