Vikings fall to Tigers in consolation round
In a meeting of a pair of Nevada 4A rivals, the South Tahoe Vikings fell to the Douglas Tigers in the consolation round of the Viking Rotary Classic Saturday afternoon, 65-45.
“It’s nice to get that monkey off our backs,” Tigers coach Keith Lewis said. “The kids came in here expecting to win.”
Douglas, who hadn’t beaten South Tahoe since 1986, used an opening 10-0 run and a relentless full court press to control the Vikings’ offense.
“We have to come out and compete,” Vikings coach Derek Allister said. “We’ve had trouble doing that the last two nights.
“We were playing like we were stuck in mud, instead of playing with reckless abandon like Douglas was.”
South Tahoe failed to find its rhythm in the first five minutes, but did when Allister inserted seniors Erick Cappellino and Andy Mora, as well as junior Aaron Shively. The trio seemed to jump-start the offense, with Cappellino leading the way by finding the loose balls, getting into open spaces and hitting jumpers.
“Erick played more like I expect him to this season,” Allister said. “He showed flashes of what kind of player he can be.”
The Vikings closed the gap to only seven points at the end of the first quarter, 16-9.
But Douglas’ Seth Lee opened the game up with a stellar inside-out game. The 6-foot-4 senior paced the Tigers with 21 points, despite sitting out the majority of the second half.
“Obviously I’m a little biased, but I think he’s one of the best players in Northern Nevada,” Lewis said. “The kid can flat out score.”
Allister was equally impressed with the forward.
“Seth is a heck of a player,” the first-year coach said. “He’s definitely (going to be) a college player.”
Lee’s scoring led the Tigers as they took a 34-15 lead into the halftime break. In the third quarter it was still Douglas who had the better of play as the visiting team extended its lead to 31 points.
The Vikings made a run to open the fourth quarter to pull within 20 with about three minutes remaining in the contest.
South Tahoe again turned to unlikely heroes for their run. The backcourt duo of Clint Joaquin and Christian Piol scored a total of 16 points during the stretch.
Joaquin, running the point, made an effort to involve the rest of the team before looking for his own shot. Numerous times he found Cappellino and Piol on back-door cuts for easy baskets.
“I try to read the defense before I pass the ball,” the senior said. “I saw openings (that allowed me to get the passes off and drive to the hole).”
In the final period, the Vikings played with the reckless abandon they lacked to open the game. Cappellino and sophomore Brandon Tinlin began to exploit the middle with Lee sitting on the Tigers’ bench. Additionally, Piol, Joaquin, and Ryan Cullen began to intercept Douglas’ passes and start fast breaks.
“Coach told us just to play hard out there,” Joaquin said. “We just moved the ball around.”
The Vikings began to close the gap, causing Lewis to pull Lee off the bench to secure the win.
“They found a way to take the sweetness out of it,” Lewis said. “I don’t want to reward kids who don’t play defense.
“This was a good chance for them to earn playing time, the key word being earn and not get.”
But, Lewis also realizes that he was lucky to catch the Vikings early in the season.
“They’re a young team,” Lewis said. “January rolls around and it’s a whole new ball game.”
The Vikings advanced to the consolation championship by ousting Leland on a last second shot by Joaquin.
The Vikings down by six point with two and half minutes left in the game got a couple of buckets from senior Matt Connelly to tie the game. South Tahoe had the possession with a few seconds remaining when the Vikings lost the ball out of bounds.
Leland brought the ball down the court and Connelly picked off pass and tossed it ahead to Joaquin, who laid it in as time expired.
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