Del Oro boys headed to final

Eagles to face No. 1 Sacramento late Friday
By: Eric J. Gourley, Journal Sports Writer
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GALT — The last time Del Oro High played for a section title, head coach Geoff Broyles was instructing the school’s junior varsity squad. Standout guard Spencer Butterfield’s game was limited to elementary school playgrounds and recreation league courts. “I wasn’t even thinking about Arco yet,” the junior joked after scoring a game-high 24 points and sinking two clutch free throws in the final seconds to seal the Golden Eagles’ 50-46 win over Foothill in a Sac-Joaquin Section Division III semifinal Wednesday night. No. 2 Del Oro (22-7) advanced to the section championship at Arco Arena Friday for the first time since 1998. The Eagles will face top seed Sacramento, which knocked off No. 5 Whitney 62-47. “It’s amazing,” said Butterfield, who finished with 12 rebounds. “No words can describe it. I’m so pumped right now. I’m ready to go show Sac High what’s up.” Del Oro led 37-35 entering the fourth quarter and extended the advantage to 46-39 on Butterfield’s layup with 3:55 left before surviving a late rally by the No. 3 Mustangs (22-8). “I’m just so happy for our kids who have worked so hard all year,” Broyles said. “They’ve been incredibly resilient. I feel privileged to coach these young men.” Foothill used a 7-2 spurt to pull to within a basket with less than two minutes remaining in a game that was close throughout, but Butterfield rebounded a Mustangs miss and was fouled with 8.3 seconds left. He sank both free throws to put the game out of reach. “I was just trying to focus in on the hoop with the loud crowd and everything,” said Butterfield, who outshined Foothill guard Mike Exford, the Mustangs’ leading scorer with 20. “The guy just does it every single night,” Broyles said of Butterfield. “He has such a will to win, such a will to make big plays for us, whether on the offensive end or the defensive end. It’s a treat to watch him.” Foothill led 9-3 late in the first quarter before Del Oro rode Butterfield’s hot hand to close the gap. Consecutive second quarter steals by Aaron Hendricks resulted in quick layups. Point guard Brian Rowe mirrored the sophomore’s display just seconds later to give the Eagles a 22-19 lead midway through the second quarter. Friday’s title tilt is slated to tip off at 9 p.m. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to play an outstanding team,” Broyles said. “Everybody looks at Sac High as kind of the king of D-III. It’s a great opportunity for our kids to test themselves, but we’re going to approach it like we approach every other game. It’s a big opportunity, but at the same time we can’t lose sight of what made us successful.” The Dragons, also the top seed last year, fell to No. 2 El Camino 89-76 in the 2008 championship. “Sac High has an intimidation factor,” said Del Oro post Jon Root, who finished with nine points and six rebounds in the semifinal win. “They beat teams with intimidation. You just have to keep your cool and stay confident like we were today.”