Fourth quarter rally sends Vikings past Senators |

Fourth quarter rally sends Vikings past Senators

Dave Price

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE – An inspired Carson High School boys basketball team was in position to defeat Northern 4A nemesis South Tahoe on Saturday night.

But then John Giannoni and the rest of the South Tahoe Vikings turned the tables in the fourth quarter to come back and steal a 65-56 victory in a battle between Division II playoff contenders.

Giannoni scored 22 points, including six free throws without a miss during a pivotal stretch in the fourth quarter as South Tahoe rallied from a four-point deficit to improve its division record to 7-1 (19-4 overall) and remain in contention for the Division II championship. The Senators dropped to 5-3 in division (14-9), but still have a shot at second-place and the right to host a first-round zone tournament game.

“Night in and night out, every game is going to be tough from here on,” Giannoni said. “We still have to go to Carson next Friday. It’s going to be tough to win down there, tougher than tonight.”

Carson led by four points at the end of three quarters, only to see South Tahoe turn the tide with a 10-2 run at the outset of the fourth.

“We stepped it up tonight … for three quarters,” said senior guard Nick Zimmerman, who scored 13 points to lead Carson offensively. “It’s just that no matter what you do, they’re (South Tahoe) a great team and they’re tough to beat up here.”

Travis McCollum scored on a tip to open the fourth then Giannoni sank two free throws to tie the score. Giannoni was twice fouled on baseline drives and the 5-foot-8 senior guard converted all four free throws to put the Vikings on top 52-48. Then it was Giannoni winning a race to scoop up a loose ball near midcourt and passing to Andy Butcher for a layup to push lead to 54-48 as Carson coach Tom Andreasen called for time-out with 4:59 showing on the clock.

“Their momentum killed us,” Zimmerman said. “They got a run on us and then the crowd got into it and that really seemed to get them pumped up.”

Carson did make one last run. After Lee Biddlecome took a charge, Cody Longero cashed in by scoring on a drive to the bucket and then Marc Liveratti converted a three-point play to cut South Tahoe’s lead to 60-56 with 57.9 seconds left. The Senators had two opportunities to get closer, but missed one shot and then turned the ball over. Finally,

Rebounding and pressure defense were keys for the Vikings, according to Giannoni.

“They were beating us on the boards a little, but we got in there and started banging and blocking out better, and as a result we were able to come up with some good stops,” said Giannoni, who also handed out five assists to go with five steals.

McCollum and Butcher contributed five rebounds each in the second half for the Vikings.

“Being down by four points going into the fourth quarter was a little bit scary,” South Tahoe coach Tom Orlich said. “Carson has so many weapons; they have a lot of different guys who can hurt and you can only contain them for so long. You always have to worry about Longero and Biddlecome, and I was real impressed with Zimmerman tonight.”

Carson resumes Division II play Tuesday night with a game against Hug in Reno. South Tahoe hosts Wooster on Tuesday and then visits Carson for a rematch on Friday.