Vikings shut down Galena
Any time South Tahoe High boys basketball coach Tom Orlich wants to show future teams how to play half-court defense, he can always refer to what his Vikings did to Galena in the second quarter Saturday night.
South Tahoe repeatedly picked the Grizzlies’ pocket with their in-your-face man-to-man defense to ignite a 16-4 run and a 53-40 Northern Nevada League nonconference win in South Lake Tahoe.
“Defensively, our intensity was at an all-time high,” said Orlich a night after being honored for his 500th victory at the school he’s served for 25 seasons. “I thought our defense picked it up another notch, and I thought we got into the driver’s seat because of that.”
The Vikings needed to because the three-time defending zone champion Grizzlies, 12-7, weren’t intimidated despite tipping off without a senior in their starting lineup.
“You saw us come back and play hard, and that’s all I can ask out of this young group,” said Galena coach Tom Maurer. “Tom’s kids did everything they were supposed to do, and we didn’t counter.”
Galena led by as many as four points in the first quarter as the Vikings struggled to finish their slashes to the basket against the Grizzlies’ man defense.
However, John GIannoni III, who led all scorers with 20 points, drained a 3-pointer to put the Vikings ahead for good, 9-8, with 2 minutes, 2 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
Viking senior forward Travis McCollum, who persevered through a scoreless first quarter, erupted at the outset of the second, scoring four straight points and inspired a half-court defense that forced four straight turnovers. After Galena pulled to within 15-14, STHS sank five straight free throws, including four by Tim Sprinkles, to gradually pull away, 20-14.
McCollum kept the surge going with a steal and layup, and a Sprinkles’ swipe led to another McCollum gimme as the Vikings went in front 24-14 with :50 left in the half. Galena planned to hold the ball for the final attempt but shot prematurely, leaving Giannoni ample time to can a 3-pointer from the top of the key to put STHS ahead 27-14 at the break.
“Our youth and inexperience just folded,” Maurer said. “Against a veteran team like this that really understands the game, you counter with backscreens, screening the ball and backdoors and we didn’t do any of the things we were supposed to lead into our offense.”
A 13-point halftime edge may have contributed to South Tahoe’s sluggish start in the second half. Galena came out for the second 16 mintues with fire in the eyes, using a 13-4 run to cut their deficit to four points. Chase Altom’s only field goal attempt fell through for three points, making the score 31-27 STHS with 3:30 remaining in the third period.
“Unfortunately things got too easy in the second quarter and we lost our rhytym in the third quarter,” Orlich said. “Sometimes (a big lead) comes back to haunt you. All of sudden you’re under attack and the other team is coming out and challenging you and throwing everything but the kitchen sink at you.
“Defensively, I think our intensity slacked off a little bit and we hurried offensively in the third quarter.”
But four points was as close as Galena would get. Giannoni answered with a creative scoop off the glass, Sprinkles deftly converted a turnaround jumper and Giannoni capped the 6-0 run with a steal and breakaway layup.
Twice more Galena cut the deficit to six points, but South Tahoe was just good enough at the foul line, including three charity tosses by Andy Butcher, to keep the Grizzlies at arm’s length.
“We didn’t rebound and we didn’t hit our free throws as well as we should have, or else we would have gone ahead and had this thing going away,” Orlich said.
McCollum scored 14 points for STHS, and Joe Heaton scored the same for the Grizzlies.
The Vikings, 14-3, takes a six-game winning streak into a key Division II encounter at Reno on Tuesday night.
Given their 47-point offensive explosion in beating Hug on Tuesday, the South Tahoe High girls seemed to have their offense in gear.
However, the Vikings couldn’t match that offensive output over the next two games in losses to Douglas (47-29) on Friday and Galena (66-15) on Saturday in South Lake Tahoe.
The Grizzlies showed why they are one of the early favorites to win zone and state as their entire roster scored at least one point.
“We played the best team in the state and we played terrible,” said STHS coach Tim Jaureguito. “And they took it easy on us.”
Galena, 17-3, held the Vikings to six first-half points and put away the Vikings with a 22-point third period.
Whitney Williams led all scorers with 13 points, while Kellie Burton contributed 10 points.
Chantelle Young led the Vikings with four points.
South Tahoe travels to Reno on Tuesday.
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