Vikings must-win an inside job
With the basket looking as big as a silo for Julian Hatcher late in the fourth period Friday, South Tahoe High fans fidgeted in the wooden bleachers, sensing the Vikings’ playoff chances coming to a cruel end.
But clutch free throws by Chris Cosmi, Curtis Johnson and Niko Klansek and a smart defensive stand on the final possession kept those playoff hopes flickering as the Vikings escaped with a 66-63 Sierra Division boys’ basketball victory in South Lake Tahoe.
South Tahoe (3-4) moved within a half game of Wooster (3-3) for the Sierra Division’s fourth-and-final regional tournament berth with two weeks remaining in the regular season. If the teams should tie for fourth place, the Vikings will earn the regional berth by virtue of beating Wooster twice.
Johnson’s free throw gave the Vikings a 65-60 lead with 13.6 seconds left. The Colts then rushed the ball up the floor and Hatcher buried a three-ball with the calmness of a mortician, pulling Wooster within 65-63 with 6.2 remaining.
A second later, Klansek cashed in one of two free throws to give the Vikings a precarious 3-point edge.
With a foul to give, the Vikings wisely fouled Hatcher just after he crossed midcourt with :01 to go. Wooster used a time-out to set up a final shot for Hatcher, but Viking senior Keenyn Wallace denied the hot shooter the ball on the in-bound play. Instead, Joey Golaw took the final shot and it only found air.
“We got kind of shaky, but we didn’t fall apart,” said Johnson, who led the Vikings with 25 points. “We had that 1 second left, and we were talking about, ‘This is our season. It’s not going down the drain in 1 second.'”
After falling behind 60-47 with less than 3 minutes to play, Hatcher single-handedly shot the Colts back into the game. He scored 16 straight points, including a pair of 3-pointers and a rare four-point play.
“There was 2 minutes left and I told the kids (during a time-out), ‘You know Julian can score 10 or 12 in a minute,'” Allister said. “The kids have seen him enough that they buy into that.
“We had a couple of breakdowns. We were trying to foul because we had two fouls to give. They struggled doing that, but we got the one when it was absolutely critical.”
The 5-foot-8 Wooster senior finished with a game-high 38 points, after being limited to three points in the opening quarter and 11 at the break.
Afterward the numbers seemed larger, considering that Hatcher almost didn’t play.
“My back was bothering me the whole game, but I just had to step it out and play,” said Hatcher, who injured his back Jan. 25 against Douglas. “My back took a step off my speed.”
As unconscious as Hatcher was in the final 3 minutes it wasn’t enough to overcome what Johnson and Klansek did to the interior of Wooster’s man defense throughout. The Viking seniors worked the high-low game repeatedly to combine for 42 points.
“They did a good job of spreading our defense. They took our young kids out of help-(side) defense and it’s over with Curtis (when he gets the ball inside),” said Wooster coach Torrey Sheets.
Allister said, “We’ve really made strides in our low-post attack. Earlier in the year we were struggling generating anything out of the low post, so that’s been a point of emphasis. Slowly, game by game, it’s gotten better and better.”
They each made seven baskets, but Johnson responded with a stellar night at the foul line to keep the Colts from rallying sooner. Johnson connected on 11-of-16 attempts at the charity stripe and the Vikings were 18 of 27 collectively.
“We have been trying to get in a groove with each other, knowing where each other is gonna be without looking at each other,” said Johnson of his teamwork with Klansek. “We’re just challenging each other, seeing if we can outscore each other. That’s a good way to put points on the board.”
Notes: Hatcher is another burgeoning player from the area who is going unnoticed by the University of Nevada. Hatcher said that Rider, Cal Poly, Boise State, Fresno State and San Diego are recruiting him.
“I think he can play at a lot of schools. No question,” Allister said.
His star quality wasn’t lost on the younger fans at Friday’s game. They waited outside the Colts’ locker room to get their star’s autograph. They weren’t disappointed.
“We played this game like it was a big game for us,” Hatcher said. “We didn’t get the job done, but we can’t hang that over our heads for the rest of the season.”
South Tahoe will get its second crack at 6-11 David Padgett and the Reno Huskies on Tuesday in Reno.
SOUTH TAHOE 66, WOOSTER 63
Hatcher 16-34, 1-1, 38; Golaw 2-17, 0-0, 5; Jones 5-8, 3-4, 16; Joustra 1-2, 0-0, 2; O’Brien 1-9, Smith 0-1, 0-0, 0. Totals 25-71, 4-5, 63.
Perry 2-5, 3-5, 8; Wallace 2-2, 0-0, 5; Tobin 2-6, 0-0, 4; Johnson 7-12, 11-16, 25; Klansek 7-16, 2-4, 17; Cosmi 0-1, 2-2, 2; Griffith 1-1, 0-0, 3; Wood 1-2, 0-0, 2. Totals 22-45, 18-27, 66.
