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Hillmen have paid their dues

After learning on the run last season, Placer looks to make the leap with four starters back
By: Todd Mordhorst Journal Sports Editor
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Cody Riggs is determined to make his final basketball season at Placer High a winning one, which would be a first for the senior class. The Hillmen are on the right track, with Riggs contributing heavily to their 6-2 start. “Since our freshman year we’ve had some rough seasons,” said Riggs, who earned all-tournament honors at both the Harlan Carter Tournament and the Antelope Classic this month. “But it’s coming together at this point. “I’m really excited because it’s my last year playing with all my teammates here and we have a good amount of returners. That helps in close games because we’ve been through those situations before.” Riggs is one of four returning starters from a Placer team that finished 11-15 last season and missed the playoffs. Senior Alec Knox, a 6-3 senior, can be an offensive force in the post. Junior Isaiah Pineiro is a tremendous rebounder at 6-4. Junior Peter Kean is a tenacious defender and is improving rapidly on the offensive end. Senior Michael Wiebelhaus joins the returning bunch in the starting lineup. Wiebelhaus, a 6-1 wing player, saw significant playing time last season. “They’re veterans,” Placer coach Mark Lee said of his starting five. “They got a lot of good experience last y ear. They get a long really well. They share the ball. It’s a great group. Every practice, they work really hard. We play the games and then go back and fix things.” Placer’s bench is coming along, led by junior Michael McNamara. He’s a versatile 6-1 forward who defends well and has a nice jump shot. Guard Andrew Dahlin is a reliable shooter off the bench. The junior was the MVP of Placer’s junior varsity squad last season. Junior Brennan Entz provides depth at guard, bringing athleticism and toughness that served him well on the soccer pitch during the fall. Junior Cedric King, a transfer from Washington state, is learning the Placer system and could be a valuable contributor for the Hillmen. “Cedric’s a really good athlete, really solid on defense,’ Riggs said. “As soon as he can get all the plays down he’s going to be a good player for us.” Lee said Placer has relied on its defense and hustle early on this season. “Our team defense has been the most improved part of our game,” Lee said. “Our post game has been very efficient with Knox, Pineiro and McNamara. Our execution has been hit and miss, but it’s getting better.” The Hillmen own signature wins over Shasta and Bear River so far this season. Today they head to Sparks, Nev. to defender their title at the Rail City Classic. The Kendall Arnett Tournament is slated for Dec. 28-30 and includes Bear River, San Juan, Casa Roble, Woodcreek, Nevada Union, Del Campo and defending champion Colfax. Riggs said Placer made major strides last summer during club basketball. The Hillmen posted a memorable overtime win over Colfax, among several impressive performances. “That gave us confidence, “Riggs said, “and got us excited about this season.”