By Steve Yingling
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. - On the Vikings' senior night, it was several juniors playing key roles in continuing South Tahoe High's push to make the playoffs.
Junior Kyle Dupree, Chris Klug and Danny Vallejo combined for 26 points as the STHS boys rallied to beat Carson 61-56 in a Sierra Division basketball game Tuesday night.
South Tahoe, which entered the game in a fifth-place tie with North Valleys, raised its division mark to 5-7 with a season sweep of the Senators. The top four teams qualify for next week's regional tournament.
"Our juniors really stepped up and did a great job," said STHS coach Chris Proctor.
Carson (4-9), which needed the victory to stay in the playoff hunt, led throughout the second and third quarters. But the Vikings took the lead for good, 41-39, on a baseline three-pointer by Vallejo. A tip-in by senior Vince Capellino ended a 10-0 run as the Vikings led 46-39 with 5 minutes remaining.
"This is Carson-Tahoe, and it's always going to be a tough game, no matter what the teams are doing, where the teams are at in league," Proctor said.
Carson didn't quit, rallying after the Vikings went into the foul bonus with 4:21 left. Paul Cagle and Brian Barnes each buried a pair of free throws to pull the Senators within 48-45 with 2:29 to go. The latter foul was a double blow for STHS as senior point guard Chris Eidam was disqualified with his fifth personal.
Following a basket by Capellino, Kalvin Case sank two free throws, making the score 50-47 with 2:03 left.
Capellino cashed in a steal by Tony Stagnaro for a three-point play, putting the Vikings ahead 53-47 with 1:45 remaining. Stagnaro added a pair of foul shots 41 seconds later to give the Vikings an insurmountable eight-point lead. Carson's Caleb Carter, however, responded with a layup and following a Viking miss at the foul line, Matt Rutlege converted another layup to make the score 55-51 with :37 left.
"We decided, hey, let's step it up," Dupree said. "We have a new coach, who is coaching us good. We just want to step it up and make the playoffs."
Cerceo and Dupree each made two free throws down the stretch to put away the Senators.
Capellino led the Vikings with 18, while Dupree added 12. Carter had 17 points and Cagle 12 for the Senators. Capellino, Stagnaro, Cerceo, Eidam and Brendan Rice played their final home game for the Vikings.
South Tahoe (7-14 overall) will play a makeup game at Douglas tonight at 7.
"This worked out some of the bugs and got a little pressure off of them, even though they still need to win everything," Proctor said.
Carson coach Bruce Barnes was unavailable for comment.