South Tahoe boys’ basketball team starts season with new head coach
The South Tahoe Vikings boys’ basketball team is four games into the 2017-18 campaign and is trying to get up to speed under new head coach David Finnegan and assistant John McGill.
The Vikings lost their opener to host Reno 63-49 on Nov. 29 but bounced back the very next day with a 61-58 victory over El Camino in the first round of the Jack Scott Tournament at Rio Americano High School in Sacramento.
They lost their final two games of the tournament, 86-65 against Del Campo and 62-57 vs. Ponderosa.
Kevin Lehman scored 21 points to lead the Vikings against Reno while Mccallan Castles added 11. The two flip-flopped the next day against El Camino with Castles dropping 21 points, including three 3-pointers, and Lehman adding 16, including four from beyond the arc.
Russell Valiente chipped in 10 points, Cameron Johnson had seven and Caleb Moretti scored five in the victory.
“Our first game against Reno was a tough loss,” said Finnegan, who was a Vikings assistant for the last three years under head coach Joby Cefalu. “We had trouble breaking the 2-2-1 press. We gave up 40 points in the first half and once we figured out how to beat the press, we only gave up 23 in the second half. They didn’t take out their starters it just took time for us to figure it out.
“Against El Camino, once we got Calli (Castles) in the post it changed the game for us. They started double and triple teaming him and we started to kick it out and hit 3- pointers. Del Campo, who has a very strong football program, we got to within four points in the third quarter and then our two top scorers Calli and Kevin both got their fourth fouls and they had to come out and that was basically the ball game. But the kids played tough and gave it all they had.”
Finnegan takes over a team that suffered a disappointing loss last year to Fernley in the first round of the playoffs. The Vikings had previously beaten Fernley twice in the regular season. The Vikings two years ago won the Northern Region title but fell in the Nevada State semifinals.
Finnegan graduated from Hughson High School near Turlock in Northern California. He played hoops for the Huskies before attending Fresno State. After graduating college, he taught and coached at Tranquility High School where he won a division V Central Section championship in his first year as head coach.
“It was a pleasure coaching with Joby and he figured out a way to keep me on,” Finnegan said.
McGill is a retired transplant from Santa Rosa where he coached at the division I school for 15 years.
The Vikings (1-3) next will jump right into 3A Northern League play Saturday, Dec. 9, against Lowry in Winnemucca, Nevada.
They will host their first home game at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 12, against rival Truckee.