Placer boys ready to take their best shot

Hillmen hoopsters hope to get rolling in time for PVL
By: Matthew Kimel, Journal sports editor
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They don’t have any set goals. 
But they figure to be scrappy, skillful and smart.
And when it comes time for the Pioneer Valley League season, the 2012-13 Placer High School boys basketball team might be able to compete for the league title. 
“It depends on who can stay healthy and get it going by January,” said Hillmen coach Mark Lee, whose team is coming off a 17-11, 4-6 PVL season, which was good for third place last year. “We’ll be in the mix. We have as good a shot as anybody.”
Placer figures to have a strong senior presence in its starting five, which may feature some combination of Andrew Dahlin (wing), Peter Kean (guard), Dylan DiRuscio (post), Michael McNamara (post) and Isaiah Pineiro (center).
“I think we’re pretty well rounded,” Entz said of his team that likes to run up and down the court and dive for loose balls. “We have some good shooters and also have some good big men that can post up. I think we’re all around a good team.” 
Said McNamara: “Our defense is very pressuring and in your face.”
In some ways, it’s unfortunate for the Hillmen hoopsters that their leader and perhaps best player in Pineiro had been focusing on football as Placer was making a playoff run on the gridiron. 
But in other ways, having to practice in training camp without the 6-foot-5, 190-pound post and perimeter presence of Pineiro has benefited the Hillmen.
“It gives other guys an opportunity,” Lee said.
Now that Placer’s football team has been eliminated from the playoffs, the basketball team should be expecting the 2011-12 all-PVL first-team center to show up to practice this week. 
“It’s always tough to put up the (football) pads,” Pineiro said, “but it’s on to a new season.”
Placer opens its slate at Earl Crabbe Gym on Monday, Nov. 26 at 8 p.m. with a Foundation Game against Roseville in the second leg of a doubleheader. The Lady Hillmen varsity basketball team will take on Roseville at 6 p.m.
Placer is also looking forward to the Harlan Carter Tournament in Redding and the annual Kendall Arnett Tournament at its own building. 
PVL play starts on Jan. 10 when Center comes to Auburn. 
“We have a lot of potential to go far,” said senior Kyle Hedden.
Placer also, apparently, has the potential to dunk.
According to DiRuscio, standing at 6-6, he and two others on the team can slam the ball through the hoop. 
That drew a round of laughter from his teammates, doubting the big man’s hops.
“I’ll go out there right now and challenge them,” DiRuscio said. 
He’ll have the whole season ahead of him to back his word.
Reach Matthew Kimel at Follow him on Twitter @matthewkimel