Roseville grinds out a victory at Del Oro
LOOMIS — Whether a team is coasting to a league title or fighting for one, every game from here till Tuesday picks up more playoff intensity.
Nine days from now, these will be playoff games.
So while Wednesday night’s Sierra Foothill League battle between Roseville and host Del Oro didn’t mean anything in one regard — both teams are guaranteed Sac-Joaquin Section playoff berths — it meant a lot.
This wasn’t a playoff game, but it could have been, and it just might be later this month. Roseville is No. 8 and Del Oro is No. 11 in the latest Division II section power ratings.
The Tigers showed they can trail for most of a game, get beaten on the boards, downshift from their preferred Autobahn hyper-speed to curvy gravel road and still win. Roseville didn’t take the lead for good until 1:30 remained in the game and survived a frantic final 20 seconds to post a 59-56 victory.
The Golden Eagles (16-9 overall, 4-4 SFL) played much of the game without junior guard Danny Becker, who “took a shot” to the body early, according to Geoff Broyles, and assured his coach he’d see a doctor Thursday.
The rest of the way, several players picked up the slack in different positions, and with senior Trevor Pistochini making four three-pointers and scoring a game-high 20 points and 6-foot-8 junior center Connor Drake scoring 15 points and grabbing a game-high eight rebounds, Del Oro led at every turn.
“They made one more shot than we made,” Broyles said. “This is a playoff atmosphere. You’re preparing yourself for those playoff games. Hopefully, they’re gaining a little confidence.”
But that wasn’t enough to beat Roseville, which reached 20 wins (20-5, 5-3) by hitting 6 of 11 shots from the field, 4 of 4 from the free-throw line and committing just one turnover in the fourth quarter. The Golden Eagles were 3 for 10 from the field, 2 for 4 from the line and committed seven of their 22 turnovers in the final period.
“Sometimes, you gotta win games and go, ‘How did we win this game?’ ” said coach Greg Granucci, whose Tigers avenged a 62-59 loss to Del Oro on Jan. 17.
Roseville shot well in the first half in that first meeting but couldn’t handle Del Oro’s physical play in the second half.
When the Eagles took away some looks in the rematch, the Tigers took the ball inside — and succeeded.
Senior Roman Tyukayev scored 14 points on 7-of-11 shooting, twisting and turning his 6-foot-6 frame to score on various moves around the hoop. Junior Matt Tawlks scored 13 points on 4-of-8 shooting and swished two free throws with 5.7 seconds remaining to give Roseville a 59-56 lead. Senior Cole Jacobs scored seven of his 11 points in the first quarter and was one of several Tigers who played physical defense, picked and poked at Del Oro’s handle and forced those 22 turnovers without getting into foul trouble. Junior Gabe Lira came off the bench to make 5 of 6 shots and score 10 points on tough attempts around the basket, hand out two assists and force more turnovers, and senior Daniel Rios scored nine points.
“In this game, we handled their physicality better,” Granucci said. “We started attacking the basket and were more aggressive around the rim.”
The SFL finishes the regular season with games Friday and Tuesday. Playoff brackets will be released next Wednesday.
A lesson taught by kids
It’s been another emotional week at Del Oro, saddened by the loss of its fourth student this school year. Morgan Helman, 17, died in a car crash Sunday, along with Vivian Connor, 13, of Newcastle.
Before the start of Wednesday night’s game, Helman’s mother and the parents of other students who have passed away spoke to the big crowd. They thanked the school, its student body and the community for its support.
The crowd also was asked to embrace arm in arm until 10 total points were scored in the game. With Roseville’s side of the bleachers joining in, the first 2½ minutes were played to near silence from the seats, the only sounds coming chattering players and coaches and shoes squeaking on the hardwood floor.
When Del Oro’s Trevor Pistochini made a basket with 5:36 left in the first quarter to give Del Oro a 7-4 lead, a cheer rose in a gradual crescendo, and the place got loud again.
Del Oro’s loud cheering section even threw out an impressive chant of “THANK YOU, ROSEVILLE.”
“It’s just been a really emotional week,” Broyles said. “When you hear the parents talk, that made it emotional for both teams.”
He was right. Roseville coach Greg Granucci agreed, saying, “It was emotional for us, too, hearing the parents talk.”
Granucci also applauded Del Oro’s thank-you cheer to the Roseville fans.