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Hillmen come up short at Whitney

Placer’s playoff hopes take a hit as Wildcats rally in the second half
By: Russ Edmondson Gold Country News Service
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Whitney High’s varsity boys basketball team held on to beat visiting Placer 62-58 on Wednesday night in Rocklin. The Wildcats (19-6 overall) are now 9-1 in the Pioneer Valley League while the Hillmen (9-15) are 3-6. Whitney swept the season series from Placer, winning 68-56 in the first round of league play. Placer led 15-14 after the first quarter and 27-26 at the half, but Whitney dominated the third quarter 24-16 to take a 50-43 lead heading in the fourth. Whitney junior Cody Borst, a 6-2 guard, scored 15 of his 22 points in the third. Placer fought back in the fourth quarter, getting to within two points twice. Placer’s Zach Aubuchon hit a 3-pointer with 6.4 seconds left to make the score 61-58 but Whitney’s Brenden McCue sunk 1-of-2 free throws two seconds later to seal the victory. Placer coach Mark Lee thought Borst’ third quarter explosion was the difference in the game. “Borst hit three jumpers in a row at one point, a seven-point run and that was the difference,” Lee said. Whitney coach Bryce Newell was even more impressed by the defense of Borst in the third quarter. “Cody got his hand on a bunch of passes,” Newell said. “He is our best defensive player and he had a big game for us.” Junior Josh Klem, 6-2, led Placer with 28 points, 17 in the first half. “Our guys did a really good job of getting (Klem) the ball,” Lee said. “I’m proud of our guys. They executed our game plan to a T — offensively and defensively. And I’m very proud of their effort. (Anthony) Amara did a good job (defensively) on (Jordan) Wilson and (Michael) Jensen did a good job on (Eric) Gee. Whitney’s 6-6 senior Derek Knutty matched Borst with 22 points. Knutty had 13 points in the second half. “Derek just stepped up,” Newell said. “We challenged (the team) at halftime because we weren’t playing very well and Derek made big shots and dealt with foul trouble.” Whitney was fifth in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III power ratings released on Monday while Placer was 22nd. The top 16 teams qualify for the playoffs and the top eight will get a home game in the first round. Placer will host Lincoln on Friday while Whitney will host El Dorado on Friday, both games at 7:30 p.m. Newell is hoping the Wildcats don’t overlook El Dorado as Whitney’s following game, the season finale against Bear River, could be for the PVL title. “It’s been a continuing theme for us — one game at a time,” Newell said. “It’s hard to do that but we have to stay focused.” Colfax 61, Mesa Verde 46 at Citrus Heights — The Falcons got all they wanted from the pesky Mavericks before pulling away in the final four minutes on the road. Sophomore Austin Oberg scored a career-high 21 points and junior Justin Witt added 11 rebounds and eight assists as Colfax bolstered its standings in the power ratings. The Falcons started the week at No. 14 in the Division IV ratings. Kyle Greer scored 15 off the bench and grabbed eight rebounds. Jeff Divine chipped in with 10 points for Colfax (14-10 overall, 5-5 PVL). Del Oro 78, Roseville 46 at Roseville — The Golden Eagles broke open a tight game with a 27-6 run in the third quarter to improve to 7-2 in the Sierra Foothill League. Sophomore Aaron Hendricks led a balanced attack with 18 points. Junior Spencer Butterfield added 17 and junior Nico Ruiz tossed in nine. The Eagles (18-5 overall) trailed by two at halftime before outscoring the home team 49-16 in the second half. In junior varsity action Del Oro beat Roseville 63-29.