Vikings mobilize for Operation Desert Shields II |

Vikings mobilize for Operation Desert Shields II

David Gignilliat, Tribune Staff Writer

Tempo (n.): 1. relative rapidity or rate of movement, 2. characteristic rate, rhythm, or pattern of work or activity, 3. what the Cheyenne or South Tahoe boys basketball teams must control today in order to advance into the semifinals of the NIAA/U.S. Bank 4A boys state tournament.

“I know that they’re going to try to control the tempo of the game,” said Cheyenne coach Larry Johnson, whose Desert Shields won the 4A Southern zone tournament last weekend and will enter Reno’s Lawlor Events Center today at 6:30 p.m. against the Vikings as the region’s No. 1 seed. “But so are we, so it should be interesting.”

Cheyenne (27-5) will bring an athletic, explosive team to the table against the Vikes (22-7), one that likes high-scoring, fast-paced games and apparently has the firepower to carry that strategy out.

“The tempo will be very important to the game because we don’t want to get in an up-and-down situation where they’re getting a lot of possessions,” said STHS coach Tom Orlich, who heads over Spooner Summit to Reno today in search of his third state crown. “If they score 90 points, we’re probably going to lose. We want to keep the score in the 50s or 60s where I think we’ll have a better shot.”

South Tahoe has been in the throes of a recent slump, losing two straight in the zone tournament (against Reed and Sparks) after going 15-1 against Northern teams prior to the tourney. Shots have not fallen for the Vikings lately, as sharpshooters John Giannoni III, Josh David and Matt Williams have caught iron more frequently than they have touched twine. On the other side of the ball, the team has been victimized by the dribble penetration antics of some of the Northern region’s top guards. Of course, all would be forgotten – and forgiven – with a win over the Desert Shields today.

“We’re a decided underdog going into tomorrow night, but we always seem to rise up to the challenge of whoever we play against,” Orlich said. “We’ve beaten teams similar to Cheyenne this year so we know that we’re capable of winning, so it’s just whether or not we do it.”

Cheyenne runs a three-guard offense, paced by Demetrius Hunter, Larry Graves and Eddie Shelby, one of the best three-guard rotations in the state. Each guard has the ability to break open a game with their scoring. Center Jason Johnson is the Desert Shields lynchpin in the paint and joins the guard trio in averaging double figures in points this season.

“It makes your job a whole lot easier having so many options to go to,” Johnson said. “I find that there are very few nights when you’ll have all four guys off their game. One of them is always going to play well”

Besides the obvious lure of a state title, there may also be a desire for revenge at play for Cheyenne during today’s game. The Desert Shields lost to the Vikings last season 51-47, eerily in the state tournament’s opening round.

“We’re a very senior-oriented team. Most of our guys were in that situation at states last year,” said Johnson, . “I think the mindset with a lot of the guys is ‘we were here last year, but let’s do it better this time.’ The team is very unselfish and they play together well as a team.”

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