South Tahoe boys b-ball outlasts Sparks 57-55 in double OT thriller
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — In its last home game of the season, the South Tahoe boys basketball team won a thriller. The Vikings beat Sparks 57-55 in double overtime at the Blue Gym on Saturday, Feb. 6, outlasting the Railroaders for a dramatic victory.
“It was a great win,” Vikings coach Joby Cefalu said. “It brought a lot of confidence to the team and brought the team closer together — it was really special.”
In a back and forth contest, South Tahoe (11-12, 9-5 I-A Northern) held a 38-30 lead headed into the fourth quarter. But Sparks (6-14, 5-8) rallied behind its 3-point shooting — the visitors made 10 total — to extend the game beyond regulation.
“Sparks is a good shooting team, and we had to battle throughout the game,” Cefalu said. “They couldn’t miss — we got hands in their faces and they still couldn’t miss.”
The Vikings were outscored 17-9 in the fourth quarter, and made it to overtime only after the Railroaders missed free throws down the stretch. In the first extra period, South Tahoe had a three-point lead with six seconds left — but a turnover and a Sparks 3-pointer tied the game and forced a second overtime.
“We had every opportunity to win it in that first overtime,” Cefalu said.
Both teams combined for six points in double overtime, and South Tahoe ultimately outlasted the Railroaders. The Vikings held the ball for nearly two minutes in the second overtime period, and prevailed when junior Tommy Cefalu sank two free throws with 3.3 seconds left — Sparks didn’t get off a shot afterward, allowing the hosts to escape with a win.
“This group of boys plays their hearts out,” Cefalu said.
Senior Blake Blocker led South Tahoe with 11 points and seven rebounds, and senior Ethan Strain added 10 points and seven boards. Senior Denzel Perez had eight points and five assists, Cefalu finished with six points and 11 rebounds, and senior Joe Albrecht added six points and nine boards.
For Sparks, seniors Ricky Guadron and Danny Lopez each scored a game-high 18 points. The Railroaders have made double-digit 3-pointers in three games this season — including 12 in their first meeting with South Tahoe.
On Friday, Feb. 5, South Tahoe suffered a 53-38 loss at Lowry. The Vikings matched the Buckaroos for three-and-a-half quarters before the hosts pulled away.
“We had a specific mindset,” Cefalu said. “We wanted to win the game, and it was extremely close — we definitely gave them all they could handle.”
Blocker led the Vikings with 11 points and eight rebounds against Lowry, and Cefalu added eight points, nine rebounds and five assists. Friday’s game marked a return to the court for Perez and junior Harry Moses-Chakmakis, who had each missed time due to injuries.
South Tahoe has clinched a postseason berth, and it will finish either third or fourth in Div. I-A Northern League. The Vikings play at Spring Creek on Friday, Feb. 12, and conclude the regular season at Elko on Saturday, Feb. 13 — a win in either game or a loss from Fernley in its final two games would secure the three seed for STHS.
“We’ve been playing in the playoffs for the last two weeks,” Cefalu said. “We have to go out, execute what we’ve worked on and do the things we have to do to get to the playoffs and make a run.”