Vikings seek zone title |

Vikings seek zone title

Michael Traum

They say revenge is a dish best served cold.

If that’s true, then South Tahoe High hoop fans may want to bring their winter jackets to Carson High on Friday, where the Vikings will once again square off with Sparks, this time in the Northern Nevada 4A zone semifinals.

The Railroaders have bested Tahoe twice this season, including a 60-48 beating on Feb. 14, when a Viking victory would have meant a share of the Division I title. Instead, Tahoe saw 3 quarters of hard work go for naught as Sparks dismantled the home team in the final minutes and celebrated the title win well past the final buzzer.

It was Sparks’ second straight division title, coming on the road in the toughest gymnasium in Northern Nevada. But Tahoe coach Tom Orlich said he thought the Railroaders laid it on a bit thick.

“I think (Sparks) really humiliated our kids in that last game. The last couple of minutes a few things got out of hand on the floor. Then there was the celebration,” Orlich said. “I don’t know how much they respect us. They’re pretty cocky. And after beating us twice, I’m sure they’re very confident.”

Sparks coach Dick Lee said his team didn’t celebrate any more or less than a division champ should.

“We celebrated because we were the Division I champ. The fact we beat South Tahoe made it a little more special. But there was no lack of respect. We were excited and I don’t care,” Lee said. “It’s always a privilege to play Tahoe and they’re the most respected program in the North. But we don’t fear them.”

According to Tyler Pakes, the team’s frustration has turned into anger – the kind of motivation that makes good things happen for South Tahoe teams.

“It was totally silent in our locker room after the game,” said the senior, “and you could hear them celebrating through the walls.

We’re getting an upset anger from the times they’ve beat us. So we’ll be pumped up.”

So the motivation is there, one of the key factors in upholding South Tahoe’s exalted tradition. Add to that the desire to play for an 11th straight division or zone title, which would come Saturday, and the Vikes should have no problem being ready mentally.

The next vital element will be execution on both ends of the court. Orlich said the last two games, Wooster and Jesuit, are examples of Tahoe at its near best.

Those effort levels will have to be duplicated if the Vikes hope to contain Sparks’ weapons of Josh Devine and Lamar Speights and the Railroaders’ defense, which held leading-scorer Alan Case to just six points on Feb. 14.

“They’ve done great defensively, dominated the boards and penetrate well,” Orlich said.

Devine had a silky 26 points on numerous sojourns to the hoop. The Vikes will force the big man to fire from long range while limiting his soirees in the key, according to junior Jon Case.

“We’ll sag in the key and let Devine shoot from the outside and keep him off the boards,” Case said. “We’re tired of losing to Sparks. It’s really important to get the chance to play for an 11th title. And there’s the revenge thing.”

Game time is 7:45 p.m. at Carson High. The winner will play the Galena-McQueen winner in the zone finals on Saturday at 7:45 p.m. The third-place game is at 4:30 p.m.

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