Del Oro win streak comes to end

Nevada Union stops Eagles' winning streak at 63
By: Justin A. Lawson Journal Sports Writer
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LOOMIS – While the foreign cheers of a Sierra Foothill League opponent reverberated off the walls of Paul Yokote Gym for the first time since 2006 Friday, Del Oro High walked off the court with their heads hung low. The Golden Eagles witnessed their winning streak of 63 league games come to end and all the favorable bounces they had over that time weren’t there when they needed to reach 64. Nevada Union (5-0 SFL, 11-10) weathered a relentless shooting night from star guard Brianna Ruiz for a 44-42 victory to become the first SFL team to beat Del Oro (4-1, 12-9) since Placer did it in the 2005-06 season. “It’s a tough game but we’ve got to keep our heads up and win the rest of our games,” said Ruiz, who left the locker room in tears. “We’ll come back.” Of the past six seasons, this season was going to be the true test of Del Oro’s might. Ruiz was the only returning player that saw significant playing time in last year’s run to the state tournament. The Eagles nearly saw the streak end in their first SFL game of the season when they squeaked past Rocklin, 47-45, on Jan. 13. Ruiz was the focal point of the Golden Eagles’ attack from the start but in the waning minutes the Miners’ defense kept her in check. She hit baseline layup with 3 minutes, 56 seconds remaining to pull within 39-38. Both teams exchanged missed opportunities on the next several possessions as Miners guard Sydney Porter missed two layups and Del Oro center Stephanie Geyer missed the front end of a one-and-one free throw attempt that would have tied the game. Porter came back to hit a reverse layup with 2:02 left in the game and Geyer responded with a three-foot jumper of her own to keep the Eagles within one. Nevada Union guard Kaylin Martin hit one of two free throws to take a 42-40 lead but the Miners’ defense failed to rotate on Ruiz as she drove the baseline and laid in the game-tying basket with 14.2 seconds remaining. After a timeout, the Miners inbounded the ball from half court where seconds later Paige McKim was hit for a blocking foul on Porter that surprised even Nevada Union fans. Porter, who led the Miners with 17 points, hit both free throws and Geyer was left at half court with no one to pass to after Del Oro inbounded the ball. The junior picked up a travelling call with 1.9 seconds remaining and Nevada Union finished the game with the ball in its hands. “I can’t describe how I feel right now,” Nevada Union coach John McDaniel said. “I had trouble containing my emotions inside the timeout I called there at the end to congratulate the girls. It’s just an exciting win for us and the girls were amazing.” The Eagles tried to establish Ruiz’s scoring ability early against Lauren Mickel as she shot eight of the team’s first 10 attempts, but the 6-foot sophomore handled Ruiz throughout the night. Ruiz finished with a game-high 22 points but faced constant pressure Mickel. “We kind of felt that she was going to be able to take her off the dribble a little bit because Bri’s a little bit quicker than she is,” Del Oro coach Mike Takayama said. “I thought Bri did a good job attacking the basket” The Miners took Geyer’s post threat away for much of the game as the junior, who leads the team in scoring with 14.9 points per game, finished with just eight points. The inability to attack the basket also kept the Eagles off the free throw line. They had just 11 attempts in the game against the Miners’ aggressive defense that saw bodies banging early and often. “Every year we come in and we try to not think about the win streak or whatever but at the same time it’s just one of those things we’re all exhausted, we gave it everything we had,” Takayama said. “Could we have played better? Yes, but we played very hard. We made plays down the stretch to get ourselves back in and give ourselves a chance to win. We got called for a block late and those things happen.”