Wolverines edge past the Lakers
The rivalry between neighbors has proven to be a mismatch all season. So, Friday, when the North Tahoe Lakers traveled to Truckee for the season ending grudge match, not many fireworks were expected
The Tahoe-Truckee Wolverines varsity boys’ basketball team had very little at stake. The Wolverines (9-1, 18-8) had already clinched the 3A Division I title, having defeated the Lakers two times this season by an average point spread of more than 25 points. The game was a chance for the Truckee team to flex its muscle, putting a cap on its dominant season.
For North Tahoe, the game meant winning or being done. Following a three game winning streak against different division opponents, the Lakers (4-6, 9-15) had put themselves in playoff contention. A win at Truckee would’ve turned their 1-5 regular season start and two prior losses against the Wolverines from a blight to a Cinderella story. Everything was at stake for the Lakers.
It was not to be.
The Wolverines boys’ varsity basketball team defeated the Lakers, 54-48, Friday, in a game that was littered with nuances. The Lakers, for example, rained three pointers but were denied a single free throw in the game. Truckee, as has been the case throughout the season, depended on one strong quarter.
The Lakers came out strong and took a lead at the end of the first period, 12-11, on a three point shot by Andy Cummings as the clock ran out. The three-point shot was Cummings’ first of four on the afternoon and North Tahoe’s eight in the game.
Truckee regained a one-point lead at half time after a defensive battle in the second period when the Wolverines and Lakers were held to seven and five points, respectively.
Truckee owned the third quarter. The Wolverines, led by Mark Logan, who finished the quarter with seven points, outscored the Lakers 19-6 and finished the quarter leading, 37-23. Logan finished as the game’s leading scorer with 23 points. His average of 23.1 points per game (600 points in 26 games) leads all Nevada state high school players this season.
The Lakers, though, refused to be counted out. Five three pointers and a couple of strong rallies nearly brought the Lakers back in the fourth quarter.
“We made a decent run there at the end,” Park said. “Maybe I should have pressed earlier. We were getting the turnovers and good rallies – which we knew it would take – but then we’d miss dead sort of cinch lay-ups. We basically threw a bunch of bricks. Had we made some of those shots, we could’ve maybe won the game.”
The Lakers, after being held to single digit scoring in the prior two quarters, erupted for 25 fourth quarter points. In a three minute span early in the quarter, Cummings, Adam Ditili, Miles Miller and John Wojcik contributed to a 12-4 scoring run to cut the Wolverine lead to six. Taking advantage of a lull in the Lakers’ serge, Truckee’s Logan and Mark Thiel stretched the lead back to 12. The Lakers regained momentum with 3:10 remaining in the contest and, by the time the clock had ticked to 1:18, battled to within five points, 47-42. That’s as close as the Lakers came.
Nine of Truckee’s 17 fourth quarter points came from the freethrow line. The Wolverines were good for 20 of 29 attempts, including Thiel who, after struggling this season, shot 9-11 from the line. Thiel had 15 points in the game. David Larson had 11 points for the Wolverines.
“The refs did an outstanding job,” Park said, “but I’ve never played a whole game without getting one free throw attempt. We just didn’t go hard to the basket. That’s when you get fouls.”
Cummings finished the game with 14 points to lead the Lakers.
The Wolverines will play at home against the Fernley Vacqueros in the first round of the playoffs starting Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The Wolverines defeated the Vacqueros twice this season, 77-74 at home and 80-69 at Fernley. Both games were determined in the closing minutes of the competition following several lead changes.
“They always play us well,” Gray said.
The Vacqueros, the Spring Creek Spartans and the Rite of Passage Rams finished in a three-way tie for second place, all with 5-5 division records. The Vacqueros were defeated by the Spartans on Saturday, Feb. 12, 78-61 and with a 1-3 record against the against ROP and Spring Creek, were dropped to the fourth place position. ROP, having gone 3-1 against the teams, claimed second place and Spring Creek finished third at 2-2.
The Spartans and the Rams will play at Truckee, Friday, beginning at 6 p.m.
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