Rivalry lives up to hype: Truckee takes down North Tahoe
Brain McMullen attacked from the outside, Jamie Maehler from the inside, and Jeff Hansen got inside North Tahoe players’ heads.
That was Truckee’s winning recipe in its first league victory on Tuesday night.
In a game that the Truckee High School boys’ varsity basketball team never trailed in, storming out to a 13-2 lead, McMullen, a senior, and Maehler, a junior, provided 18 points each as the Wolverines cruised to a 57-47 win to beat cross-town rivals North Tahoe.
“We needed to stay patient and continue to work hard on our defense,” said Josh Jansen, Truckee’s head coach. “When they closed the gap, we started making the extra pass on offense and worked extra hard on defense and that’s how we jumped out to that big lead.”
When the dust settled, after a McMullen quickstrike dropped three bombs from the three-point line a few minutes into the first quarter, the Lakers of North Tahoe found themselves down by 10 at the end of the period (15-5).
The Lakers would get within four to start the third quarter, but the drama centered around Truckee’s Hansen may have distracted North Tahoe’s focus on winning.
In Dennis Rodmanesque fashion, Hansen, a junior, who ironically did not score a single point in the game, may have been as instrumental as McMullen and Maehler in Truckee’s victory.
If there was a scrum for the ball, Hansen would be there. If Truckee’s crowd was quiet for a second, Hansen would cup his hand against his ears and beckon for them to keep cheering. Hansen, whose shaggy, curly hair was full of sweat on this night, was definitely the center of attention.
At least on this night, Hansen was Truckee’s version of “The Worm.” His gutty performance and scrappy antics did not sit well with a few Lakers players and some lost control.
As tempers and emotions flared, in a packed and rowdy Truckee gym, North Tahoe’s Brian Carrillo picked up the first of three technical fouls against the Lakers midway through the third quarter. Spencer Wright picked up the second two possessions later. Both technicals yielded six easy points for Truckee.
“We’ve got to avoid those,” North Tahoe’s head coach Dave Hansen said. “That was a six point swing.”
The technical fouls came in the middle of a 21-3 Truckee run in which the Wolverines were able to regain a 22-point lead to end the third quarter (45-23).
Carrillo, who finished with 12 points, was the only Laker to finish in double digits.
Earlier in the game, as a result of tough defensive play, North Tahoe sparked an offensive explosion before halftime. After two straight steals, the Lakers capped off an 8-0 run that cut the Wolverine’s lead to 24-18.
When the Lakers returned from halftime, they got a quick bucket to cut the lead to 24-20, but the subsequent turnovers and technical fouls allowed the Wolverines to rebuild their lead.
“Truckee played four quarters of hard basketball,” coach Hansen said. “We played two, and that’s a trend for us.”
Despite the intense drama that dominated the game, there was an uplifting moment for one Truckee player, junior Victor Diaz. Answering to the crowd’s chants of “We want Victor,” Diaz, who has not received much playing time this season, was inserted into the game in the fourth quarter. His large smile was a welcome sight on a night that featured many grudges. And Diaz was on the court when time ran out to preserve his team’s victory.
McMullen’s 18 points represented his highest point total of the season and his best all-around effort, said Jansen, who is in his first season as Wolverines’ head coach. Maehler must continue his consistent inside play if Truckee wants to make a playoff run this year.
These teams meet again Jan. 30 at North Tahoe starting at 7:30 p.m., in what should be a very entertaining rematch.
Truckee is now 1-1 in the Northern 3A, improving its overall record to 4-8. It takes on last year’s division champion Rite of Passage on Friday and Fernley on Saturday. Both games are at home.
North Tahoe’s record dips to 2-9 and 0-3 in the Northern 3A.
Tripp Mickle of the Tahoe World contributed to this article.
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Students frustrated at the cancellation of sports waved signs and delivered speeches at a Truckee High School protest in an attempt to return to the field this year.