Navigating perhaps the toughest portion of its Foothill Valley League basketball schedule, the Placer Hillmen woke up Saturday morning in sole possession of the league lead.
Thanks to a thrilling 49-48 overtime win on Homecoming night Friday at Nevada Union, the Hillmen escaped Grass Valley with a key FVL victory. Coupled with Lincoln’s shocking 68-63 loss to Oakmont, the Hillmen have grasped the league lead with a 5-1 mark.
“It was a great atmosphere,” said Placer coach Mark Lee. “The gym was packed. Their band was right behind us and it was so loud we couldn’t hear anything. It’s really what high school basketball is all about.”
The Hillmen and Miners were knotted 45-45 at the end of regulation but in the extra session, Placer used buckets from Michael Stuck and Max Petrenko to offset a 3-pointer by NU’s Ryan Werner.
Placer had led 31-20 at halftime but NU got back into the game by going on a 13-9 third-quarter run and then a 12-5 difference in the fourth period.
Konner Baroni led Placer (15-9, 5-1) with 17 points while Petrenko followed with 14. Ian Howes and Owen Tucker both scored five points apiece and Stuck and Peyton Harbour added four each.
Placer’s defense did a good job on NU’s 6-foot-6-inch David O’ Looney, limiting the Miners’ scoring leader to 15 points after he had scored 39 against Rio Linda on Wednesday.
The win at Nevada Union came on the heels of Placer’s 59-52 victory last Wednesday at Lincoln. The Zebras entered the fray undefeated in FVL action but Placer, which trailed by seven points with 3:50 to play, outscored the Zebras 7-2 down the stretch for the win.
“The league is really tough and balanced this year,” said Lee. “I really think any team is capable of beating any other on a given night. For us to go into Lincoln and NU and get two wins on the road was really big.”
Placer 59, Lincoln 52
Placer, which trailed after three quarters, 43-30, put the Zebras away with its 19-7 fourth-quarter blitz. Baroni with 28 points, including 16 in the second half, sparked the Hillmen. Baroni also grabbed 12 rebounds. Petrenko netted 13 more for the winners while Howes contributed seven points, grabbed five rebounds and dealt out six assists.
Placer hosts Rio Linda Wednesday and Oakmont Friday in FVL.
Bear River 71, Foothill 66
The Bruins began the game in a 19-2 hole Friday night at Lake of the Pines before using some keen outside shooting to take down the Mustangs for the second time this season.
Trailing 22-7 after a quarter, the Bruins fought back and went into halftime down 41-29. The Bruins continued on the comeback path in the second half and eventually overtook the stunned visitors midway in the fourth quarter.
Brekyn Vasquez and Justin Powell powered the win with 25 and 24 points, respectively. Vasquez scored 18 in the middle two quarters while Powell, who has set a new Bear River record for 3-pointers in a season, had six treys.
Bear River is now 13-9 overall and 4-2 in PVL play. The Bruins host Colfax at 7 p.m. Friday.
Marysville 59, Colfax 52
The Falcons played one of their better Pioneer Valley League games in making the Indians work for the seven-point win. Colfax, which trailed 34-19 at halftime, cut the Marysville lead to 48-40 at the end of three stanzas.
Jake Green led Colfax (0-6, 6-13) with 19 points while Mike LaVigne added 11.
Forest Lake Christian 63, Futures 48
The Falcons downed Futures with a strong fourth quarter. Forest Lake led 11-10 after a quarter and extended it to 30-22 at halftime.
Forest Lake (11-11, 5-5 ) is tied with Woodland Christian (14-8, 5-5) and Encina Prep (8-11, 5-5) for third place in the Central Valley California League. Foresthill (14-8, 9-1) is in first, and Sacramento Waldorf (19-4, 8-2) is in second.