Pineiro, Placer tame the Tigers
Isaiah Pineiro came to play.
The Placer High senior was a ball-swatting, rebound-grabbing, point-scoring machine in his seventh-seeded Hillmen’s 62-59 first-round playoff victory over No. 10 Inderkum Wednesday night at Earl Crabbe Gym.
Pineiro went off for 20 points, 18 boards, six blocks, three steals and three assists in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Div. III opener.
“My teammates were giving me the ball and I was doing good things with it,” Pineiro said. “And they were finishing. It was a good game.”
With the victory, the Hillmen advance to Friday’s second round of the tournament to face No. 2 Sierra (24-4), which scored a 66-25 victory over No. 15 Ceres Wednesday.
Against Inderkum (18-10), the Hillmen (20-8) were a little slow coming out of the gate and trailed 17-7 late in the first quarter.
“I don’t think everyone was fully awake,” Pineiro said. “We just had to wake up.”
Placer came to life late in the second and rallied behind a rim-rattling dunk by Pineiro that sent the Gold Mine into a frenzy.
“Dunks always pump everyone up,” Pineiro said. “The crowd got into it. It’s a good energy boost."
The Hillmen, who trailed 31-25 at half, grabbed a 39-35 lead by the end of the third quarter.
With about three minutes to go, Pineiro had to leave the game with a bloodied face after he pump faked and got scratched across his forehead down to his nose.
That’s when Michael McNamara (15 points) took over and went on a 5-0 run, knocking down a trey and putting in a basket.
“That was huge,” coach Mark Lee said. “Mike’s three and then his nice steal, he did an excellent job finishing there. Put us up (seven), that was a big play by Mike. He did a good job.”
Pineiro came back about a minute later and played with bandages taped around his head.
Placer also got key contributions throughout the contest from Peter Kean, who tallied 16 points and five steals.
The Tigers, coming off a banner Tri-County Conference-winning season, were led by Terrence White (17 points).
The Hillmen are expecting a tough matchup Friday at 7 p.m. against Sierra, when they travel more than 90 miles to Manteca.
“They’re very good,” Lee said of Sierra. “They should be the No. 1 seed.”