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STHS opens state with Cheyenne Thursday

Michael Traum and Steve Yingling

South Tahoe High didn’t get the opening-round draw it wanted for this week’s Nevada 4A state boys basketball tournament.

The Vikings (26-5) meet Cheyenne (18-8) in a quarterfinal matchup at 5 p.m. Thursday at Hug High in Reno. The Desert Shields won the Sunset League title in Las Vegas, but were upset by Valley in the Southern Nevada zone semifinals on Friday. Valley bounced back to finish third at zone, beating Green Valley, 68-63.

“We’re gonna have to play one of the better teams in the South. We haven’t won at state since 1992, so we’re going to have to turn it around,” said Viking coach Tom Orlich, who has guided South Tahoe to the state tournament for the 16th straight season.

The Vikings, the Northern Nevada League Division II champions, lost to Galena, 64-62, in overtime in the zone finals on Saturday in Reno. Despite coming off a game where the Vikings didn’t execute well offensively, Orlich is confident his Vikings can perform well at state.

“If Galena is capable of winning it, we’re capable of winning it,” Orlich said.

Galena coach Tom Maurer, whose team will meet other Las Vegas-area division winner, Green Valley, said he looks forward to trading information with territorial friend South Tahoe.

“The ironic thing is that we both open up with the No. 1 teams from Las Vegas. We both have a hell of a game on Thursday,” said Maurer, who envisions an all-North state title game. “I told Tom (Orlich) we’d be happy to share information with them. It’s North vs. South now. I think we should be together on this. Then if we get a chance to see each other, we’ll battle for the title. We’ve got two very, very competitive teams. On a given night, both of us can beat the Vegas teams. I would love to see both North teams in there.”

Tahoe’s opponent, the Desert Shields, feature one of Las Vegas’ top prep players, Demetrius Hunter, a 6-3 shooting guard.

“He’s just an all-around player. He’s very aggressive, hits the boards, drives well and shoots well,” said Ron Fletcher, employed by National Prep Sports Service in Las Vegas.

Fletcher said Hunter, who netted 23 points in the zone third-place game Saturday, often takes more than his share of shots, so “sometimes they don’t play as well as a unit.”

Besides Hunter, the Desert Shields’ three-guard offense includes 5-11 point Larry Graves and 6-0 Bobby Antee. Inside, the Desert Shields are led by mobile 6-6 center Brian Jackson, who hit for 17 points Saturday; and 6-3 forward Corey White, who had 15 points in his last game.

Viking 6-4 senior center Casey Dowling is optimistic that his team’s season won’t end on Thursday or Friday.

“We still have three games left. This is just a stepping stone to that,” said Dowling following the loss to Galena. “We’re still in pretty good shape. We have a No. 2 seed. Everyone puts so much into conference titles and zone titles. But the only thing that really matters is a state championship. Only special teams get to do that.”

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

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