South Tahoe girls b-ball comes up just short against Fernley, falls 44-42 in league opener
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — The South Tahoe girls basketball team never had complete control of its 3A Northern League opener Tuesday, Dec. 6. And ultimately, it resulted in a narrow loss.
The Vikings fell to Fernley 44-42 at the Blue Gym on Tuesday night. The Vaqueros blocked a potential game-tying shot from senior Drue Chapman in the final seconds, sending South Tahoe to a narrow defeat in its home debut.
“They’re going to remember this one — hopefully they use it in a positive way moving forward,” Vikings coach Mike Neiger said. “I liked what I saw, but this is how league is going to be.”
After an even opening frame, South Tahoe (1-3, 0-1 3A Northern) opened the second quarter on an 8-2 run, and took an 18-12 lead on a free throw from junior Bailey Segers with 5:04 left. The Vikings’ full-court press sparked the spurt, leading to easy baskets and helping the team get in an offensive rhythm.
“I liked some of our offensive plays in the first quarter,” Neiger said. “We came out running our game and there was good energy with the press.”
After taking what would be its biggest lead of the game, South Tahoe was held without a field goal for the rest of the first half. Fernley (2-2, 1-0) took advantage, rallying to take a 21-20 lead into the break.
The Vaqueros stretched that advantage to 27-22 midway through the third quarter before South Tahoe responded. The Vikings chipped away at the narrow deficit, and a transition jumper from senior Claudia Janese with 10 seconds left in the quarter made it 29-28 — setting up a tight finish.
Both teams appeared to grab control of the contest in the fourth quarter, but neither could. After Fernley opened up a 42-37 lead with 3:12 to play, South Tahoe reeled off five straight points to tie the game.
With 1:53 left, senior Maia Smith sunk a pair of free throws to make it 42-42. Unfortunately for the Vikings, those would be their last points of the game.
Fernley turned two trips to the line in the final minute into two points, and held a two-point lead with 18.0 seconds left. Trailing 44-42 with 11.7 seconds remaining, South Tahoe called timeout to set up a play.
With the ball at the top of the key after the timeout, Chapman called “Mustang” — but the play never materialized. The senior was instead forced to put up a contested shot that Fernley blocked to end the game.
“We hadn’t called that play all game, and thought we would throw something different at them,” Neiger said. “In all the excitement, they never got the play set up.”
Chapman led South Tahoe with a game-high 12 points in the loss. Smith finished with 10 points — including an 8-for-10 effort from the free-throw line — and Janese added seven points.
“It’s going to be a good learning experience,” Neiger said of the loss. “There’s plenty of league left to be played.”
For Fernley, senior Grace DeLeon and sophomore Brittney Gaitan led a balanced attack with 10 points apiece. Senior Hailee Edgar and freshman Celeste Condie added eight points each for the Vaqueros.
South Tahoe returns to action Friday, Dec. 9, with a nonleague game against Douglas (Minden, Nev.) at home. Tipoff in the Blue Gym is scheduled for 6 p.m.