South Tahoe boys b-ball holds off rival Truckee 59-54
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — The South Tahoe boys basketball team didn’t earn any style points Tuesday, Feb. 2, but survived against its cross-lake rival. The Vikings beat Truckee 59-54 at the Blue Gym, holding off an upset bid from the Wolverines to complete a season sweep.
Despite the victory, South Tahoe wasn’t entirely pleased with its performance. After beating Truckee by 28 points in the first round of league play, a single-digit win at home in the rematch Tuesday left Vikings’ players in a somber mood.
“That was horrible,” Vikings senior Hirshal Sukha said. “I think that was the worst game of our year.”
South Tahoe (10-11, 8-4 I-A Northern) closed the first quarter with seven straight points to take a 14-8 lead. The Vikings didn’t trail the rest of the way, but it wasn’t as straightforward as they would have liked against Truckee (2-18, 0-12).
The Vikings held an eight-point advantage at halftime, and led 45-37 following an even third quarter. South Tahoe opened up an 11-point lead early in the fourth quarter on a free throw from junior Tommy Cefalu, but Truckee simply didn’t go away.
A steal and layup from senior Ethan Strain put South Tahoe ahead 51-42 with 2:55 left. The Wolverines then cut the gap with a 7-1 run, pulling within three on a 3-pointer from sophomore Gabe Cruz with 1:20 to play.
With the pressure on, the Vikings closed out the victory from the free-throw line. Strain and Sukha went 7-for-8 from the charity stripe in the last 1:08 to keep South Tahoe in front of the Wolverines, and Sukha’s pair with 11 seconds left secured a gritty victory for the hosts.
“We needed the win after losing our last game,” Strain said. “We have to come out better than that, or we’re not going to beat any other team in the league.”
Strain led all scorers with 18 points in the win, including a 10-for-13 effort from the foul line. Cefalu finished with 10 and junior Zen Contestable scored nine while Sukha and senior Blake Blocker each added seven.
Senior Jenner Tresan led Truckee with 15 points in the loss, finishing in double figures along with Cruz (14 points) and senior Kevin Cross (13). The Wolverines hit nine 3-pointers in defeat.
“It’s about picking up the team in practice,” Sukha said. “The last three practices we’ve been down and tired and sore, and we need to pick it back up.”
South Tahoe returns to action Friday, Feb. 5, at Lowry. The Vikings host Sparks at the Blue Gym on Saturday, Feb. 6 — tipoff is scheduled for 2:30 p.m.