Vikings take back home-court advantage
The South Tahoe High Vikings have found team unity.
The boys basketball team made a recent trip to Pleasanton, Calif., for a tournament and came back as a cohesive unit.
The Vikings (3-7) showed that unity in a 43-39 win over the Fallon Greenwave (6-3) Tuesday night.
“Our team unity is getting better,” senior Chris Ortiz said. “We get along off the court now and as long as that happens we’ll play well on the court.”
The Vikings didn’t have to dig themselves out of an early hole as they have needed to in the past. Rather, South Tahoe was only down one at the end of the first quarter, mainly on tough man-to-man defense.
“A tremendous difference,” Viking coach Derek Allister said. “Last week did us a lot of good.
“We’re coming along little by little.”
The main difference for the Vikings on Tuesday night was how they converted their defensive energy into points on the offensive end – something they haven’t done in the past. “It’s a whole team game now,” said Ortiz, who had six points in the win. “We’re starting to pass the ball and running the plays now.”
Fallon took a one-point lead into the break but not before the Vikings took their first lead of the game with three minutes left in the half at 13-10.
In the second half, South Tahoe starting to hit its outside jumpers and create turnovers. Senior Matt Connelly, who had 11 points, hit a pair of long-range 3-pointers in the third quarter to give the Vikings the lead. Erick Cappellino also helped the push with four points.
“We looked flat-out good on offense sometimes,” Allister said. “Erick is gaining confidence as a scorer and Matt is coming on at the shooting guard as well.”
South Tahoe went into the fourth quarter with a six-point lead, but Fallon began to creep back into the contest with a full-court press that confused the Vikings, forcing them into turnovers early in the period.
“That’s when we started to get back into the one pass, one shot again,” Ortiz said. “Coach called a time-out and called us over to shake us out of it.”
Junior Matt Mora, who came off the bench to pace South Tahoe with 12 points, began to find the middle of Fallon’s spread defense. He hit a couple of layins and close shots to keep the Vikings in the lead. The Vikings maintained a three- or four-point cushion throughout the period and forced the Greenwave into a fouling situation late in the game. Mora stepped to the free-throw line twice and hit 3-of-4 shots to secure the win.
“I trying not to mess around,” Mora said. “I was remembering when I had a chance to win the game against Atwater when I was bouncing around too much.”
The win over the Greenwave marks the first win ever for this group of players over the boys from Fallon.
“It’s the first time since elementary school we’ve beaten them,” Ortiz said. “Last year, (Travis) McCollum, (John) Giannoni, and (Bob) Larmore’s team won, but this is the first time we’ve beat them as a team.”
The Vikings have a short break for the Christmas holiday before heading to San Diego to play in the prestigious Nike Tournament Dec. 27-30.
“We’re going to San Diego and that’s going to help us,” Ortiz said. “When league starts (in January) we’ll be dangerous.”
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