South Tahoe played a hard-fought game to the end with Fernley on Saturday, but the visiting Vaqueros walked off with the 65-58 league win.
South Tahoe took an early first quarter lead but fell behind. The Vikings rallied with a string of baskets by Tyler Hogbin and Kirby David and a steal and fast break layup at the buzzer by Jared Fajman to trail 16-14 at quarter’s end.
The Vikings were down 27-25 at halftime.
After falling behind by as much as eight points in the third quarter, Dakoda Baca and Denzel Perez scored on back-to-back fast breaks. Fajman sank a 3-pointer at the buzzer to put South Tahoe down three, 42-39, going into the fourth.
South Tahoe remained within a basket or two of Fernley through most of the fourth but started to struggle with fouls, turnovers and missed shots. The Vaqueros would score whenever the Vikings threatened to tie the game.
Sent to the free throw line by a South Tahoe team running out of time, the Vaqueros (8-13, 3-11 IA Northern) converted those chances into points and ended the game with a 9-4 run for the win.
Fajman led South Tahoe’s offense with 18 points. Perez scored 12, David scored 10 and Tyler Hogbin scored nine. Baca scored five and Spencer Harnett and Chase Waterman each scored two.
The Vikings (9-13, 7-7 IA Northern) are tied with Fallon (8-11, 7-7) for a fourth-place playoff spot. South Tahoe closes out its regular season with road games at Sparks and Fallon, both teams it has defeated this season.
South Tahoe is closing out the season without freshman Harry Moses-Chakmakis, whose wrist was broken in two places when he was severely fouled in a Feb. 4 game against Dayton.