South Tahoe boys hoops win pair, alone in 2nd place |

South Tahoe boys hoops win pair, alone in 2nd place

South Tahoe's Ruzzell Valiente drives to the basket for the Vikings earlier this season. Valiente scored in double digits the past two games, both Viking victories.
Bill Rozak / Tahoe Daily Tribune |

Three wins in the last four games have pushed the South Tahoe boys’ basketball team into second place in the 3A Northern League.

The Vikings won on back-to-back days last week, beating rival Truckee 67-57 on Friday, Jan. 19, on the road and topping Lowry 63-52 on Saturday at home.

“We wanted the kids to show energy in the first half because we’ve been struggling with that,” said Vikings first-year head coach David Finnegan. “The kids seemed to be in a better mood and they got off to fast starts. Against Truckee, they came out hot and hit a couple of 3-pointers but our kids settled and stayed with it eventually went on an 8-0 run. Against Lowry we got out to a good lead because we ran the floor. Most kids don’t have that advantage of training at higher elevations and typically we do better in [the] third and fourth quarter. We want to run kids out of the gym.”

The Vikings enjoyed a big lead against the Wolverines, building a 23-point advantage in the fourth before Finnegan cleared his bench.

South Tahoe senior McCallan Castles led all scorers with 22 points and Ruzzell Valiente added 12 points and led the Vikings with seven rebounds. Kevin Lehmann and Cameron Johnson each added five assists.

Against Lowry, Castles led the Vikings with 15 points and Valiente had 11. Castles, Lehmann and Peyton Galli each had two assists.

The Vikings have six games remaining, the next four are on the road and they finish with two at home. Finnegan likes where his team is right now.

“We hit our slump earlier in the season, so I’m hoping we don’t have another one,” Finnegan said. “I’m hoping we gain some momentum going into the playoffs. Right now we’re playing really well. We still have three or four of the better teams left on our schedule.”

South Tahoe (9-6, 7-3 Northern) next will play on the road against Elko at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 26. The Indians (10-0 Northern) have yet to lose a league game this season. Elko defeated the Vikings 51-40 on Dec. 15 in their first meeting at South Tahoe. The Indians have won 67 straight homes games. Their last home loss came on Feb. 3, 2012.

The Vikings will face Spring Creek (5-5 Northern) on the road the next day.

“Elko is super disciplined, well coached and I don’t know when they last lost at home,” Finnegan said. “They have a home court advantage, they have a great atmosphere although I’m not sure that’s their whole advantage. But I always appreciate the atmosphere. We have to shoot and defend well. They take away our transition. They don’t typically get many offensive rebounds against us because they are trying to stop our transition. But they shoot the ball well, too. It’s always tough to win out there. We just want to give it our best shot.”

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