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South Tahoe downs Elko

Michael Traum

The Vikings are state-bound for the 16th straight time.

South Tahoe High’s boys basketball team overcame a sluggish first quarter to pound Elko, 85-47, in the first round of the Northern Nevada zone tournament on Tuesday in South Lake Tahoe. The Vikings (25-4) have represented the North at the state tournament every year since entering the league in 1982-83.

“It’s important. Last year, we didn’t exactly fulfill the tradition. But this year we got the league title back and were going to state again,” said Tahoe senior guard Aaron Buckman.

Neither team took control in a sloppy first quarter. Tahoe jumped up 9-4 on a Buckman trey and trio of layups by Casey Dowling, Travis McCollum and Alan Case. But the Indians battled back with a 5-0 run to take their only lead. Tahoe’s own five-point run put it up 16-11 after eight minutes. The teams combined for 14 turnovers in the frame.

“We dropped the ball or threw it too hard. We just didn’t take care of it. Maybe we were going too fast. And there were times we burped up shots early in the game that weren’t good shots,” said Tahoe coach Tom Orlich. “But we settled down, regained the lead and took better shots. We thought defensively and took command.”

Elko climbed to within two points on a Sean Paul layup with 5:10 to go in the second. But the Vikes quickly dealt the Indians a defensive-led 14-0 run, started by a Buckman bomb from the half moon and capped by a Greg Bruso layup with 2:05 left. An acrobatic move at the buzzer solidified the Vikes’ control, as Adam Williams caught a floor-length pass from Dowling in midair and banked it home with .6-seconds on the clock. Tahoe was in total command at the break, 43-22.

“We played a good first quarter and then started throwing it away. We hurt ourselves and they took advantage,” said Elko coach Chris Klekas. “Sure we’re disappointed. We concentrated the first quarter and then fell apart. It was more us than them.”

But Klekas was also quick to point out Tahoe’s dominance.

“We have two good teams in the North. It’s Tahoe, Galena, and then everybody else. They’ll represent the North well.”

The Vikings outscored Elko 22-12 in the third quarter and, with both teams playing reserves, won the fourth frame, 20-13.

“We handled their pressure and they played hard. They get all the props,” said Buckman, invoking teen-age vernacular to describe Elko’s good effort.

Buckman led the way with 17, while Case added 14. McCollum and Dowling each had 10 and Bruso tossed in nine.

Elko’s Paul had a team-high 10 points, all on layups. Klekas refused to let the 6-9 sophomore comment after the game.

Tahoe outrebounded Elko, 28-25, while committing 16 turnovers to Elko’s 32.

It was a must-win for the Vikings, who hosted a Nevada zone playoff game for the first time in school history. In the tournament format, a loss would’ve sent Tahoe home for the season.

“Elko is a proud team and wasn’t going to back off. We were just able to catch them in a dry spell in the second quarter and it was contagious for them,” said Orlich, who pushed his 23-year Tahoe coaching record to 469-167. “It’s playoff time and time to play well. We’re very pleased with everything we’ve achieved so far this year.”

The Vikes next face Sparks, a five-point winner over Douglas, on Friday at 7 p.m. at Reed High.

In other Northern Nevada 4A playoff action Tuesday, it was Galena over Wooster, 102-67, and Reno over Reed, 71-59.

In Southern 4A action: Las Vegas 55, Gorman 53; Valley 78, Western 60; Cheyenne 63, Chaparral 62; and Green Valley 64, Cimarron 61.

Tahoe Daily Tribune E-mail: tribune@tahoe.com

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