Monday Jan 02 2017
T-Wolves, Bulldogs look to be class of SFL boys hoop race
By: Mike Ray, of the Auburn Journal
Woodcreek, Folsom take state rankings into start of league action
Just as in recent seasons in football where the Sierra Foothill League has been touted as one of the top prep grid leagues in Northern California, the same can be pretty much said for the SFL in regards to boys basketball.
With SFL play starting Tuesday evening, six of the seven SFL teams have posted winning records following last week’s final holiday tournaments.
In addition, the league’s two big boys – Woodcreek and Folsom - were running 1-2 in the most recent MaxPreps Sac-Joaquin Section Div. I rankings. Also, at a higher step, the T-Wolves were 7th in MaxPreps’ last week’s state large school rankings while Folsom was 21st in the same poll.
Here’s a quick capsule look at this season’s SFL boys hoop chase:
1. Woodcreek (11-2) - The T-Wolves took a perfect preseason record into this week’s Holiday Classic in Rancho Mirage. Once again, Woodcreek returns a bevy of talent this season including four starters from last season’s starting rotation that went 20-9 and finished second in the SFL. Leading the way for the T-Wolves is hughly-regarded 6-11 center Jordan Brown, a national recruit who's averaging 24.9 points per game. Seniors Tyrell Roberts and Jackson Hughes and 6-6 junior Chris Cagle are also key players. Chico High transfer Delis Boggs-Smith has also provided spark.
2. Folsom (11-3) : The Bulldogs bid farewell through graduation to four starters from last year’s league championship team. However, expect Folsom to be in the thick of the hunt with 6-8 junior center Mason Forbes leading the way. Junior forward Martis Johnson (6-3) also returns. Jayce McCain is new to the backcourt and will be a key player. Folsom will become even more dangerous when Bella Vista transfer ElJay Gallegos becomes eligible.
3. Del Oro ( 10-4 ): The Golden Eagles have the height and experience to be a contender in the SFL this season. Despite not playing with three-year starting point guard Stone Smartt because of an extended football season, the Golden Eagles got off to a solid start. Smartt returned for the Kendall Arnett and had one outing where he went for 26 points. Expected to join Smartt in the starting lineup are 6-7 Trevor Drake, 6-7 Chris Aibuedefe and sophomore Dante Pericin. Extra punch for the Golden Eagles will come from guards Pierce Stahlberg and Murphy Harrison.
4. Granite Bay (9-5) : Despite returning only one starter from a year ago, the Grizzlies should have the talent to compete with any team in the SFL this year, and that one starter is a big reason. Six foot-8 inch Darren Nelson is back for his final season, finally healthy after a bad ankle injury that kept him out of the playoffs last year. His inside presence, paired with the sharp shooting abilities of Steve Trythall and the length of Ryan Smith and Patrick Lambey, gives Granite Bay a legitimate inside-out attack.
5. Nevada Union (8-6) : After reaching the playoffs last year, the Miners will have a new look in 2016-17. The team graduated seven seniors this past spring, but returns the team's third-leading scorer, Gary Menary, who averaged 10.9 points per game last season. Also expected to be threats for the Miners are 6-foot-4 senior David Colton Clouse and 6-5 senior Elias Weiss-Preszler along with junior guard Owen Dal Bon and sophomore Dawson Fay.
6. Rocklin (9-6): The Thunder have been in a rebuilding mode since the departure of Coach Steve Taylor in 2010, but this year, Taylor is back. Fans shouldn’t expect miracles overnight or even this season, but the team has a goal in sight. Rocklin is averaging 63 points per game on offense and giving up 68 to opponents. An inexperienced Thunder squad will have to rely heavily on senior point guard Trace O’Brien to make plays, but they should give teams a hard time this season thanks to the experience of Taylor and his coaching staff.
7. Oak Ridge (5-9) : The Trojans return only three varsity players from last year’s team and only two, Spencer Duane and Koelbe DiMauro, saw significant minutes. New coach Rich Sondhi replaces Bobby Edwards, as even the leader of the basketball program has changed since last year. Duane moves to point guard this year and at 6-5, should have a big height advantage against most teams. The Trojans have struggled out of the gate, but will only improve as they gain experience.