South Tahoe boys b-ball makes home debut, splits with Elko and Spring Creek
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — The South Tahoe boys basketball team waited a month-and-a-half for its regular season home debut — and made it worth the wait. The Vikings beat Spring Creek 65-38 last Saturday for their first home win, a day after losing to Elko in a contest that ended a stretch of 10 straight road games to begin their 2014-15 campaign.
“This was so important for us,” Vikings guard Chase Waterman said. “Getting this one was definitely big, especially since we’re at home — we don’t want people coming here and beating us on our home turf.”
South Tahoe (5-7, 2-2 I-A Northern) rode a fast start to a 27-point win over Spring Creek (5-6, 3-1), bouncing back from a loss to deliver its most decisive victory of the season. The Vikings started fast against the Spartans while ending a four-game losing streak.
“We just had to stay together as a team — it was a tough loss the day before and we were all super tired,” Waterman said. “We had a team breakfast in the morning and we were all talking about it — we just knew we had to step up our game and finish all four quarters.”
The Vikings won the opening tap and turned the first possession of Saturday’s game into points — a layup by forward Tyler Hogbin. South Tahoe scored the first four points of the contest and had an 11-3 lead late in the opening frame — the Vikings led by five after the first quarter.
“It’s important for us to start off fast — we do so much running in practice and condition so much that we want to get out and run,” Waterman said.
In the second quarter, South Tahoe broke the game open with 11 straight points capped by back-to-back transition layups from Hogbin and forward Matt Herring. That run put the Vikings ahead 29-12 with 2:32 left in the half, and STHS took a 16-point lead into the break after Hogbin made a putback just before the buzzer.
“We talked in pregame about getting good shots — not settling for jump shots and trying to get the ball inside,” Vikings assistant coach Kirk David said.
After halftime, the Vikings looked to maintain that healthy advantage by slowing the game down to use more clock. South Tahoe had a 50-33 lead after an even third quarter, and iced the game in the final frame with offensive execution and stifling defense.
“In the fourth quarter we came together and focused on stretching out possessions — we knew they were going to trap, so we had to be strong with the ball and get open for our teammates,” Waterman said.
South Tahoe scored the first 13 points of the fourth quarter to take a commanding lead — the first five field goals of that run came in the paint. Defensively, the Vikings held Spring Creek scoreless for the opening 6:39 of the fourth — late baskets by guard Aaron Pfister and forward Ethan Strain added an exclamation point to STHS’ blowout victory.
“This was a huge game for us mentally — we needed to have a positive result,” Kirk David said.
Hogbin scored a game-high 15 points and grabbed nine rebounds in the win — guard Kirby David also scored in double figures with 11. Forward Stone Merkley had eight, Waterman and guard Harry Moses-Chakmakis each added seven, and guard Denzel Perez scored six — Herring totaled six points and seven rebounds.
“Matt was a huge factor for us today — he got a lot more minutes than he had been getting,” Kirk David said.
For Spring Creek, guard Caden Gunnell led the way with 11 points and forward Clint Rider added seven. The Spartans came into Saturday’s game unbeaten in league play with wins over Fallon, Fernley and Dayton.
In its home debut last Friday night, South Tahoe had the occasion spoiled by visiting Elko. The Vikings had a one-point lead at halftime before the defending league champion Indians took control in the second half, sending STHS to a 64-43 loss.
“We kind of dropped off after halftime,” Waterman said.
South Tahoe had a 15-11 lead over Elko after the first quarter, jumping in front with a pair of Perez three-pointers in the last 47 seconds of the period. The Vikings took a one-point lead at halftime on a runner from guard Tommy Cefalu at the buzzer — Cefalu’s basket marked the sixth lead change of the quarter.
Elko scored the first eight points of the second half to quickly build a 34-27 lead, a run answered with back-to-back fast break layups by Kirby David. South Tahoe couldn’t get closer than three points for the rest of the quarter, and the Indians’ lead ballooned to nine headed into the final frame.
The Vikings trailed by no less than nine in the fourth quarter as Elko pulled away for an eventual 21-point win. The Indians won at Dayton the following day to remain unbeaten in their first four league games.
Perez led South Tahoe with 10 points in Friday’s loss, Merkley finished with nine and Kirby David added eight. For Elko, guard Marshall Dumas scored a game-high 20 points and guard Nathan Klekas finished with 16.
Over the holiday break, South Tahoe went 1-3 at the San Pedro Pirate Shootout in Los Angeles Dec. 26-30 against CIF Southern and Los Angeles City section opposition. The Vikings beat Executive Preparatory Academy of Finance (Hawthorne, Calif.) 56-43 in the first round before losing to Gardena (Calif.) 56-39, Morningside (Inglewood, Calif.) 76-62 and South Gate (Calif.) 68-49.
“The competition down there is strong — they’re very athletic,” Kirk David said. “It was about getting confidence and not being afraid to play against anybody.”
South Tahoe returned to action Tuesday night in a league game against Dayton, the first of three home games in a five-day span. The Vikings face Union Mine (El Dorado, Calif.) Thursday at 7:30 p.m. — a rematch of a game from the Gold Dust Tournament — and host Fernley Saturday at 2:30 p.m.
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