Lakers claim TNT Cup in thriller against Truckee
The North Tahoe boys’ basketball team pulled out a thrilling win against Truckee on Tuesday night to capture the second annual TNT Cup.
Playing in front of a raucous home crowd, the Lakers held on in a back-and-forth contest to claim a 48-45 victory against the rival Wolverines.
“This is bigger than any other game we’ve seen before,” said senior captain Cameron McAndrews on the size of the crowd at North Tahoe High School. “(The student section) was huge for us. That was our sixth man.”
The game got off to a slow start with both sides tied 2-2 midway through the first quarter. The Lakers picked up the pace to close the period, going on a 9-4 run to finish the first quarter.
The teams continued to struggle from the field in the second quarter, until just before intermission when Truckee sophomores Sam Purgason and Gabe Smith knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Wolverines a 16-15 lead. Truckee would take a 17-16 lead into the locker room.
The teams exchanged leads several times during the second half, and were tied 40-40 with less that 2 minutes remaining in the game. North Tahoe senior John Parmeter Zapata broke the tie with 1:40 left in the game, hustling from the other side of the basket for a catch and finish off an air ball.
“I was just thinking, ‘If I get this rebound, I’m going to make it no matter what. I can’t let this not go down for my boys. I’ve got to make this,’” said Zapata.
Truckee junior Ethan Flynn answered on the next possession, driving past a defender to set up a floater in the paint. The Wolverines got the stop on the other end, and then senior Isaac Cruz drilled a straightaway 3-pointer to give Truckee a 45-42 lead with 47 seconds left.
Zapata pulled North Tahoe to within a point on the following possession, and then the Lakers sent Truckee to the free throw line with 32 seconds left. The Wolverines failed to convert the first attempt on a one-and-one, and the Lakers gathered the rebound, but missed a look at the basket. Once again, however, Zapata was there to clean up the miss, putting back the offensive rebound to give North Tahoe a 46-45 lead with 5.1 seconds left.
Truckee was unable to find a quick basket, and was forced to send North Tahoe to the line. A subsequent technical foul by the Wolverines gave North Tahoe two additional free throws and senior Cameron McAndrews netted both to give the Lakers a three-point lead.
“Just make ‘em,” said McAndrews on his thought process at the line. “I’m the only one in the room, I’m just going to hit them.”
Following another foul and a North Tahoe missed free throw, Truckee had a chance to tie the game but the team’s final desperation heave from near half court failed to find its mark.
“This is a big statement win,” said McAndrews, who finished the evening with six points. “I think that it’s going to be a message to the entire league that we’re no joke.”
Zapata led all scorers with 17 points, including eight in the fourth quarter. Aside from the offense, the North Tahoe big man was all over the court, blocking shots, ripping down rebounds and diving for loose balls.
“We’re going to do what we can to pull out a win, and we really pulled out a great one tonight,” said Zapata.
Sophomore Juan Camacho-Morales added 11 points for North Tahoe, and senior captain Lucas Valois tallied eight points.
“It means a lot,” said Valois on the win. “Because my freshman year on (junior varsity) we didn’t win a game, and now we’re out here beating Truckee. It feels very good.”
Flynn led the Wolverines with 13 points, followed by Cruz with nine points.
Truckee will open league play today at North Valleys.
North Tahoe will head across the lake this week to play in the Whittell Holiday Tournament. The Lakers opened tournament play on Thursday against North Valleys, and then will play three more games today and Saturday.
“We need to work on taking care of the ball. We had a lot of turnovers that game,” said McAndrews on improvements the team needs to make going forward. “And blocking out for rebounds, because they had a lot of offensive rebounds on us. If we fix those two things, that should be huge.”
Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at email@example.com or 530-550-2643.