Vikings’ rally falls short in division opener
Assuming Reno will walk away with the Sierra League title, Carson coach Bruce Barnes didn’t hesitate in claiming South Tahoe as the second best team. That was Thursday.
On Friday, his team did everything possible to convince their coach they could be the second-place team. Ricky Correlli scored 15 points, Ryan Henry 14 and Andy Bohm 13 as Carson held on to beat the Vikings 66-59 in the league opener Friday for both teams at Morse Burley Gymnasium.
“I’m ecstatic about the way we played,” Barnes said. “It was important that we played at home where our guys are comfortable. I just thought we came out and executed really well.”
So after shooting 9 of 17 from the field in the first quarter, including 4 of 6 from behind the 3-point arc, does Barnes now think the Senators can finish in second?
“If we can play like that, then yeah,” Barnes said. “But they were missing one of their starters (Dan Tobin), … so they were a little shorthanded. But if we can shoot like that, I think we can. There’s so much parity on our side.”
The Vikings missed Tobin, who often leads the team scoring. They also missed a week of preseason games leading up to the opener.
“This was the first time we had to play without him,” said STHS coach Derek Allister. “It was like we were trying to find the combination that might have a chance at working. That’s what you use the preseason for and we were doing that in our first league game.”
The two teams were on pace to score 100 points each as Carson led 27-22 after the first period. The Vikings, who had only played eight preseason games coming into Friday night’s game, led 8-5 early on after Curtis Johnson scored six points in the first three minutes. Barnes was forced to play a zone defense the entire game to try and limit Johnson’s touches. It seemed to frustrate the 6-foot-8 center. Johnson finished with 17 points, but 11 of those points came in the first half.
“We came out with a precise game plan and we executed it,” said Henry, who scored seven of his points in the first quarter. “The guys off the bench are doing a good job and really putting the pressure on (the other team). That really helps because it takes the pressure of us.”
The Vikings’ other main threat, 6-foot-4 guard Niko Klansek, was also kept in check. He had only five points at halftime, when Carson led 35-33, and finished with 11. Senior 6-foot-2 guard Phil Griffith, who took Tobin’s place, scored eight points.
The Senators shot 50 percent from the field in the first half.
“We shot the ball extremely well in the first half,” Barnes said. “Defensively, our idea was not to give Niko any good looks. We always wanted someone chasing him around and trying to get a hand in his face.”
South Tahoe (3-6, 0-1) took a 37-35 lead after Johnson’s layup with 6:56 left in the third. The Vikings never led by more than three points in the second half. Correlli gave the Senators a 53-47 lead after converting a pair of free throws at the end of the quarter.
The Senators led 53-47 after the third quarter, then opened up their biggest lead, 58-49, after a 3-pointer from Bohm and another basket from the senior guard. But Carson (8-6 overall, 1-0 league) saw South Tahoe score the next eight points and get within one point, 58-57, following a series of poor shots and turnovers.
“We came back and had it to two, then couldn’t get a rebound off a missed free throw and that was pretty much the game,” Allister said.
Allister added that the Vikings were effective in moving through Carson’s full-court press.
“I can’t really remember us turning it over against the press, except maybe once or twice on deep passes. But that didn’t really hurt us,” Allister said.
What did hurt, though, was the Senators’ performance from the line, where they were 6-of-8 during the final minute.
“I’m pretty excited about that win. I really think second place (in league) is wide open,” Henry said.
If Tobin returns to the lineup soon, Barnes expects the rematch in South Lake Tahoe to be a little different. “I think Tobin would’ve helped them,” Barnes said of the 6-foot-3 guard, who broke his toe and will miss at least the next two weeks. “Their place is a tough place to play.”
Carson won the freshman game, 55-41.
— Tribune sportswriter Darin Olde contributed to this story.
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