Lake Tahoe Bobcats reach finals of consolation bracket |

Lake Tahoe Bobcats reach finals of consolation bracket

The Highlanders huddle up during tournament action during the 53rd Annual Winter Classic Optimist Basketball Tournament.
Courtesy photo

The Lake Tahoe School Bobcats took up an invitation to play in the 53rd Annual Winter Classic Optimist Basketball Tournament during Martin Luther King weekend, and were able to reach the finals of the consolation bracket.

Each year, highly competitive eighth-grade basketball teams from California and Nevada gather at South Tahoe Middle School to play in the three-day tournament.

This year marks the first time that a small school from the Tah-Neva League has been able to play in this tournament. Late Tahoe was matched up against schools that were much bigger and more experienced, yet that did not stop them from finishing the tournament with a 2-2 record and making the consolation championship final.

The Bobcats opened the tournament against the No. 1 seed Martinez Jr. High School. Against a highly skilled and tall Martinez team the Bobcats fought gallantly but were unable to match their opponents, and lost 45-17. Martinez Jr. went on to finish the tournament 4-0 and won the championship game against Seven Hills Middle School.

The Lake Tahoe boys then moved on to the consolation quarterfinal game against Jackson Jr. High School. Jack Ludviksen started the game by making consecutive 3-pointers in the opening minutes, and from there the Bobcats were rarely challenged. Trey Casini and Dean Cafferata-Jenkins played tough down low and the Bobcats went on to win the game comfortably 33-24.

The boys then moved on to the consolation semifinal against Magnolia Middle School. In a tightly contested contest, Brody Thralls, Ben Rock, and Nicholas Patrick had fantastic games. Patrick hit the go-ahead basket with a minute to play and the Bobcats held on to win a hard-fought game 48-43.

On Sunday morning, the boys returned for the consolation finals. Playing against a deep and talented team from Mark Twain Middle School, the Bobcats struggled to match the perimeter shooting of their opponents. Ludviksen had another strong game, along with Lukas Burton, Shane Green, and Kade Martinez contributing with timely defense and scoring. But it wasn’t enough as Mark Twain MS pulled away late to win 56-36.

“It has been a great tournament for this squad,” said Coach Kris Nugent. “It’s incredible to watch our small private school battle against much larger schools and not be intimidated. It’s an honor to coach a team of such outstanding young men – they play the game the right way; they work hard, play for each other, and never give up.”

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