North Tahoe basketball: Laker boys start league 1-1 |

North Tahoe basketball: Laker boys start league 1-1

Sylas Wright and Seth Lightcap
Sierra Sun
Seth Lightcap/Sierra SunNorth Tahoe's Armando Paniagua blazes past a Lovelock defender on his way to two of the 15 points he scored in the Lakers' league opener Friday. Paniagua scored 19 points in the Lakers' 48-47 win over Independence the following day.

TAHOE CITY ” The Laker boys rebounded from a league-opening loss to Pershing County on Friday with a gritty come-from-behind win over Independence, 48-47, on Saturday.

Trailing by six points with about three minutes remaining in regulation, the Lakers (1-1) took advantage of some crucial late fouls against the visiting Colts, including a couple technicals. Meanwhile, Independence struggled at the free throw line down the final stretch as the Lakers steadily cut into the lead.

Senior guard Armando Paniagua, who shot the technicals for North Tahoe, connected on 8-of-12 free throws in the fourth quarter and finished with a team-high 19 points to help lead the Lakers to victory.

“Armando has been playing great,” said North Tahoe head coach Mike Williams. “He’s been getting our offense going, being aggressive, taking good shots and getting to the rim.

“And Jim (Laughlin) has been there to clean up everything (under the basket).”

Laughlin, the Lakers’ senior center, finished with 14 points, while junior Mitchell Conn added eight points.

Sophomore guard Connor Whaley helped keep North Tahoe in the game with solid play at the point, and senior forward Juan Medina impacted the game with strong defense and rebounding.

The Colts led 18-17 at the half and 35-33 at the end of the third quarter.

The din of the hometown crowd cheering them on didn’t provide quite enough inspiration for the Laker boys in their league opener against the Pershing County (Lovelock) Mustangs on Friday. Despite shooting at their home backboards, the Lakers let the game slip away early and lost by a final score of 59-46.

First-half play was dominated by the Mustangs as their full-court press confused the Lakers.

“We hadn’t faced that much pressure lately, and we didn’t handle it too well,” said Williams. “Lovelock forced us into too many turnovers.”

In the second half North Tahoe had a bit more quickness in its step but not enough to catch the stampeding Mustangs. Laker players gave it everything they had, however, highlighted by standout performances from Paniagua and Laughlin.

Finishing strong with 22 points in the fourth quarter, the Lakers might have turned the tables given more time, but after four quarters of play the visiting team remained ahead by double-digits.

Williams accentuated the positives before his team moves on.

“I thought our interior defensive play was good,” he said. “We weren’t giving up inside shots or second chances.

But that still left room to shoot for the Mustangs.

“They were hitting shots from the top of the key and we weren’t out their contesting the shots,” said Williams.

On the offensive end of court once again it was Paniagua and Laughlin who saw the basket the most. Paniagua finished with 15 points while Laughlin contributed 13 points.

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