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Placer survives 2OT to advance at Kendall Arnett

San Juan pushes Hillmen in 97-88 thriller
By: Justin A. Lawson Journal Sports Writer
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Cody Riggs and the other three Placer High seniors wanted to play in their last Kendall Arnett Tournament in grand fashion. Their thought was in the form of a title but, for now, the Hillmen will have to settle for a double-overtime thriller they’ll be talking about for a long time. Placer fended off a relentless three-point attack from San Juan on Wednesday for a 97-88 win that came within two points of the school’s all-time scoring record. “We all worked so hard to get here and it’s like a last opportunity to be in the Kendall for a lot of us seniors,” Riggs said. Placer (10-3) will face Woodcreek, who beat Casa Roble 68-58, today at 8 p.m. Riggs scored a game-high 34 points and Placer needed every bit of it. The Spartans (7-6) closed a 63-55 gap in the fourth quarter to force the first overtime and overcame a five-point deficit to send it double overtime. Both comebacks were keyed by big time three-pointers from Kevin Daniels, who finished with 32 points. “We kept fighting, kept attacking the basket, did a nice job finishing but they wouldn’t go away,” Placer coach Mark Lee said. “They kept hitting shots, you gotta give them credit. We played pretty darn good defense. Late in the shot clock they’d find somebody and hit a three. Daniels hit two big threes.” Riggs and Isaiah Pineiro, who finished with 24 points, closed out the final overtime, combining for nine of the Hillmen’s 14 points. When San Juan got within 91-88 with 1 minute, 26 seconds remaining in the second overtime everyone began to wonder where the Spartans’ big shot would come from this time. But the Spartans went cold as Riggs forced a final turnover and the Hillmen iced the game from the free throw line. “We started living by the three and you get tired eventually and you die by the three,” San Juan coach Tom Henderson said. “You’ve got to get the ball to the rack and score. They did a good job of getting inside at the end and we were on a wish and a prayer every time.” Placer found itself down 10 points early in the first quarter before Lee called a timeout to right the ship. The strategy worked to perfection as Riggs and Michael McNamara combined for an 8-2 run as San Juan turned the ball over three consecutive times. Riggs continued with the hot hand in the second quarter as the 6-foot guard scored 12 of his team’s 17 points. San Juan, though, wouldn’t go away as it went into halftime down 32-31. Pineiro picked up for Riggs in the third quarter with 12 points after he had scored only two through the first two quarters. Placer clung to a lead throughout the fourth quarter until the waning minutes as Pineiro slashed through the defense but missed a shot in the paint with 21 seconds remaining that would have likely ended the game. Instead, it set the stage for Daniels to nail a three, only his second of the night, from the wing in front of the home side to send the game to the first overtime. Daniels’ second shot came from NBA range as he nailed the shot with three seconds left and a defender in his face. Daniels scored just one point in the final overtime, though, as Placer closed the game.