Sierra Foothill League Boys Hoops Preview
“Woodcreek and Folsom are still the two big dogs and the other five teams will be competing for positioning. But there are a few X-factors in Woodcreek’s Jordan Brown, Folsom’s Mason Forbes and our Darren Nelson. Even DO has a pair of 6-foot-7 guys. But guys with that size can help teams get over the hump in this league.”
— Granite Bay’s coach Jason Sitterud
With the prep basketball season fully upon us, Gold Country Media takes a look at the teams in the Sierra Foothill League entering the 2016-17 season. Will Folsom repeat as champs again? Will this finally be the year Woodcreek wins an outright title? Will Rocklin, Del Oro, Oak Ridge or Granite Bay make a run to the top?
Woodcreek: Undefeated in preseason play, the Timberwolves return a wealth of talent this season and nearly all of last year's starting rotation. The team is led by their sensational 6-11 center Jordan Brown, who's averaging 24.9 points per game. Seniors Tyrell Roberts and Jackson Hughes can light up the scoreboard as well, while underclassman Delis Boggs-Smith has been a welcomed addition to the starting rotation. The T-Wolves are fresh off a first-place finish at the Gridley Tournament and they should contend for the SFL title this year. Read more about the team's fast start, here.
Folsom: The Bulldogs graduated four starters from last year’s team, including SFL MVP Jordan Ford, along with Tre Finch, Jared Wall and Alec Andrews, so they will look much different this year. The one familiar face returning is 6-8 junior center Mason Forbes, who will be at the center of any success the team has this season. Junior forward Martis Johnson (6-3) also returns. Jayce McCain is new to the backcourt and will be a key player. Folsom senior forward Kris Romberg is a big cog in Folsom’s rotation, but will miss the preseason and could be out for the season with a knee injury. If point guard ElJay Gallegos is cleared by the Sac-Joaquin Section, the team gets a lot more dangerous.
Oak Ridge: 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.
Granite Bay: 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. The 6-foot-8 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 sharpshooting abilities of Steve Trythall and the length of Ryan Smith and Patrick Lambey, gives Granite Bay a legitimate inside-out attack. Read more about the Grizzlies success early this year, here.
Nevada Union: 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. But the team's other key production has moved on. Stepping up in their absence will be 6-foot-4 senior David Colton Clouse and 6-5 senior Elias Weiss-Preszler in the frontcourt, along with junior guard Owen Dal Bon and sophomore Dawson Fay, who was a star for the football team, in the backcourt. Although another playoff trip this year seems tough with such an inexperienced roster, the team is off to a 7-3 start this preseason.
Rocklin: The Thunder have been rebuilding 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. At 2-3, 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.
Del Oro: 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 are off to a 3-3 start. Expected to join Smartt in the starting lineup are 6-7 Trevor Drake, 6-7 Chris Aibuedefe and 6-3 sophomore Dante Pericin. Extra punch for the Golden Eagles will come from guard Pierce Stahlberg and 6-7 Whitney transfer Rob Carmazza.