STHS boys lose league open
The trifecta treated South Tahoe High well throughout its Sierra Division boys basketball opener with Wooster on Friday night. But when it really counted, the Vikings couldn’t buy the risky 3-point shot.
An unkind rim kicked out three Viking attempts from the beyond the arc in the final 54 seconds as Wooster held on for a 53-48 road victory.
“We’re very fortunate they didn’t hit one of those,” said Wooster coach Torrey Sheets. “We work on boxing out like everybody else, but when you’ve got a shot coming from long range, it can go anywhere. That’s a tough rebound to get. “
Some clutch foul shooting by one of Wooster’s younger players put Wooster in position for the win. Guard Julian Hatcher calmly made two free throws with 54.1 seconds remaining to put Wooster ahead 51-48.
“He’s a sophomore, but I want him there,” Sheets said. “For a sophomore to step up at the line in that situation, it speaks volumes of his composure.”
Vikings senior guard Matt Connelly, who didn’t enter the game until the fourth period, had two chances to tie the game but each 3-point attempt missed the mark. However, the Vikings retrieved its second offensive rebound on the possession and called time-out to set up the game-tying attempt.
But like his first two tries, Connelly’s shot found too much of the rim, and Wooster gathered in the rebound this time. The Colts pushed the ball up the floor, avoiding the foul-conscious Vikings, and 6-foot-4 junior J.J. Milan punctuated Wooster’s rare win at STHS on a dunk with 1 second left.
“You have to hand it to Wooster, they did a great job defending our last play,” said Vikings coach Derek Allister.
South Tahoe led for most of the second half until Hatcher’s 10-foot jumper put Wooster ahead 42-41 early in the fourth period.
“I thought in the second half when we started easing away that we had a chance, but I was always uneasy because we weren’t clicking,” Allister said. “I’m disappointed because down in San Diego we had been playing better.”
Matt Mora’s third 3-pointer returned the lead to STHS, 44-42, with 6:00 to go, but Wooster kept the pressure on with Hatcher’s penetration and by controlling the glass.
After Milan and Clint Joaquin traded buckets, the Vikings’ Erick Cappellino drilled an open 8-foot jump shot for a 48-47 Viking lead with 3:01 left. But two close-range misses and a turnover gave Wooster enough chances to retake the lead.
“We can’t give away that much and win,” Allister said. “You have to be an awful lot better team to do that, and we’re not.”
Hatcher took advantage of the Vikings’ late-game mistakes.
First, he hit a running shot in the key and then nailed two clutch free throws to put the Colts ahead 51-48.
“In the first half he wasn’t finishing the plays and the second half he was, and it was tough. (Hatcher) is hard to guard,” Allister said.
Hatcher fought through a tough shooting night to score 15 points, and likes the Colts’ outlook for the remainder of the season following a 2-9 start.
“We were trying to start the season off with a bang. It’s a new era, so the only thing in our minds was to win,” Hatcher said.
A foul-plagued Milan scored most of his points in the second half and led the Colts with 16.
Mora and Cappellino were the only Vikings in double figures. Mora, using a soft touch from the perimeter, scored 13 points, and Cappellino hit five buckets to score 12 points.
League play doesn’t get any easier for the Vikings, 6-11 overall, this week as they play at division favorite Reno on Tuesday and at Hug on Friday.
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