Viking rests "Case" as best of the best in Northern Nevada
All of the talk coming into Saturday’s “Showdown at the Lake” centered on Galena High’s terrific trio of major college recruits Lance Buoncristiani (Santa Clara), Brian Vaka (San Diego) and Matt Seibrandt (UNLV).
Somewhat lost in the limelight was South Tahoe High senior Alan Case, who has quietly done the job like so many Viking basketball stars before him. But the unrecruited Case was the only one of the four Northern Nevada League stars who left the South Tahoe High gym with a smile on his face Saturday night.
Case, playing what STHS coach Tom Orlich referred to as one of his best games in a blue and gold uniform, led the Vikings to a heart-pounding 58-54 triumph over the Grizzlies in South Lake Tahoe.
The 6-foot-4 point guard made his statement in the first 31 minutes and 55 seconds and then immortalized himself in the eyes of STHS and Galena fans with his game-winning 14-foot fallaway jump shot with four seconds remaining.
“That’s what you dream about, making the last shot to win a big game,” said Case, who scored a game-high 26 points and pulled down seven rebounds. “That’s probably one of the better wins we’ve had since I’ve been at South Tahoe.”
With Galena threatening to take a double-digit lead in the third quarter, three times Case came up with answers to Grizzlies’ baskets. In the process, he showed his inside-outside versatility. Following a Brian Vaka three-pointer, Case swooped inside for two points, trimming Galena’s lead to 34-32. Then he answered another Galena basket with another slicing move down the middle for two. Perhaps his biggest bucket during the run was his three-point answer to Buoncristiani’s trey with 3:34 left in the quarter.
Case dominated the final period, outscoring the Grizzlies 10-9. He scored the Vikings’ final eight points and made a key assist to Aaron Buckman for a layup that pulled the Vikings to within 51-50 with 4:27 to go. And his putback of Buckman’s missed free throw gave the Vikings their first lead, 52-51, since the second quarter.
While the Vikings conducted an index-finger-raising celebration at center court afterward, the Grizzlies retreated to a subdued locker room filled with a new-found respect for the Vikings, especially Case.
“He’s a good ballplayer. He should be going somewhere,” said Seibrandt, Galena’s 6-7 center. “I thought he’d take it to the rack, but he pulled up and made a good shot with a lot of pressure.”
Galena coach Tom Maurer thought highly enough of Case before the season to phone Bowling Green coach Dan Dakich about recruiting the Viking standout.
“I told him, “Danny, you need to recruit this guy; he’s a 6-4 guard,” Maurer recalled. “Alan can play in the Mid-American Conference. I have all kinds of respect for Alan Case.
“He’s not one of those visual players, but one who buys into coach Orlich’s program. He’s a blue-collar type of player; he’s not a spectacular-dunking machine. Since day one, Alan has bought into coach’s program, and he’s a great team player. He’s like (former Indiana star) Steve Alfred. Recruiting-wise it will have to be a program that buys into that team aspect. He’s probably one of the best team players I’ve seen in the six years I’ve been around.”
Orlich, one who generally praises team play rather than individuals, singled out Case following Saturday’s thrilling win.
“Alan may have made a case tonight for being the best player in the league,” Orlich said. “Let’s face it, you take one player out of the league and this guy does everything. He brings the ball upcourt, shoots it, he drives, he rebounds and he plays great defense. I don’t know of anybody else that does all that.”
Orlich attributes the cool major college interest in Case to his sub-par summer season.
“That’s when you showcase your players. In July, he didn’t have a great month, therefore he didn’t get the recognition,” Orlich said. “If they could see him now in a team game versus going out there and playing in a superstar camp, it’s a whole different matter.”
Obviously, Orlich believes Case can play at the next level.
“I truly believe he can. I think he can play in two different positions, either as an offguard or the swing guard,” Orlich said.
Despite performing at an optimal level at a significant time, college recruiters weren’t tying up Case’s phone on Sunday.
“It’s been pretty quiet actually,” Case said. “I’ll send out a couple of game tapes and wait until after the season and maybe something will come up. If not, I’ll try and walk on somewhere, but we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.”
What are the chances a tape of Case’s most-recent performance will be passing through the post office someday soon?
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