South Tahoe boys b-ball splits with Spring Creek, Elko to finish first round |

South Tahoe boys b-ball splits with Spring Creek, Elko to finish first round

Anthony Gentile
South Tahoe senior Blake Blocker dispatches a Spring Creek defender on the way to a layup in the Vikings’ league contest against the Spartans on Friday, Jan. 22, at the Blue Gym.
Anthony Gentile / Tahoe Daily Tribune |

Div. I-A Northern Standings

Team League Overall

Elko 8-0 13-3

Lowry 8-1 12-7

Fernley 6-3 10-6

South Tahoe 5-3 8-10

Fallon 5-5 8-11

Sparks 4-5 5-11

Spring Creek 2-6 7-11

Dayton 1-7 4-12

Truckee 0-9 2-15

Records through Jan. 25

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — Halfway through its Div. I-A Northern League schedule, the South Tahoe boys basketball team is firmly in position for a postseason return. The Vikings split with Spring Creek and Elko at the Blue Gym last weekend, Jan. 22-23, to conclude the first round of league play in fourth place.

“We want to keep it going,” Vikings senior Blake Blocker said.

South Tahoe (8-10, 5-3 I-A Northern) absorbed a hot start from Spring Creek on Friday, Jan. 22, before rolling to victory. The Vikings beat the Spartans 68-44, and erased an early eight-point deficit by dominating the last three quarters.

“We picked it up defensively and worked more as a team in the second half,” Vikings junior Harry Moses-Chakmakis said. “We really separated ourselves in the second half.”

Spring Creek (6-11, 1-6) came out hot, and put the Vikings in a 23-15 hole after the opening frame. Once the visitors cooled off, South Tahoe settled in defensively and quickly took control.

“Our defense wasn’t in their face as much as we wanted it to be,” Vikings junior Tommy Cefalu said. We haven’t run zone that much this year, and we’re still working on it.”

The Vikings opened the second quarter with six straight points, and made it 23-21 on a layup from senior Joe Albrecht with 5:19 left in the half. South Tahoe still trailed late in the second, but pulled even when junior Zen Contestable scored a pair of buckets six seconds apart —his layup following a steal with nine seconds left tied the game at 30.

“They were hot in the first quarter, but we weren’t really worried about it too much,” Blocker said.

In the third quarter, South Tahoe held Spring Creek to one field goal while pulling away. The Vikings opened the frame on a 13-2 run and had a 51-35 lead after stifling the Spartans and running past them in transition — the visitors’ only field goal came with 6:14 left in the frame.

Spring Creek opened the scoring with a 3-pointer 19 seconds into the fourth quarter, then South Tahoe limited the Spartans to five points — all from the free-throw line — the rest of the way. The Vikings punctuated the 24-point win by scoring the game’s last seven points.

“Our transition and ball movement got us the lead and kept it there,” Cefalu said.

Blocker led South Tahoe with 21 points Friday, including 16 in the second half. Moses-Chakmakis finished with 19 and senior Ethan Strain added eight — the Vikings routinely went inside against the smaller Spartans.

“We definitely worked in the post a little bit more than usual and found our big man Joe,” Blocker said. “We worked it down low and used our size to our advantage.”

For Spring Creek, Cooper Cavaness scored 18 points and Ryan Knudsen added 10. After scoring 23 points in the first quarter, the Spartans totaled 21 in the last three frames.

On Saturday, Jan. 23, South Tahoe played evenly against league-leading Elko before ultimately falling short. The Vikings lost to the Indians 70-59, unable to hand the visitors their first loss in league play despite a strong performance.

South Tahoe trailed the Indians 14-10 after a back-and-forth opening quarter, with 3-pointers from Moses-Chakmakis and Blocker pacing the Vikings. Elko (13-3, 8-0) stayed in front the hosts in the second quarter, and closed the first half on a 7-1 run to take a 10-point lead into the break.

The Vikings opened the second half on a 10-3 run, and cut Elko’s lead to 30-27 on a layup from Albrecht with 3:31 left in the third quarter. But the Indians answered with an 11-3 spurt to stretch their lead back to double digits — a 3-pointer from Blocker at the third-quarter buzzer kept the Vikings within seven.

South Tahoe stayed with Elko early in the fourth quarter, but could never get closer than eight points. Junior Noah Jackson capped a 7-0 Vikings run with a three-point play with 4:11 left, but the Indians answered with seven straight points to effectively put the game out of reach — the teams combined for 31 free-throw attempts over the last 3:38.

Blocker scored a game-high 21 points in the loss, Moses-Chakmakis had 13 and Jackson added 10. Kyrin Allen led Elko with 20 points, Baum scored 16 and Eric Klekas finished with 11.

Midway through league play, South Tahoe is in fourth place in the Div. I-A Northern standings. The Vikings are three games clear of seventh-place Spring Creek, with the top six teams making the playoffs — STHS has missed out on the postseason each of the last two years.

South Tahoe opened the second round of league play at Fallon on Tuesday, Jan. 26. That contest started a stretch of three straight road games — the Vikings play at Fernley on Friday, Jan. 29 and travel to Dayton on Saturday, Jan. 30.

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