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Hillmen denied by T-Wolves

Woodcreek’s defensive pressure wears on Hillmen, who fade down the stretch
By: Todd Mordhorst Journal Sports Editor
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Woodcreek High turned up the defense and spread the ball around nicely Thursday night at Earl Crabbe Gym. It was the perfect strategy against a Placer squad that survived a marathon on Wednesday night.
Facing the short-handed Hillmen, who were coming off a double-overtime win over San Juan, the Timberwolves pushed the pace and flustered the Hillmen with their physical defense. Woodcreek pulled away for a 62-47 win to land in the Kendall Arnett Tournament title game.
The Timberwolves will face Del Campo at 8 p.m. tonight for the championship. Placer will take on old rival Nevada Union in the third place game at 6:30.
The Hillmen (10-4) played without senior forward Alec Knox, who is attending his brother’s wedding in southern California. They could not make up for the loss of offense despite nice efforts from Cody Riggs and Isaiah Pineiro, who combined for 35 points.
“We got a little frustrated on offense and had too many turnovers,” said Pineiro, who scored 17 and had eight rebounds. “We felt our legs a little bit after last night, but we fought through it.”
The game was tight and fast-paced early. After Matthews sparked the Timberwolves early, junior Tyler Milani heated up in the second quarter as the visitors built a five-point lead by halftime. In the third, Woodcreek got eight points from senior Noah Bishop and built a 50-39 lead.
Placer’s shots would not fall in the fourth as Woodcreek’s defense gave the Hillmen no breathing room.
“I thought at the start of the second quarter our defense got after it,” said Woodcreek coach Paul Hayes, who will face his alma mater in today’s final. “We made it tougher on them. They got (Pineiro) going in the third, but we had a couple nice opportunities to double down on him and get some steals.”
Milani scored a game-high 19 while Matthews finished with 16.
“I think people kept their heads in the game today,” said Matthews, who was a part of Woodcreek’s team that made it to the CIF NorCal semifinals last season. “I’m just proud of my teammates. Everybody played hard.”
Impressive freshman Noah Blackwell added 11 points for Woodcreek (6-8).
Meanwhile Pineiro and Riggs were the only Placer players to score more than three points. Peter Kean had an excellent floor game with five assists and two steals.
Pineiro said despite the loss, Placer remains upbeat heading into today’s third place game against the Miners.
“We’re always excited to come play on our court, in front of our fans,” Pineiro said.
Del Campo 57, Nevada Union 40
The Cougars were dominant in the other semifinal, racing out to a 21-6 lead after one quarter and coasting past the Miners.
Del Campo (12-2) got 20 points from Trey Novak and 14 from Semir Cahtarevic to set up a showdown with Woodcreek tonight at 8 p.m.
Cody Gardner led Nevada Union with 14 points.

Thursday’s Scores
Colfax 50, Bear River 48
Casa Roble def. San Juan
Del Campo 57, Nevada Union 40
Placer 62, Woodcreek 47
Today’s Games
7th place:?Bear River vs. San Juan, 3:30 p.m.
Consolation final: Colfax vs. Casa Roble, 5 p.m.
3rd place: Placer vs. Nevada Union, 6:30 p.m.
Championship: Del Campo vs. Woodcreek, 8 p.m.