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Colfax spoils Placer’s postseason plans

By: Eric J. Gourley Journal Sports Writer
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Katie Cassilagio did everything she could to keep a bitter rival out of the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs. Cassilagio, the lone senior on the Colfax High roster, drilled a wide open 3-pointer with 25 seconds left to lead the Falcons over Placer 53-51 Thursday night at Earl Crabbe Gym. Ranked No. 15 in this week’s Division III power ratings, the Lady Hillmen (9-15 overall, 7-5 Pioneer Valley League) desperately needed a win to keep their postseason hopes alive following a loss at El Dorado Tuesday. Trailing 40-39 after a Cassilagio 3-pointer with 6:27 remaining, Placer used an 11-1 spurt to take its largest lead with 3:04 left in a game that featured six ties and nine lead changes. Cassilagio spurred an answering 11-1 run for Colfax (17-10, 8-4), scoring 10 of her game-high 17 in the fourth quarter of a thrilling PVL finale. “Katie simply took over the game, and that’s something she really hasn’t done,” Colfax head coach Dan Hicks said. “I’ve never asked her to do it. She just took it upon herself to go get the ball and go take some shots that she normally wouldn’t take. She shoots as well from three as she does from two. That’s a better shot, because she gets a better look.” Cassilagio’s game-winner wasn’t exactly devised on a white board. “No one was guarding me so I figured I’d shoot,” she said. “We’re down and we need the points so I just saw an opening and I shot it.” “That’s a huge shot,” Placer head coach Scott Barry said. “You have to give it to her because in a game like that when a high school lady steps up and makes a 3 at that moment in a game, that’s a moment she’s never going to forget.” With the Lady Hillmen in control 50-41, Cassilagio scored eight of her team’s final 11 to lead the Falcons to their seventh win in nine games. “Going into it, I wanted the girls just to have fun,” she said of her younger teammates. “I told them, ‘If we beat them, that’d be amazing. Either way we’re going to playoffs but it’d be really sweet to beat them.’ We just went in trying to have fun but we knew we had to work hard. We were patient and we tried to find each other and in the end we found each other.” Placer missed several good looks at the basket in the final minute. Audrey Furlong launched an open 3-pointer from the top of the key that rimmed out and into the hands of Colfax’s Kacey Capuchino, whose free throw with 3.3 seconds left made it a two-point game. On the final possession, Placer’s Becky Miller lost the ball near half court before she could get off a shot. “The last three-and-a-half minutes of that game seemed like about a month,” Barry said. “We played a little bit tentative and we got those good looks. That tentative nature will cause you to miss that easy shot. There were all kinds of moments within the last minute to really put that game away and we just couldn’t get any of them.” While the Lady Hillmen are a long shot to make the playoffs when the brackets are announced Sunday evening, the Falcons, ranked 13th in the latest Division IV power ratings before a pair of wins this week, figure to open on the road against an upper seed. “I’m hoping to see either Hilmar or LeGrand,” Hicks said. “Linden is right in there. They score a lot of points. They score in the 70s, and we have a hard time getting that many points.” Linden eliminated the Falcons from the playoffs in the second round last year. Madigan led Placer with 16 points, while fellow senior Bailey Bill scored six. Amber Cramer scored nine on 9-of-12 free throw shooting for Colfax, while Campbell and Audrey Lewis finished with eight points apiece.