American River takes it on the chin at Sierra – twice
Former Placer Hillmen Isaiah Pineiro went into another gear and recorded a double-double to help Sierra College defeat American River College 79-61 Friday in Big 8 Conference play.
“It’s all about defense,” said Wolverines head coach John Fusano. “We went into Consumes River (College) very unfocused defensively and very nonchalant. In our three practices and one game since then, it’s been 85 percent on defense and it’s made a big difference.”
Both clubs went on 10-4 runs to start the game and were tied 14-14 with 11:51 left in the first half. But behind Pineiro's 14 first-half points coupled with a strong Wolverines’ defense, Sierra College held off a late Beavers’ charge to build a 36-24 halftime lead.
“I was getting open and my teammates paraded me,” said Pinerio, who had 30 points and 13 rebounds in the game. “When we focus on defense, the offense will come; we don’t care who scores. When someone’s getting hot, it just happened to be me tonight, we just keep feeding them and everything was going in.”
American River rallied to cut Sierra's lead in the second half. But 3-point shots from Antonio Lewis (Sheldon) and Devin Moss (Rocklin) helped the Wolverines built some confidence. Both players helped Sierra maintain a lead in double figures for the rest of the game.
“Just defense, just get back to our roots,” Pinerio said. “It all starts with defense – get stops. We know if we do that, then our offense will come. We don’t worry about offense.”
The Sierra College women team flexed their defensive muscle and followed up with quick points against American River for a 76-49 Big 8 victory.
“Our full-court press is unstoppable,” said former Del Oro Eagle Taylor Donnot. “When we’re in full court press, it’s really hard to get the ball up the court. And I feel like that’s the biggest part of our defense is to getting those stops, getting those quick boards and that’s what helped us get up real fast.”
Defense set up the Wolverines’ offense, as Sierra led 47-17 at halftime. Donnot and Aliyah Davis (Woodcreek) had six points each in the first half. The Wolverines held the Beavers to zero field goals for 16 minutes.
ARC came out trading blows with Sierra College's second team. But, behind Celeste Vitolas (Oak Ridge) in the post and Alexis Price (El Camino) on the perimeter, the Wolverines kept up their momentum and prevented the Beavers from making any significant runs.
“We notice what the starters and everyone else is doing and we pick up off their energy and just kept it going with our momentum,” said Vitolas.