South Tahoe hoopsters gear up for shot at ninth zone title |

South Tahoe hoopsters gear up for shot at ninth zone title

David Gignilliat

Although making the playoffs is an achievement itself, it’s the ability to keep winning in the face of increasingly stiffer competition that really separates the men from the boys.

“You just can’t get on a run this time of the year and not be playing well,” said South Tahoe High boys basketball coach Tom Orlich, competing this weekend for his ninth Northern Nevada 4A zone title. The Vikings will travel to Carson High on Friday to take on Reed in the semifinals of the NIAA 4A Northern Nevada Zone tournament. “You have to play your best game each game, because every team is a quality team.”

South Tahoe played Reed in a Dec. 8 nonleague game, defeating the Raiders in a 73-62 effort in Sparks. In that game, senior guard Josh David led the Vikings with 21 points and eight rebounds as South Tahoe broke open a 31-28 halftime edge with a 21-5 run in the third quarter.

Could it be another late-game run that decides this rematch?

“It could be one big run that wins it, I don’t know,” Orlich said. “It’s hard to predict our team. You score 50 points one night and 90 points the next, so it’s tough to know.”

The Raiders have the potential to present a variety of matchup problems for the Vikings’ (22-6 overall) mid-sized lineup. Reed’s roster features 6-foot-9 Yuri Whyms, 6-8 Matt Ochs and 6-5 players Brett Hall and Jeremiah Gray. South Tahoe’s tallest player is 6-6 center Bobby Larmore, followed by David and forward Billy Doughty at 6-3.

Though the Vikings will be up against the tallest lineup they have faced all season, they can’t overlook Reed’s pair of 5-9 sparkplugs: Jay Osborne and Teddy Stolpman. The duo combined for 30 points against South Tahoe earlier in the season and scored 30 points in the Raiders 67-56 win over Reno Wednesday night.

“I think they’re probably the most talented team in the league,” Orlich said. “They have the whole package. We’re just as concerned about their backcourt as we are about their inside guys.”

The Vikings looked as impressive as they’ve been all season in Wednesday’s 90-54 win against Elko. South Tahoe showed patience, defensive hustle and a killer instinct that seemed to indicate that the aggressive team not only wanted to beat Elko, but bury them.

Orlich hesitated to place too much stock in Wednesday’s game, though.

“Quite frankly, (Wednesday’s) game means nothing when you get to Friday night’s game,” he said. “How we played tonight and how we played last Friday means nothing, because it was just Jekyll-n-Hyde the way we’ve been playing lately.”

Best game of the season?

“It’s up there but we can still do better,” said STHS guard John Giannoni III, who led the Vikings with 21 points against Elko. The win over the Indians clinched South Tahoe’s 17th consecutive appearance in the state tourney. “We don’t want to sit on this win and think we can win the rest of our games no problem. We want to come out every game and try to improve as a team.”

If South Tahoe tops the Raiders, they will play the winner of Friday afternoon’s Galena-Sparks game in the tournament finals on Saturday at 7 p.m. A loss against Reed would send the Vikings to the consolation bracket, where they would vie for third-place honors at 3:35 p.m. Saturday.

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