Vikes prep for Nike Classic |

Vikes prep for Nike Classic

Just do it, Vikings.

The South Tahoe boys basketball team will head to San Diego Dec. 26-31 to compete in the 1998 Nike National Prep Classic against some of the country’s top high school competition.

“We want to get better as a team,” said South Tahoe coach Tim Orlich of his squad’s trip to San Diego. “We’re going to play some really good teams and try to elevate and improve our own play.”

The team will leave the day after Christmas for the holiday tournament in San Diego, hosted by Torrey Pines High School. The five-day tournament will guarantee the Vikings at least four games, possibly five depending how far the team advances. The Vikings open the tournament against Ocean View (Huntington Beach, Calif.) Saturday at 4:30 p.m. in a non-bracket matchup for both teams.

This will not be the first meeting between the two teams, however. South Tahoe beat Ocean View in the 1995 tournament. This year, Ocean View enters as the defending California Division III-AA Southern Section champions. That team eventually lost in the Southern regional state playoffs, falling in the semifinals to a talented Washington Union team, 66-44.

“We’ve had a pretty good relationship with [Ocean View] over the years,” said Orlich, whose team heads into the holiday tournament with a 7-2 record. “They play an aggressive man-to-man defense, and are always very skilled. We expect a good game from them.”

The Vikings will begin bracket play at 10:30 a.m. on Monday against Monte Vista, an San Francisco-area squad. Orlich said he does not know much about Monte Vista’s team, but he is sure his kids will adapt accordingly. The Vikings will play games on Tuesday and Wednesday determined by how they fare in the tournament’s initial matchups.

South Tahoe will be competing for what is called the Governors’ Cup, which is in the “Diamond” Division. Included in the Vikings’ bracket are teams from New York (Frontier High School) and Utah (Timpanogos HS).

The Vikings are coming off a good showing last weekend, compiling a 2-1 record in one of the Amador Valley Classic’s toughest brackets.

The Bay Area event yielded the Vikings a dramatic a first-round 84-80 win against a squad Orlich said is “probably the best team we played all year” – Cleveland, of Reseda, Calif. South Tahoe forward Josh David connected for 20 points in the game on his way to all-tournament honors. A 72-51 loss to Grant in their second game dropped the Vikings into the consolation bracket, where they regrouped to drop Amador Valley, 63-56, for a third-place finish.

“We might have faced the most difficult schedule of that tournament,” said South Tahoe junior forward Tim Sprinkles. “That experience really prepared us for the caliber of competition we’re going to face in San Diego. We realized we’re not going to play smaller schools in the tournament that we can dominate.”

Sprinkles said this week’s practices have presented an excellent opportunity for the team to “work out some kinks” and come together as a unit.

“I’m feeling pretty good going into tournament,” said Sprinkles, who will most likely be called upon to guard the opposing team’s most dangerous offensive threat. “It’s going to be a fun tournament. It’s always a good time traveling with the team because we’re such good friends.”

Following the Nike-sponsored tourney, the Vikings will enjoy a five-day respite before beginning league action on the road Jan. 5 against Hug.

Note: The Nike name and the tournament’s metropolitan venue continue to attract some of the best teams in the country, including several Division I prospects, college assistants and head coaches.

Orlich recalled the 1992 tournament – the team’s first visit to the San Diego event – where three of the University of Kansas’ future starting five were featured on different teams. Joining South Tahoe basketball icon Jerod Haase in the ’92 field were center Scot Pollard (Torrey Pines HS) and point guard Jacques Vaughn (Muir HS).

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