South Tahoe boys b-ball loses to Fallon, falls short of postseason |

South Tahoe boys b-ball loses to Fallon, falls short of postseason

Anthony Gentile
South Tahoe forward Stone Merkley squeezes between Fallon defenders Taylon Cordes (left) and Dylan Ridenour (right) in the Vikings’ 60-44 loss to the Greenwave Saturday at STHS Blue Gym.
Anthony Gentile / Tahoe Daily Tribune |

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — The South Tahoe boys basketball team met Fallon in a winner-take-all season finale for the last playoff spot in Div. I-A Northern League on Saturday — and couldn’t avoid a season-ending defeat. The Vikings lost to the Greenwave 60-44 at STHS Blue Gym, a result that left them one win short of the postseason.

“We feel really bad for our seniors as Churchill County was a beatable team,” Vikings head coach Joby Cefalu said. “It was a tough loss, but the true character of the team showed in our elimination game.”

South Tahoe (13-12, 9-7 I-A Northern) trailed by one after an even first half, and took a 23-20 lead early in the third quarter after guard Denzel Perez hit a pair of three-pointers. Midway through the frame, the Vikings opened up a four-point advantage — their biggest of the game — when guards Kirby David and Harry Moses-Chakmakis make baskets 12 seconds apart.

Fallon (13-12, 10-6) answered by scoring seven straight points to take a 32-29 lead with 1:55 left in the quarter. The Vikings responded with five consecutive points to retake the lead — but Greenwave guard Marshall Coverston converted a layup at the buzzer to make it 34-34 headed into the fourth quarter.

“It was a tough loss, but the true character of the team showed in our elimination game.”Joby CefaluVikings head coach

The game seemed headed for a tight finish, but Fallon instead quickly seized control. The Greenwave scored the first seven points of the fourth quarter and stayed in front the rest of the way — after the run, South Tahoe didn’t get closer than five points.

“Unfortunately we couldn’t put runs together or match baskets,” Cefalu said.

A pair of free throws from Vikings forward Tyler Hogbin made it 50-44 with 2:18 left to play, and South Tahoe forced a turnover on the next possession. But STHS missed two shots on the next trip down the floor, and didn’t score after that — Fallon scored 10 unanswered points in the last 1:27 to win the game going away.

South Tahoe stayed close in the first half despite a less-than-ideal start — the Vikings had trouble cracking Fallon’s 1-3-1 zone early, and trailed 8-2 midway through the first quarter. STHS made the score 8-5 by the end of the opening frame, and matched the Greenwave in the second quarter — a Perez three-point play with 29 seconds left in the half made it 18-17.

For the Vikings, the loss brought and end to their 2014-15 season. Fallon advances to face top-seeded Elko in the semifinals of the Div. I-A Northern Region tournament Friday.

Perez led South Tahoe with 15 points in the loss — including four three-pointers. Forward Stone Merkley added 13 points and a team-high eight rebounds, David finished with seven points, six rebounds and six assists, while Hogbin had six points.

For Fallon, forward Jeff Evett scored a game-high 21 points while anchoring the team’s defensive zone. Forward Clay Davison finished with 13 points and guard Ettore Niederauer added 10.

South Tahoe won four straight games to set up its winner-take-all season finale against Fallon, but wasn’t able to win a fifth to keep its campaign alive. For the Vikings, a second straight season ended in a painfully familiar place — one game behind the Greenwave for the league’s last playoff spot.

“I am very proud of this year’s team,” Cefalu said. “We improved from last year and hope to improve over the next offseason.”

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