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Vikings make state-ment

Michael Traum

RENO – It should have been tougher than it was.

The South Tahoe High boys basketball team crushed Wooster, 84-55, in the first round of the zone championships Tuesday in Reno.

With the win, the Vikings secured a 15th straight trip to the Nevada state championships.

“We expected a much closer game,” said Tahoe coach Tom Orlich. “It meant a lot to the kids to retain the school’s tradition.”

From the opening tip to the final tick, the Vikes, the No. 3 seed from Division I, played as if the world would end if they lost to Div. II’s No. 2-seeded Colts. Patient offense and in-your-face defense led Tahoe to a 22-12 lead after the first quarter. More of the same in the second quarter pushed the lead to 17 before the Colts limped away after 16 minutes down by 13.

“I’ve never seen anybody play better than Tahoe did tonight. They’ll be tough to beat,” said Wooster coach Dick Allen. “We went over everything they did and we just broke down.”

The Colts’ fleeting hopes to climb back into it faded as the third quarter started. Tahoe reeled off an 18-4 run, with five buckets coming on layups. Alan Case hit for four of his team-high 18 during the run. Tyler Pakes ended the quarter with an offensive rebound, putback and foul shot with less than one second left, pushing the lead to 62-38.

“We got a lot of layups because we executed the offense so well,” Case said. “We can celebrate tonight, but we have to get back to work tomorrow.”

Wooster continued to hustle during the fourth, but Tahoe wouldn’t relent. All five Vikings starters finished in double figures and remained in the game until late in the period. Doug Wilson and Nick Romagnolo each finished with 15, while Greg Bruso had 14 and Casey Dowling 10.

“We had very good shot selection. It was darn close to the best execution we’ve had all year. These kids really believe in themselves,” Orlich said.

Added Bruso, “We were pumped. It was a must (win). We played as a team – all of us.”

A loss would’ve eliminated the Vikes from the state tournament for the first time since entering the league in 1982. Now Tahoe will face Sparks, in a rematch of the division title game, on Friday at 7:45 p.m. at Carson High. Galena and McQueen will play the other zone semifinal at 4:35 p.m. It will be all Division 1 teams representing the North in the state playoffs.


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