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Del Oro girls, Granite Bay boys grind out key SFL wins

By: Cameron Salerno
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Coming into Friday night, both Granite Bay and Del Oro’s playoff hopes were still alive on the girls’ as well as the boys’ side.

Although the winner of the girls game would get an automatic ticket to the postseason by virtue of finishing in the top-four of the Sierra Foothill League, the boys’ winner would need a little bit more luck. The only way playoffs were possible on the boys’ side is finishing in Top-15 of MaxPreps’ computer rankings, which would give that team an at-large berth by the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section playoff committee.

In the girls’ game, thanks to a big third-quarter run by Del Oro, the Eagles overcame a 27-30 halftime deficit to knock off Granite Bay, 67-45. The win gave Del Oro the final automatic berth.

“In the second half, we probably played our best half of basketball all year,” Del Oro girls coach Shawn Huckaby said. “Most of our shots were assisted in the half and everyone was being a good teammate.”

The first half featured a back-and-forth game that saw Del Oro lead 15-12 at the end of the first and trail 27-30 at halftime. The third quarter is when all the momentum changed in the Eagles’ favor.

“I thought the third quarter we really changed the momentum of the game,” Huckaby said. “We started to play good offense and defense, which helped us take a big lead.”

Del Oro went on a 23-3 third-quarter run to take a 50-33 lead into the final frame. Strong defense down the stretch helped the Eagles seal the victory. Jenna Duley lead Del Oro with 21 points.

“(Jenna) played with a lot of confidence tonight,” Huckaby said. “She really shot the ball well in the second half and made the right plays.”

Del Oro (22-6, 5-5) will finish in fourth place with the section’s playoff seeding set for Saturday.

“We felt like tonight was such a big game for us,” Huckaby said. “I think now, we will feel a lot more comfortable watching the selection show.”

Granite Bay (13-14, 4-6), who although finished outside the top four is still expected to receive an at-large berth. Sage Smith led the Grizzlies with 12 points.

“I hope the committee (Saturday) looks at how tough our schedule was and take in to account we have played a lot of good teams,” Granite Bay girls head coach Paul Shafto said. “All we can do is let our schedule talk for itself and hopefully we get in.”

 

The boys game brought a packed house, a loud crowd and a playoff-like atmosphere. Despite both teams’ 1-8 record in the league, they played like it was do-or-die all night.

Behind a game-high 21 points from Doug Christie, Jr. on Senior Night as his dad looked on, Granite Bay (9-19, 2-8) knocked off Del Oro (8-18, 1-9), 66-51.

“For me, all my life I have been trying to look up to my dad,” Christie, Jr. said. “He has been there for me every step of the way, so having him there tonight was a blessing.”

The Grizzlies got off to a hot start early, thanks in large part to a relentless Granite Bay zone trap defense. However, the biggest play of the first half came when Granite Bay senior Adam Honer threw down a big two-hand jam that got the Granite Bay student section on its feet. They would use that momentum to head to the locker room up 33-19.

“Honer has been awesome for us all year,” Granite Bay head coach Jason Sitterud said. “He is a three-year varsity guy and has been a key guy for us that whole time. No one works harder than him. He deserved that moment.”

Coming out of the locker room, Del Oro found a new life in the third quarter. Behind some big 3-point shots and pressure defense, Del Oro cut the Granite Bay lead to three going into the final frame.

“Our team started making some shots,” Del Oro head coach Luke Vaughn said. “Our effort started to go up in the second half as well, so that helped us cut down the lead they had.”

The answer to keeping the Grizzlies’ playoff hopes alive was the shooting of Christie, Jr. in the fourth. In that final frame, he channeled his dad as he shot the lights out, scoring 11 points in the fourth quarter and helping Granite Bay sneak past a gritty Del Oro team.

“(Doug) hadn’t played in the last six games, so tonight was his first one back,” Sitterud said. “I could tell, especially in that fourth quarter, he was pretty energized to be back out there.”

For Del Oro, Rylan Dunmore led his team with 12 points. Despite Del Oro’s tough schedule, Vaughn remains optimistic his team might be able to get into the playoffs with an at-large bid.

“I would love to have a playoff game,” he said. “I think if our team got in the playoffs, we would have as good a chance as anybody else.”

As for Granite Bay, with the win, the Grizzlies’ chances of making the playoffs just got a whole lot higher. With one of the top MaxPreps rankings in the Sac-Joaquin Section, Granite Bay remains hopeful to hear their names called during the selection show Saturday.

“I think if we do get in, we will be a 14- or 15-seed,” Sitterud said. “I’m feeling really optimistic for (Saturday’s) selection show.”