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Placer boys eliminated at Sierra

Coach says memories from season will last 'a lifetime'
By: Journal sports staff
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For three quarters, the Hillmen hung in there.

But in the fourth quarter at Sierra in the Div. III Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs, the Timberwolves pulled away from Placer.

Isaiah Pineiro had 29 points and 16 rebounds but it wasn’t enough for the seventh-seeded Hillmen, whose season came to an end after a 71-51 loss against No. 2 Sierra in Manteca Friday night.

Michael McNamara added 10 points and seven boards and Andrew Dahlin scored seven for Placer, which finished the season with a 20-9 record.

Despite ending their campaign with a 20-point defeat, coach Mark Lee was proud of the way his players played through adversity Friday night.

“We made it to the quarterfinals,” Lee said. “It was a great season. We had great leadership from our seniors all year long and we competed in every game. We’ve got a lot of special memories for the kids that will last them a lifetime. They’re a class act. They represented the team and the school in a positive manner each and every time they took the floor.”

On Friday, Placer held a 19-18 advantage over Sierra (25-4) after the first quarter. The Hillmen trailed 36-31 at halftime and were down by four with 7:30 to go.

That’s when things fell apart.

Placer had four straight misses and turnovers and Sierra scored on all eight possessions to put together a 16-0 run.

The Hillmen’s “offensive flow was a little hampered,” Lee said, throughout the contest because starting point guard Brennan Entz had to play at the wing position because of a broken thumb. To top it all off, Peter Kean got in foul trouble early and played only 12 minutes throughout the game.

Sierra got good outings out of both Guillermo Nunez (29 points) and Eric Melgar (18). Nunez drilled five 3-pointers, including two from beyond 25 feet.

“You have to hand it to Sierra,” Lee said. “They’re a very good team.”

Early on, Lee said Placer did a nice job of erupting Sierra’s offense. But the Wolverines were able to come through anyway.

“We played great defense for 25 seconds on the shot clock,” Lee said, “but then they hit threes.”

Looking forward to next year, Lee said, “We got some juniors that got some experience.”

For Lee, this year’s Hillmen squad was a lot of fun to be around.

“The seniors are great students and quality men,” he said. “They’re going to be successful in their future endeavors. I feel honored to be a small part of their life.”