Wolverines defeat Lakers for inaugural TNT Cup
The Truckee and North Tahoe boys’ basketball teams played in the inaugural TNT Cup on Wednesday night, and after a physical, back-and-forth contest, the Wolverines emerged with a 62-54 victory.
“This early in the season I just want to see them have a certain level of execution and have a certain level of patience,” said Truckee Head Coach Sky Nelson. “For the most part, they followed what I wanted them to do, and they played hard. I wanted pressure on the ball and they put pressure on the ball. That was part of the key to the game for us.”
The game at Truckee High School served as the Wolverines’ season opener, and was the second game for the Lakers, who took a 70-44 win against Sage Ridge earlier in the week.
During the opening half of the matchup, Truckee’s 2-2-1 press defense resulted in numerous Lakers turnovers, helping the Wolverines climb out of an early first-quarter deficit. Sophomore guard Ethan Flynn capped off the period by splitting the Lakers defense for a layup at the buzzer to give Truckee a 14-11 lead.
The Wolverines opened the second quarter by going on a 13-0 run, highlighted by senior Dalton Pruyn’s straightaway 3-pointer off a North Tahoe turnover.
The Lakers first point of the quarter came with 3:20 remaining off of a free throw by senior Liam Bickett-Walsh. After North Tahoe hit its first field goals to cut into the lead, Bickett-Walsh closed the half by burying a 3-pointer at the buzzer to make the score 34-22.
The Lakers then opened the second half by scoring 13 unanswered points, highlighted by Bickett-Walsh finding junior Cameron McAndrews for an open 3-pointer and a 35-34 lead.
The Wolverines finally scored their first points of the half with a little more than three minutes to play in the quarter, converting two free throws to retake the lead. Truckee junior Isaac Cruz would later add the first field goal of the period for the Wolverines, scoring while being fouled after ripping down an offensive rebound. Cruz later tallied two more points to give Truckee a 44-41 lead going into the fourth quarter.
“I was like, ‘Guys, we can’t play like this, we need to win this game,’” said Cruz on the Wolverines’ scoring drought. “Plenty of other players did the same. Everybody brought each other up.”
The teams would exchange leads several times during the fourth quarter, and then with less than 90 seconds left and Truckee holding a 56-54 edge, Pruyn came up with a massive block to prevent the Lakers from tying the game. Pruyn then raced down the floor and hit a floater to give Truckee a four-point lead.
From there, the Lakers turned the ball over, and the Wolverines cashed in on the ensuing free throws to put the game away.
“At halftime it could have gone either way, and so I was really proud how they fought back in second half to take the lead,” said North Tahoe Head Coach Devin Ginty on the Lakers’ effort. “That’s what I love about our team is, I had no question that they were going to fight. These kids have got a lot of heart in them. We just need to clean up some things and get better. It’s still early in the season.”
Cruz led all scorers with 21 points, but did foul out late in the contest.
“I can’t get too aggressive,” he said. “I shouldn’t have fouled out.”
Pruyn was next for Truckee with 16 points. The Wolverines were without starting seniors Spencer Edmondson and Sawyer Thompson.
Bickett-Walsh led the way for Lakers with 14 points, and has stepped into a leadership role for the team.
“It’s great to have a guy that is able to step up like that,” said Ginty. “I think (Bickett-Walsh) has embraced that role and he’s got a good year ahead of him.”
Lakers junior Lucas Valois had a solid evening with 13 points.
“Valois played a very consistent game for us,” said Ginty. “He played a lot of minutes and gave us some scoring and defense when we needed.”
North Tahoe and Truckee each opened play in the three-day Truckee Classic tournament Thursday.
Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at email@example.com.