Vikings learn lesson in stunning loss to Yerington
Opening night didn’t go the way the South Tahoe High boys’ basketball team envisioned. However, the silver lining may be the lesson the Vikings learned in defeat.
Minus two of their top players, the Vikings were upset by Yerington 77-64 Tuesday in Yerington. Curtis Johnson, a 6-foot-7 senior center, and Niko Klansek, a 6-5 transfer power forward from Slovenia, were benched for the nonleague game for unacceptable effort during practice.
“They weren’t working as hard as I wanted them to work,” said Viking third-year coach Derek Allister. “I have hard time playing players who are dogging it when other players are doing what I ask and sitting.
“I believe in teaching lessons through the game of basketball. Everybody wants to win ultimately, but a certain standard is attached to wearing those blue and gold uniforms.”
Allister’s message was understood by the players who saw their roles magnify against underdog Yerington.
“It was a real physical game and it showed us the value of being a team, everybody making the right choices and everybody being together and doing the right things in practice,” said STHS senior point guard Chris Perry.
Added junior Dan Tilles, “We had some issues last year. Discipline is a big one with coach. We just need to stay mentally tough and keep it all together.”
The reshuffling of the Viking lineup put Tilles in a starting role, as well as 6-3 freshman Jared Wood.
“Anybody who saw it would have been impressed with his poise and composure; he didn’t look out of place,” said Allister of his freshman low-post player.
Wood had six rebounds and five points.
“It was a real good learning experience for a lot of guys and guys who weren’t actually going to play that much, got a lot of minutes,” Perry said.
Whether the Vikings return to full strength for the Classic won’t ruin the experience for Perry, a veteran of four such home tournaments.
“Everybody comes out and roots for us,” he said. “It’s our first home game … We play three games in a row, and that always gets us pumped up for the season.”
Allister said Johnson and Klansek will play tonight after meeting conditioning drill standards during Wednesday’s practice.
“I’m not sure how much,” Allister said. “I just want to see us better on Sunday than we are now.”
South Tahoe plays Buchach Colony of Modesto at 7 p.m. today, then meets Soquel at 7 p.m. Friday before winding up with Atwater at 3 p.m. Saturday. Soquel and Atwater tip off the tournament at 5 p.m. today.
“We all definitely needs to step up as far as the defense goes and working our tails off,” Tilles said.
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