The Lake Tahoe School Bobcats took up an invitation to play on the 53rd Annual Winter Classic Optimist Basketball Tournament over Martin Luther King weekend. Each year, highly competitive 8th grade basketball teams from California and Nevada gather at South Tahoe Middle School to play in the 3-day tournament.

This marks the first time that a small school from the Tah-Neva league has been able to play in this tournament. The LTS team was matched up against schools that were much bigger and more experienced, yet that did not stop them from finishing the tournament with a 2-2 record and making the consolation championship final.

The Bobcats opened the tournament against the #1 seed Martinez Jr. High School. Against a highly skilled and tall Martinez team the Bobcats fought gallantly but were unable to match their opponents and lost 45-17. Martinez Jr. HS went on to finish the tournament 4-0 and win the championship game against Seven Hills Middle School.

The LTS boys then moved on to the consolation quarterfinal game against Jackson Jr. High School. Jack Ludviksen started the game by making consecutive three pointers in the opening minutes and from there the Bobcats were rarely challenged. Trey Casini and Dean Cafferata-Jenkins played tough down low and the Bobcats went on to win the game comfortably 33-24.

The boys then moved on to the consolation semifinal against Magnolia Middle School. In a tightly contested game, Brody Thralls, Ben Rock, and Nicholas Patrick had fantastic games. Nicholas Patrick hit the go-ahead basket with a minute to play and the LTS team held on to win a hard-fought game 48-43.

On Sunday morning, the boys returned for the consolation final game. Playing against a deep and talented team from Mark Twain Middle School, the Bobcats struggled to match the perimeter shooting of their opponents. Jack Ludviksen had another strong game, along with Lukas Burton, Shane Green, and Kade Martinez contributing with timely defense and scoring. But it wasn’t enough as Mark Twain MS pulled away late to win 56-36.

Coach Kris Nugent was extremely proud of his team after the final game, “It has been a great tournament for this squad. It’s incredible to watch our small private school battle against much larger schools and not be intimidated. It’s an honor to coach a team of such outstanding young men – they play the game the right way; they work hard, play for each other, and never give up.”