Vikings hang tough with Cheyenne in season finale |

Vikings hang tough with Cheyenne in season finale

David Gignilliat

RENO – The South Tahoe High boys basketball team may have ended their season Wednesday night at UNR’s Lawlor Events Center with a 63-53 loss to a very athletic Cheyenne team, but not without a fight.

“We regrouped from what we did in zone and stuck right with what might the eventual state champion,” said South Tahoe coach Tom Orlich, competing in his 16th straight state tournament. “We didn’t play our best basketball, but we played well enough to have a shot at winning the game at the end.”

Despite playing behind the entire contest, the Vikings (22-8) just would not go away despite numerous attempts by the Desert Shields to seal the game.

South Tahoe trailed by as much as 12 in the second half, but scrapped back with several defensive stops and some clutch shooting.

“I think the problem we had tonight is that we just couldn’t finish,” said

Cheyenne coach Larry Johnson, who will prepare his team for a semifinal

matchup against Clark at 6:35 p.m. today. “We missed a lot of layups. I mean, a lot of layups.”

Guard Adam Williams drained a three with 5:17 in the game to bring the Vikes within six at 50-44. Cheyenne’s LaDerek Cyrus quickly negotiated the length of the floor for a fast-break layup to regain an eight-point lead for the Desert Shields.

“I think that was a turning point in the game,” said STHS center Bobby

Larmore, playing in his first state tournament. “It got us up. I thought we were in it. I knew we had a chance.”

Moments later, South Tahoe guard Norman Cabanero nailed a 3-pointer from the right corner to make it a 52-47 game with 3:50 to go. The five-point margin was as close as the Vikings had been since the opening minutes of the second quarter.

Cheyenne looked a little like an Orlich squad for most of the fourth

quarter, spreading the floor, passing frequently, and methodically setting up shots at the basket. The mimicry worked, as the Vikings were unable to come up with successive defensive stops in the game’s final minutes.

Guard John Giannoni III led South Tahoe with 17 points, followed by Adam Williams with 12.

Cheyenne guard Demetrius Hunter was the centerpiece of a three-guard set that caused problems for the Vikings virtually from the opening tip-off.

Hunter joined with backcourt mates Eddie Shelby and Larry Graves for a

barrage of layups, inside-the-paint runners and spot-up jumpers that, at times, seemed difficult – if not impossible – to stop. The trio combined for 44 of the Desert Shields’ 63 points, led by Hunter with a game-high 20.

“We have a lot of guards that can beat opponents off the dribble,” said

Hunter, who has signed a letter-of-intent to play hoops for Georgetown

University. “That’s our game and we knew we might be able to take advantage of that tonight.”

The Desert Shields competed with a relatively small rotation, only using six players for most of the game. They were able to dominate the offensive glass, at one point pulling down six consecutive boards during one possession.

“The whole key (to winning) was getting defensive stops. We really had

trouble,” Orlich said. “They didn’t shoot outside the paint. They just took

it to the key, took it to the key, and if they missed they just pounded the boards.”

Though talented and confident, the Cheyenne group may have been too winded to put away a South Tahoe team they had on the ropes during several parts of the game.

“I think we were a little tired and we had some opportunities to put them away, but we didn’t,” said Cheyenne coach Larry Johnson. “You have to give (South Tahoe) a lot of credit. They didn’t fold and made it a tough game.”

The first half was a much more fast-paced affair than the game’s final 16 minutes. The Desert Shields jumped all over South Tahoe in the first

quarter, racing out to an 8-1 lead three minutes into the game. The Vikings kept their cool and didn’t let Cheyenne’s quick start get to them. After holding the ball for nearly a full minute, guard Josh David drained a

6-foot runner in the lane with five seconds left to bring the Vikes to

within five at 17-12 at the end of one.

Cheyenne added to their lead in the second quarter, converting all six of

their second-quarter field goals from within six feet. The Vikings hung

tough, however, converting 11-of-13 free throws in the second period to keep the contest close at 35-27 at the half.

Though the loss officially ended the Vikings season, Orlich said he couldn’t help leaving Reno pleased with the way his team played this season.

“We competed well all year. Our seniors gave us 50 wins and two league

titles in back-to-back seasons. We’ve had a great year,” he said. “All the

other teams in our league would (like to trade) for what we have. But we always want more, we always want to win it all. That’s Viking basketball.”

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around the Lake Tahoe Basin and beyond make the Tahoe Tribune's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.