Truckee basketball | Girls drop heartbreaker at South Tahoe
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE – If there was one girl Truckee shouldn’t have fouled in the final 15 seconds of a one-point game, it was Hannah Neiger.
Expressions of relief and confidence spread across the Vikings’ faces as Neiger, who is 11-for-11 in free throws in her last two games, stepped to the line.
“If anyone were to be in that position, I would want it to be Hannah because she always comes through,” teammate Riley Chapman said.
Neiger didn’t delay. She lined up and cleanly knocked down the two shots to carry the Vikings to a 41-40 win, ending Truckee’s nine-game win streak at South Tahoe on Tuesday.
“It was kind of overwhelming, but I just trusted myself,” Neiger said.
As soon as Neiger’s last free throw fell, Truckee didn’t hesitate. The Wolverines charged down court, with senior Jackie Bolton setting up for one last look.
Bolton launched Truckee’s last chance, and for a second, the shot looked dead on. It was close indeed, but the ball bounced off the rim into the hands of Chapman.
The clock ticked in the Vikings’ favor, and with it they earned home-court advantage over the Wolverines in the first round of the Northern Division I-A postseason on Wednesday.
“The girls have nothing to be ashamed of,” Truckee coach Geoff Stephens said. “They played their hearts out and dug in. I couldn’t be prouder.”
And if Tuesday’s game is any indicator, the playoff rematch should be good.
The girls played an evenly matched, clean game of ball.
South Tahoe grabbed an early lead. Four different Vikings scored in the opening five minutes to make it 8-3, but Truckee’s perimeter sniper, Ashley Harris, put down two 3-pointers to keep the Wolverines alive. The score was tied 8-8 after the first quarter.
A 3-pointer from Truckee’s Sydnie English set the tone for the second quarter, and the Wolverines took a 17-13 halftime lead. The Vikings scored just five points in that second quarter, with four coming from Neiger.
But South Tahoe’s Mel Grady shifted the momentum back in Tahoe’s favor in the second half.
Grady came off the bench and hit a huge 3-pointer, tying the game at 19-19. She added a 2-point parting shot with 10 seconds remaining to give the Vikings a 27-26 lead going into the fourth.
Both teams picked up the intensity in the fourth, swapping the lead four times in the final eight minutes.
Truckee regained the lead in the last minute when English grabbed Bolton’s free-throw rebound and made it 40-39.
With 30 seconds left, though, Truckee sent the wrong player to the line for two.
“You’ve just got to play your game and do your job,” South Tahoe coach Mike Neiger said. “There’s going to be a lot of 3’s they’re going to miss and you’ve got to get in position to get the rebounds.”
There were also a lot of free throws that Truckee hit. English, who led the Wolverines with 19 points, knocked in three and so did Harris, for a team total of six.
Bolton added six points and Olivia Duner stepped up in the absence of two key players to also post six points.
“Olivia is normally at two guard, but she had to play point and I thought she played flawlessly,” Stephens said. “She might have played one of her best game this whole year.”
The Vikings kept chipping away, however, spreading the shots among five different players. Neiger led the way with 12 points. Grady wasn’t far behind. She shot 100 percent from the field for 10 points, including her game-tying 3-pointer.
Truckee is now 16-9 overall, 8-2 in Mount Rose League play and 6-4 against the Division IA. South Tahoe improved to 11-11 overall, 7-3 in the Mount Rose League and 5-4 against the IA.
The loss dropped the Wolverines from the No. 4 to the No. 5 playoff seed, meaning they must travel to South Tahoe on Wednesday for a 6 p.m. matchup, instead of hosting the first game of the postseason.
UP NEXT: The Wolverines will close out the regular season at home against North Tahoe on Friday at 6 p.m.
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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.