First-place Placer boys beat Foothill

By: Matthew Kimel, Journal sports editor
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The Hillmen didn't even need to score a bucket in the fourth quarter to beat Foothill.

They were money from the free-throw line. 

Placer connected on 13 of 16 foul shots in the final stanza and the Hillmen used a 59-50 victory over the Mustangs Friday night at Earl Crabbe Gym to vault into first place in the Pioneer Valley League boys basketball standings. 

“We were shooting pretty darn good,” said Michael McNamara, who was 4 for 4 on free throws in the fourth. “We expect ourselves to go up there and be confident and make our shots and we did.”

Isaiah Pineiro had a team-high 16 points and 15 rebounds and McNamara added 12 points for Placer (17-5, 4-1), which led 35-27 at halftime. 

The Hillmen were up 46-39 at the end of three. But with four minutes to go, Placer’s advantage had been cut to 47-43. That’s when the Hillmen, who attempted just four field goals in the final frame, were repeatedly sent to the charity stripe. 

Pineiro was on a tear early, scoring 11 points in the first eight minutes. But the Foothill defense was able to contain him from scoring much the rest of the game.

“They played excellent post defense,” Placer coach Mark Lee said of Foothill. “They were shading (Pineiro) with three guys. So we were trying to move the ball and get some stuff for McNamara and we did.”

Placer got other key contributions from Andrew Dahlin (seven points, seven rebounds), Peter Kean (15 points) and Brennan Entz (seven points).

Anthony Williams scored 16 points and DeShun Clay added 13 for the Mustangs, who fell to 10-12, 3-2 with the loss.  

The Hillmen are hoping they can keep their first-place positioning throughout the second half of the season.

“We need to keep being aggressive,” McNamara said of what his team needs to do to try and win the PVL title. “It seems to work quite well, keep doing what we’re doing.”

Lincoln (17-5, 4-1), which lost to Placer Wednesday, defeated visiting Colfax (17-5, 3-2) in Lincoln Friday, 57-46. Placer and Lincoln are the only one-loss teams in the PVL at the halfway point of the league season. 

Placer plays four of its final five regular season games on the road.

The Hillmen don’t seem too concern about playing away games, though.

“We play better on the road than we do at home,” said Lee, adding that his team shoots better outside of the friendly confines of Earl Crabbe Gym.

Placer’s only PVL loss came against Colfax in Auburn. The two rivals square off next Friday at Colfax. But first, Placer has a 7 p.m. date at Center Wednesday.

Reach Matthew Kimel at Follow him on Twitter @matthewkimel