State Champs; Detwiler rescues Wolverines; Truckee nips Lakers in double OT
Maybe the Tahoe-Truckee High School boys’ basketball team only had a small chance at winning a state championship, but that small chance had a name: Mike Detwiler.
At Lawlor Events Center in Reno Friday night, Truckee pulled out a 73-66 victory in double overtime against rival North Tahoe in the Nevada state championships, the first for Truckee since 1982, when it won as an AA school.
Playing to a crowd of more than 1,000 North Tahoe and Truckee fans, the TTHS boys entered the final game of the championships with something of a Cinderella story; they were the team least expected to make it to the big game.
Truckee wins over Boulder City (60-54) and Moapa Valley (49-40) in the first two rounds made for the unlikely pairing of two Northern California schools playing for the Nevada title.
Throughout the game, North Tahoe held on to the lead, with the Lakers’ Elifonso Soto scoring 21 points.
North Tahoe’s outside shooters couldn’t miss during the first three quarters and during a better part of the fourth quarter.
Then, Truckee head coach Mike Flohr made some adjustments.
The Wolverines were down 10 points, 48-38 with little more than four minutes left in the game, and Truckee had to come out of its zone.
“We picked up man-to-man which sparked us a little,” said Flohr.
Truckee’s defense picked up dramatically, blocking North Tahoe’s outside shots and rebounding successfully.
Aided by several steals from Tom Cruz and mistakes on the Lakers’ end, Truckee crept back into the game, outscoring North Tahoe 12-2 in the final four minutes.
Still, as the final seconds on the clock ticked off, it seemed as though the Lakers had won 50-48.
The North Tahoe crowd roared, but each player on the court knew something was wrong.
“The game’s not over,” an official shouted as he waved his hands.
North Tahoe’s Mike Stokes had fouled Truckee’s Mike Detwiler. He would have two free throws, both of which were necessary in order to send the game into overtime.
Detwiler, an admittedly bad free thrower, stood alone on the court, thousands of voices filling his ears as he nervously bounced the ball, focusing on a single goal: to hit both throws.
The Lakers sat on their bench unable to watch as Detwiler sunk the first one, bringing the score to 50-49.
Suddenly, he was the epitome of the playground dream, the perfect opportunity to either save the game or slump away into oblivion.
Detwiler rose to the occasion.
As TTHS player Dustin Demont sat on his knees, occasionally falling on his face from the agony of anticipation, Detwiler put up a shot that must have hung in the air for a full minute.
It went in, sending the game into overtime at 50-50 and the Wolverines celebrated as though they had won.
“I had lots of thoughts,” Detwiler said. “I thought I could make one shot, but two, I was kind of doubting myself. I wasn’t really shooting free throws good this year. I thought, if I miss it, it’s all right, because we’re not really supposed to be here, you know.”
Detwiler said the game-tying shots were an experience he would never forget.
Throughout the final two overtimes, North Tahoe was in constant foul trouble, and by the end of the fifth period, Truckee again tied it up at 57-57.
North Tahoe’s Stokes and two other starters were out of the game, and fouls in the sixth period were enough to seal a Truckee victory.
During the last four minutes, Truckee went to the free throw line for 16 shots, 10 of which were made.
Despite a game largely led by the Lakers, Truckee outscored North Tahoe 23-16 in the two overtime periods.
Flohr knew it would be tough coming into a championship game against a team which had beaten his boys three out of four times this season.
“I felt pretty good as far as knowing they weren’t going to blow us out, and I really thought if we could put a good game together, we could beat them,” said Flohr.
Marc Logan led the Wolverines with 18 points, while Detwiler and Cody Haas scored 16 each.
After the game, Flohr was in awe of Detwiler’s clutch performance.
“It was an incredible storybook ending to his basketball career,” said Flohr. “With that pressure on him, I don’t have words to say how I feel after that game. His intestinal fortitude was phenomenal.”
After Truckee won the game, the players ran to the center of the floor, where they piled on each other in celebration.
Television crews circled around, getting quotes from Detwiler, Logan and Flohr, while other players ran to the stands where they were greeted with the screams of the Truckee fans.
“The crowd was great and they really could have abandoned us this year,” said Flohr.
“In the beginning of the season we did struggle at home, but the crowds stuck with us.”
Flohr said he will always remember this team, which ended the season at 7-6 in leagues, fondly.
“I have the utmost amount of respect for these kids. I felt unbelievably happy because they deserve it. They’re the ones who really did all the work in this championship; my place in this is very small,” said Flohr. “I prepared them and taught them some things, but inevitably they were the ones who had to get it done on the floor and they did it.”
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