Wooster 4 16 13 30 — 63
South Tahoe 17 10 16 23 — 66
Three-point goals: Hatcher 5, Jones 3, Golaw; Klansek, Griffith, Perry, Wallace. Total fouls: Wooster 20, South Tahoe 8. Fouled out: Nielsen.
South Tahoe girls drop conference game to Wooster
The South Tahoe High School girls’ basketball team lost a 4A Sierra conference game to Wooster at home Friday night, Jan. 31 by a score of 47-16.
The Vikings led 4-2 after the first quarter, but were down by five points at the half.
“In the first half we did a pretty good job,” said head coach Chris Proctor. “First-half wise, we did the best we’ve done all season.”
Unfortunately for the Vikings, Wooster’s Brianne McGowan had 12 of her 18 points in the third quarter to cap the game for the Colts.
“She kind of took it to us,” Proctor said.
Jessica Lopez had six points to lead the Vikings in scoring, and also played the chaser on McGowan in a box-and-one defense.
“Jessica had her the whole game pretty much and did a great job,” Proctor added.
The Vikings are now 0-8 in the conference and 1-14 overall for the season.
South Tahoe plays at Reno Tuesday, then at North Valleys and Douglas later in the week.
Whittell gets back on track at Silver Stage
The Whittell High School boys’ basketball team finished the weekend at 1-1 in division play after a Friday night loss at home to Lovelock, 61-51, and a Saturday road win against Silver Stage, 62-33.
The Warriors improved to 3-8 in Sierra 2A Northern conference play and 4-16 overall.
Warriors head coach Brian Mehrer said his team had a shot at the win Friday, but Lovelock’s free-throw shooting sealed their fate.
“We were ahead at the half (28-25) and at the end of the third quarter (42-41),” Mehrer said. “Basically, we got to the fourth quarter and ran out of gas. It didn’t help that Lovelock shot 11-14 from the line in the fourth (period).”
Brian Jones had 13 points to lead the Warriors, while Tommy Esquivel and Jake Summers each had 11.
Against Silver Stage, a first-year basketball team with no seniors, the Warriors ran away after struggling briefly in the first quarter.
The score was tied at 13 at the end of the first, a repeat of a game earlier in the season in which Silver Stage led after the first quarter, 13-12.
“They’ve got some talent and they’ll be all right in the next couple of years, but they are young,” Mehrer said.
In the second quarter, the Warriors broke the game open with a 15-0 run to lead 28-13 at the half.
“It was nice to play a game like that because we played all underclassmen halfway through the end of the third, just to see where we’d be,” he added. “I was very pleased with the performance of the underclassmen, especially when we had all five on the floor together.”
Esquivel led the way with 14 points, Danny Shapiro added 12 and Summers chipped in 11 for the Warriors.
The boys’ team next plays at Independence on Friday, a game that Mehrer called a “must-win” in order to make the playoffs.
The team currently occuppies the final position to advance to post-season play.
“The true test will be Friday night. That’s a do-or-die situation,” Mehrer said. “We have to win by more than two points. If we lose to them, we’ll end up in a tie and they’ll go.
“If we can beat Independence, we’ll be sitting all right,” he added. “That’s not to say that Independence won’t pull off an upset somewhere down the line. If we can win two of our last three games, we’ll be in the playoffs. Unfortunately, those last three games are all on the road.”
WHS girls split
In girls’ basketball, the Warriors lost to Lovelock 49-30 Friday, then came back the next night to beat Silver Stage 43-20.
In the Lovelock game, the Whittell girls were beaten by turnovers.
“I was really pleased with girls’ defensive intensity and they did a great job on the boards,” said Warriors head coach Lindsay Wines. “Kaitie Green did a fantastic job for us in rebounding (with 14).
“The girls worked really hard to get the ball and then we’d go down the floor and throw it away or take bad shots,” Wines added. “We just couldn’t capitalize.”
Wines noted that at the end of the first half her team had nine steals but 14 turnovers.
“The turnovers just really haunted us,” she said. “We played them a lot better than last time.”
Ashley Wines and Jenna Hayes led the way for the Warriors with nine points each.
Against Silver Stage on Saturday, the Warriors put together a solid game at both ends.
“I started kids who I hadn’t started all year,” Wines said. “My concern with last night’s game was the lack of intensity. We were only ahead by five at the half (17-12 before an 18-2 third quarter).”
“We came back out and played with a lot more intensity in the second half,” she said. “They only scored two baskets from the floor in the second half. It was a good win to get.”
Ashley Wines and Luauna Brinkley were the leading scorers for the Warriors with 11 points apiece.
The girls’ team plays next at conference foe West Wendover on Saturday.
“That is a really big game for us,” Wines said. “If we beat Wendover, I’m pretty sure we’ll make it to zone playoffs (Nevada 2A Northern Regionals).”
The Warriors girls’ record is 3-7 in the conference and 5-16 overall.
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