Lady Hillmen push the pace

Clark one of few experienced players as sophomores must grow up quickly
By: Todd Mordhorst Journal Sports Editor
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Amy Clark can’t help but refer to Placer High’s sophomore basketball players as munchkins. She’s just hoping they don’t stay that way for long. The Hillgals are counting on their young players to grow up quickly this season as they look to put together their first winning season in three years. Clark, a three-year varsity player, and fellow senior Marilyn Johnson are the only Placer players with significant varsity experience prior to this season. Leadership is much-needed for the raw, but talented team. “I’ve always kind of taken a backseat role, but this year with all the munchkins, I’ve had to step up and help them,” Clark said. “We’re actually doing really good. We’re maturing a lot faster than I thought we would. The sophomores have stepped up and hit big shots and everyone’s played their role.” The Hillgals (2-3) fell to a tough Ponderosa team 52-38 on Tuesday, but coach Tony Camillucci was happy with his team’s fight. “We just had too many turnovers against a team like that,” Camillucci said. “We need to get a lot of shots off. But we’re so young. We need games like this. They made some mistakes, but they’ll learn a lot from them.” Sophomore Kirstin Schauble is coming off a tremendous volleyball season in which she earned all-Pioneer Valley League honors. She’s emerged as a go-to scorer for the basketball team with her touch from the outside. Point guard Kerry McCullough is a flash in the open court. Her speed and quickness make her a great playmaker on the offensive end. “She can beat anyone off the dribble and then she can dish it off,” Clark said of the sophomore. Sophomore Ariana Jensen is also in the starting lineup. She brings steady ball handling and good shooting range to the court. Clark does a little bit of everything for Placer, but her specialty is defense. She’s strong enough to match up against post players and quick enough to play outside. Johnson and junior Rebecca Feis give Placer good size in the paint. Feis is an excellent rebounder and defender while Johnson is a threat on the offensive end with her accurate shooting. Senior Sarah Paolini adds perimeter scoring off the bench and senior Haily Godman provides depth at the post. Placer has more than a month to prepare for the new-look Pioneer Valley League, which welcomed Foothill and Center after the departure of El Dorado, Whitney and Mesa Verde. “I feel like league is wide open and that we could definitely win that, especially if we keep maturing at the rate we are,” Clark said. Placer will play at the Harlan Carter Tournament in Redding and then host its own tournament Dec. 16-18 at Earl Crabbe Gym. Camillucci is confident his team will make progress and compete well in the PVL. He said the team has a cumulative grade point average of over 3.5 and it shows, on and off the court. “I’m just really impressed with them. They’re just really nice kids,” Camillucci said. “A lot of that is Amy. She just takes care of everybody and a lot of what we are extends from her leadership. The sophomores are growing up fast.”