Lady Hillmen pour it on, pull away

Placer snatches the momentum in the third quarter, cruises past Rocklin
By: Andrew DiLuccia, Journal Assistant Sports Editor
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All it takes is just one play to spark a team on to victory. Wednesday night, the Placer High girls basketball team got two. With the Lady Hillmen trailing 23-21 with roughly three minutes to play in the third quarter, Jill Taylor sunk a key 3-point basket to give Placer a one-point lead. Her shot was followed by a steal by freshman Kasey Riecks, who drove to the basket and was fouled. That steal sparked the freshman standout to score 17 of her 21 points in the second half and help lead the Lady Hillmen past Rocklin 50-37 in a physical Sierra Foothill League matchup at Earl Crabbe Gym. "My shots were falling. As you could say, I was putting the little ball in the big basket," Riecks said about her shooting in the second half. The freshman was just one of many highlights in the second half after the Lady Hillmen (17-3, 5-1 SFL) were able to adjust to the tough defense of the Thunder and the presence of 6-foot, 9-inch, Lindsay Hayward. The former Forest Lake player, along with her team, did a good job of keeping Placer out of the paint in the first half, and making the Lady Hillmen settle for outside shots. Placer only scored seven points in the first quarter. "In the first half, their defense just stifled us," Placer coach Tony Camillucci said. "We could not do anything offensively." But the Lady Hillmen also played tough defense, limiting Rocklin to just an 8-7 lead after one, and a 17-14 Thunder advantage at halftime. It was much of the same to start the third quarter, but then Taylor hit her 3-pointer - which rattled around the rim for a few seconds before it went in. Then, the Lady Hillmen took advantage of Rocklin's miscues on both sides of the ball. "On offense we just got passive," Rocklin coach Frank Shields said. "Offensively, they spread it out and they kept their composure. We just tried to do too much." With Rocklin overplaying most of the Lady Hillmen's offense in the second half, that allowed Placer to penetrate and find open players close to the basket. Riecks was the biggest beneficiary of those passes as most of her shots came from about two feet. Placer had Kelsey Burns to thank for a lot of those close shots as the 6-1 senior had the duty of guarding Hayward most of the night. The senior was able to bring the big girl out away from the basket and also defended well against her, knocking several passes into her away. "I just stayed behind her and tried to keep her out of the low block," a visibly exhausted Burns said about her strategy against Hayward. "I was putting my whole body against her to keep her out of there. "It was real physical. That's the most physical I played all year." Burns also had 10 rebounds. Behind Riecks' scoring and the defense, the Lady Hillmen took a 30-28 lead after three, and then in the fourth, a 10-0 run by Placer negated any real serious threat of a comeback by Rocklin. Tiare Dvorak scored seven points, Taylor scored eight and Laura Schoenhoff scored six to round out Placer's top scorers. Hayward led the Thunder with 10 points. Placer's JV team won 55-39 with Jessica Bonner scoring 17 points and Kayla Bush scoring 12. The Lady Hillmen play host to Roseville on Friday at 7:30 p.m.