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Hillmen can’t overcome early 16-2 deficit vs. Del Campo in Kendall Arnett final

By: Matthew Kimel, Journal sports editor
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Had the Hillmen not found themselves in such a deep hole from the get-go, the result may have been different.
Placer matched Del Campo nearly point for point in the championship game of the 71st annual Kendall Arnett — except for the opening four minutes when the Cougars used a 16-2 run to take a lead they would never relinquish. 
Tournament MVP Vasilije Saraba scored 35 points and made 17 of 18 shots from the charity stripe to lead his Del Campo Cougars to their second straight Arnett title with a 78-68 victory over the Hillmen Saturday at Earl Crabbe Gym in front of a rowdy Placer crowd. 
Placer (12-4) clearly would have enjoyed a victory in its own tournament more than the Fair Oaks invaders, but the Cougars (11-3) seemed like the more hungry pack out of the gate. 
“We came out and shot the ball pretty well,” Del Campo coach Dave Nobis said of his team, which jumped out to a 23-6 lead at the end of one. “We came out, we talked about matching their intensity level. We knew how fired up they’d be. I thought our kids responded well and came out ready from the start.”
Nobis hopes to bring his team back to the Kendall next year.
“This is a tremendous tournament,” he said. “Everything is first class. We get such a great experience out of this from the hospitality room to playing on this court to everybody treating us well. It’s great. Coming here and winning is an honor.”
From the middle of the opening quarter until the start of the fourth, the Cougars held a steady double-digit lead even though Placer outscored them in each of the final three quarters. Placer, with the crowd coming to life and going berserk, rallied to within 59-53 after an Isaiah Pineiro breakaway. 
Pineiro, who was held to three points in the first eight minutes, finished with 31 on the night. 
The Hillmen couldn’t close the gap to closer than five points down the stretch as the Cougars kept drilling 3-pointers and foul shots. 
Del Campo finished the night 6 of 10 from beyond the arch, while Placer was just 1 of 7. The Cougars were 22 of 24 from the foul line. 
Peter Kean (10 points) and Michael McNamara (seven points) were named to the all-tournament team, as was Pineiro. 
Reach Matthew Kimel at matthewk@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @matthewkimel