Hillmen hurt by turnovers in Arnett semis

Kendall Arnett Roundup
By: Nick Pecoraro
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AUBURN– It was Placer’s gym. It was Placer’s host tournament. It just wasn’t Placer’s night Friday against Union Mine.

In the semifinal of the 77th Annual Kendall Arnett Tournament, the Hillmen suffered an unattractive 81-59 loss to the Diamondbacks, who moved on to Saturday’s Arnett championship game against Rio Americano.

A sloppy, turnover-plagued first half by both teams saw the Diamondbacks use a 19-9 second-quarter run to take a 28-22 lead into halftime. Placer led 13-9 after one, but struggled to control the ball and get into a rhythm offensively.

Union Mine continued to do a good job of jumping the Placer passing lanes and creating more turnovers during a 7-0 third-quarter run.

“(Union Mine has) four or five outstanding 3-point shooters,” said Placer’s acting head coach Nate Swesey. “I’m just proud of the way we competed the whole time… They never gave up. They just kept going right to the end.”

The Hillmen played a majority of the game without senior scorer Konner Baroni, who got in early foul trouble in the first half and was icing his right ankle in second half. To add insult to injury, in the midst of all the possession struggles, the Hillmen even went up for a layup – on the wrong basket.

Union Mine, led by Sean Akers’ 25 points and Anthony Vaughn’s 20, out-shot the Hillmen in the 3-point department 11-0.

Placer was led by Max Petrenko’s 16 points while Michael Stuck added 12 for the Hillmen.

Despite a 27-point effort from Baroni Thursday night, the Hillmen had to play catch-up for most of the tourney-opener against new Foothill Valley League opponent Oakmont.

The Hillmen trailed 20-7 after the first quarter, but whittled it down to just a two-point deficit by the start of the fourth and eventually came out victorious with a 63-55 win.

As of Friday night, the Hillmen – a 29-time winner of their host Arnett Tournament – sat at 10-7 in the record column. Placer is set to play Del Campo, who lost to Rio Americano 74-55 Friday night, in the third-place game of the Arnett Tournament Saturday night.

“We’ve had some pretty good competition all year. We’ve seen a lot of different defenses, so we’re getting used to everything,” said Swesey, who was filling in for Placer’s head coach Mark Lee during the Arnett Tournament.

Wednesday, a report surfaced about an alleged “hazing” incident involving Placer’s JV boys basketball team, according to Placer Union High School District Public Information Officer Kristin Conner.

“We take all threats to student safety very seriously, and are taking immediate actions to ensure the safety of all student athletes,” Conner said in a statement to The Journal. “Effective immediately, we have suspended all JV Boys basketball games indefinitely, and have placed several staff on administrative leave as we conduct a thorough investigation.”

Lee, who is also Placer High’s Athletic Director and has coached the boys varsity basketball team for the past 24 years, could not be reached for comment.


Rio rolls into the finals

In Friday’s first semifinal game, Rio Americano improved to 12-2 with a 74-55 win over Capital Athletic League rival Del Campo.

Point guard Jake Paxton hit five treys on his way to a game-high 21 points and Jonah Roth went for 14 for the Raiders. Alec Dennett, Jordan Bryant and Cameron Niles each had 12 to lead Del Campo.

Rio took down Palo Cedro’s Foothill 79-71 Thursday to reach the semifinals.

Del Campo, who opened up with a 79-57 win over Del Oro Thursday, plays Placer for third place in the Arnett Tourney Saturday.


Nevada Union blows past Oakmont in fourth quarter

In a bit of an FVL preview, Nevada Union, who fell to Union Mine 68-58 in Thursday’s opening round, toppled Oakmont Friday to advance to Saturday’s consolation game against Foothill.

A competitive game for three quarters, Nevada Union created some distance in the final frame. The Miners opened the fourth quarter with a 10-0 run over the first four minutes to subdue the Vikings and earn their seventh win of the year.

“We’re seeing (what we want to see) this weekend,” said Oakmont head coach John Hunter on his expectations from his team before league play. “A lot of energy, a lot of effort, team spirit. Guys are playing hard and doing a lot of good things.”

David O’Looney led Nevada Union with 26 points and Josh Ganub paced Oakmont with 17.

Oakmont plays Del Oro Saturday at 3:30 p.m. for seventh place.

Del Oro drops third of last four games

Foothill’s Josiah Hutt and the rest of the Cougars caught fire from beyond the arc in the third quarter to extend their lead over the Golden Eagles to 64-33 before the fourth.

The 85-42 defeat sent Del Oro to the early game Saturday. Mason Mancasola led the Golden Eagles Friday night with 13 points while JD Duley added nine and Jack Welty eight.

Hutt had 19 points to lead Foothill, who as of Friday, was the No. 4-ranked team in the Northern Section. Foothill plays Nevada Union in the consolation game Saturday at 5 p.m.

Del Oro (5-9) plays Oakmont in the seventh-place game Saturday. Del Oro beat the Vikings last weekend, 54-51, in the Mike Takayama Memorial.