Trenton Schouten of South Tahoe dribbles past the Greenwave’s Francisco Tapia during a game Dec. 1, 2021 in Fallon. (Photo: Thomas Ranson/LVN)
FALLON — Longtime prep basketball coach Tom Maurer was happy to roam courtside Wednesday after an absence from pacing the sidelines.
The first-year coach of the South Lake Tahoe boys’ team had the Vikings ready to play in a solid win over the defending 3A champs, defeating Fallon 50-25 at the Elmo Dericco Gym.
The Vikings took what they learned in their season-opening 60-47 loss to Union Mine (El Dorado) the night before and parlayed it into a convincing win. Maurer said the Vikings’ defense allowed 25 points from a good team. Compared to SLT teams in the past, Maurer’s squad displayed quickness and aggressiveness against the Wave, which won 3A state titles in 2019 and 2020. Teams did not play during the 2020-21 season because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“The kids are absolutely fun to coach,” Maurer said, adding he fell in love with the community and its support.
Maurer spent most of his high school career coaching Galena and Hug in the Northern 4A, but his respect for the 3A shows with his praise for Fallon’s Chelle Dalager and Elko’s Chris Klekas. Maurer figures Elko will be the team to beat this year because of its senior-dominated team and experience.
Maurer and Dalager said Elko is hungry to capture the elusive state championship. In Fallon’s two state wins, the Greenwave defeated Elko twice, both on 3-point shots in overtime.
“You have some great coaches, and the young ones are doing a heck of a job,” Maurer added.
Maurer and Dalager, though, have had a professional relationship. During Fallon’s two championship years and before, Maurer assisted Dalager when she asked for a pointer or two.
“Coach Maurer is a super talented guy, a good guy. South Tahoe’s lucky to have him,” Dalager said.
On this night, though, Maurer lent his advice and guidance to his players. For the first 4 minutes of the first quarter, both teams attempted to size each other up. Fallon struck first on Tyler Austin’s basket from the right corner, inches from the 3-point arc. Ninety seconds later, the Vikings’ Nicholas Wagner worked the baseline for the team’s first basket.
Andrew Lehmann’s shooting quickly broke the game open. The Vikings’ point guard nailed four consecutive 3-pointers to give the visitors an 11-2 lead. For the final 1:27, South Tahoe outscored Fallon to finish the quarter with a 15-3 lead.
“We have a team that’s never played together,” Dalager said. “A lack of experience makes a difference. They have a lot to learn.”
Dalager also noted Lehmann’s play, especially during the first half.
“He goes to the rim and finishes it (his shots) well,” she said of South Tahoe player, who led all scorers with 24 points.
The Wave tried to match South Tahoe’s physical presence under the basket, but the Vikings controlled the tempo and connected on most of their shots from the paint.
Kai Preston scored 8 points on a 3-pointer, a turn-around bank shot and three free throws, while Lehmann and Wagner each added four points in a 20-8 quarter.
Fallon’s defense played better in the second half, and matched up better with the Vikings in the third quarter. Austin, though, paced the Wave with 8 points, including a long, arcing shot from the right side and a dunk off a fast break. He finished the night in double figures with 12.
Fallon’s feistiness kept the Vikings in check throughout the third quarter with Preston scoring a basket and Lehmann hitting 3 of 4 free throws and a basket.
Preston added 10 points, and Wagner tallied 6.
South Tahoe doubled up on Fallon in the final quarter, 8-4 with both teams slowing the tempo. Lehmann and Mark Jacosalem combined went 6-of-6 from the free throw line, and Evan Orr added a basket while Jace Nelson and Colton Tousignant each sunk a free throw, and Brady Alves drilled a basket for Fallon.
Nelson and Kanigh Snyder each added 4 points, while Alves and Collin Brun each had 2.
Maurer said he’s proud to coach the Vikings, a storied program that dominated the 4A in the late 1980s and 1990s under Coach Tom Orlich. South Tahoe won state titles in 1987 and 1992.
“It’s not my program, but his,” Maurer said. “He established the program… and we need to remember all the things he did for the community.”
Dalager said Fallon has a packed schedule with five games at the Mineral County tournament and then a home games with Sparks on Wednesday and Wooster on Friday.