South Tahoe boys b-ball splits last two at Gold Dust Tournament
PLACERVILLE, Calif. — In its last two games at the Gold Dust Tournament, the South Tahoe boys basketball team delivered a lopsided victory and suffered a lopsided defeat. The Vikings beat Woodland (Calif.) on Friday before falling to Union Mine (El Dorado, Calif.) in the consolation championship game on Saturday, finishing 1-2 at the tournament hosted by El Dorado High.
“The games were all very relevant to what’s going to take place in league play and we learned a lot from it,” Vikings head coach Joby Cefalu said. “Our future is bright.”
After losing its tournament opener in double overtime to host El Dorado last Thursday, South Tahoe bounced back with a 64-40 win over Woodland the following day. The Vikings took a little bit to settle in against the Wolves’ 2-3 zone defense, and rolled to victory once their offense got into a rhythm.
“That game was a good hurdle for us — they tried to change the momentum of our game and our kids adjusted well to it,” Cefalu said. ‘The slower pace game is not something that we’re afraid of — if somebody wants to slow us down, we’ll be patient.”
South Tahoe struggled offensively in the first quarter against Woodland, and had a 9-3 lead after the first frame on the strength of its defense. In the second quarter, the Vikings broke the game open en route to a 24-point win — STHS shot 44 percent from the field in the victory.
“I think we’re going to see that a lot, where teams slow us down, zone us and make us do things that we don’t want to do,” Cefalu said. “I was very impressed with the team making those adjustments in the game — we like to play, and we’re going to have to make those adjustments.”
Forward Tyler Hogbin led South Tahoe with 26 points in the victory — he also had seven offensive rebounds, and a majority of his baskets came from cleaning up misses. Forward Stone Merkley added 10 points, and frontcourt players Matt Herring and Joe Albrecht delivered solid performances.
In the consolation championship game, South Tahoe simply ran out of steam in an 80-55 loss to Union Mine. The Vikings trailed the Diamondbacks by 18 at halftime on the way to their largest defeat of the season.
“We got punched in the mouth by Union Mine — but it isn’t anything that we can’t handle in the future,” Cefalu said. “We really had an off night and they had a great night — the outcome wasn’t what we were hoping for.”
Union Mine shot 54 percent in the victory, and had three players score in double figures. Guard Bradley Brittain shot 7-for-11 from three-point range and scored a game-high 27 points.
“We came into the game, thought that we should win — and the boys learned a lesson,” Cefalu said. “They played a good game, their shooters hit shots, we weren’t matching those shots — and it showed on the scoreboard.”
Guard Harry Moses-Chakmakis led South Tahoe with 13 points in the loss, Merkley scored nine, guard Denzel Perez added seven, David finished with seven and Hogbin had five. South Tahoe will face Union Mine again this season in a nonleague contest at home on Jan. 8.
“We never really had control of the game and were fighting an uphill battle the whole night,” Cefalu said. “The team had a good game plan and we didn’t adjust very well to it.”
After the tournament, the Vikings voted for the team’s all-tournament performer — and unanimously selected sophomore Bailey Johnson. Johnson, a multiple-time cancer survivor, is South Tahoe’s team manager this season.
“He’s a great kid that his been there with us — he’s very inspirational to our team,” Cefalu said. “He’s had more adversity in his lifetime than most people do in their entire lives — he’s overcome it, he has a great attitude and he’s the heart and soul of our team.”
South Tahoe takes a 2-2 record into its Div. I-A Northern League opener at Truckee on Friday night at 7:30 p.m. The Wolverines beat North Tahoe in their season opener and played Bear River (Grass Valley, Calif.) on Tuesday night — last season, Truckee finished at the bottom of the league standings.
“We’re going to change things — we’re the same team, but we’re going to throw a lot of different things at Truckee and see how they handle them,” Cefalu said. “It’s going to be interesting to see how they adjust to our changes — we’re going to do things that are going to make us have to execute.
“We’re getting into league play now, and there’s not an easy team in the I-A field.”