South Tahoe boys b-ball in 3rd after road split with Fernley, Dayton |

South Tahoe boys b-ball in 3rd after road split with Fernley, Dayton

Anthony Gentile

In a two-day span last weekend, the South Tahoe boys basketball team delivered its biggest victory of the season followed by one of its most disappointing defeats. The Vikings beat Fernley in overtime Friday, Jan. 29, before falling at Dayton the next afternoon — a road split that leaves them in third place in Div. I-A Northern League.

On Friday, South Tahoe prevailed in a wild 53-50 overtime win at Fernley. The Vikings rallied late to force the extra period and outlasted the Vaqueros to even the season series in dramatic fashion.

“It was the most intense game I’ve ever coached,” Vikings coach Joby Cefalu said. “It was really, really high-intensity.”

In a game that was tight throughout, South Tahoe trailed by four points at halftime and faced a 35-30 deficit headed into the fourth quarter. The Vikings methodically rallied to tie the game late, but appeared to be dealt a decisive blow as time expired in regulation.

South Tahoe was whistled for a foul at the buzzer, giving Fernley two chances to win the game with a pair free-throw attempts. But the Vaqueros missed both, and in overtime the Vikings capitalized on their new life for a victory — they led by as many as six points while outscoring the hosts 10-7 in the final frame.

“We came out with the momentum in the overtime period — it was back and forth, but we had control,” Cefalu said. “It was the most exciting game of the year and a very important win for us.”

Junior Tommy Cefalu led South Tahoe with 14 points on 5-of-12 shooting, and keyed the Vikings’ second-half comeback. Senior Hirshal Sukha finished with 13 points and senior Ethan Strain added 12.

“Tommy and Ethan both stepped up in the end and propelled us into overtime,” Cefalu said. “We just could never break that three-to-five-point lead they had — then down the stretch the kids really did a great job.”

For Fernley, Zach Burns scored a game-high 21 points and Drake Howe added 14. The loss was the Vaqueros’ third straight following a 6-2 start in league play.

After a dramatic victory Friday night, the Vikings were stunned at Dayton the following afternoon. South Tahoe fell to the Dust Devils 50-45 on Saturday, Jan. 30, in a surprising defeat that snapped a two-game winning streak.

“The players were physically and mentally drained from Friday night, and unfortunately that hangover carried into Saturday,” Cefalu said. “That was a tough one.”

The Vikings trailed Dayton 25-22 at halftime, and faced a one-point deficit headed into the fourth quarter. South Tahoe ultimately couldn’t close out the Dust Devils, who hung on for their second league victory of the season.

“We were really flat and couldn’t get a whole lot done,” Cefalu said. “We battled, but the ball kept dropping their way and they knocked us off.”

Tommy Cefalu led South Tahoe with 18 points and Strain scored 10. Dayton’s Josh Riders finished with a game-high 25 points on 11-of-19 shooting to help the Dust Devils avenge a 39-point loss to the Vikings in the first round of league play.

Following the split, South Tahoe (9-11, 7-4) remained in third place in the league standings — with a one-game cushion over fourth-place Fernley. The Vikings returned to action at home Tuesday, Feb. 2, against Truckee.

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