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Sports Chatter: End Of Hoop Era Near?

Pucci's Falcons Bounce Back at Placer
By: Mike Ray Colfax Record Sports Editor
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In a gymnasium that has been unkind to his teams in recent years, Colfax High basketball coach Ron Pucci got to laugh last Wednesday night. Actually, Pucci probably just chuckled when he walked out of Placer’s High’s antiquated Earl Crabbe Gymnasium, most likely for the last time has a high school basketball coach. Undoubtedly, the best laugh of the evening to emerge from Wednesday’s Colfax-Placer boys game – if you were wearing green and white - was the needle wielding chant of “Call A Lawyer” - no explanation needed - delivered from the Colfax rooting section to its Placer counterpart has the Falcons were putting the finishing touches on their 64-52 win. But all kidding aside, it was what transpired on the court that was the big news of the night. Now, in the winter of what has been a scintillating 35-year career of coaching high school basketball, Pucci’s team Wednesday night checked in with an effort that we’ve become to expect from his players. Hard-nosed defense. Hell-bent-for-leather diving for loose balls. Taking the offensive charge. The motion offense. The hustle in and out of every time out. The team’s matching socks pulled up to just the right height. A week after a lackluster 63-44 loss at home to Lincoln, Pucci’s charges came up with a performance that at least for another day keeps the Falcons poised perhaps to make some noise in the second half of Pioneer Valley League play which starts Friday night at Bear River. Make no mistake about it, this isn’t one of Pucci’s most talented teams that he’s had in a 19-year varsity coaching career that spans nearly 350 varsity wins and over 500 total when you include his former freshman and junior varsity squads he’s coached along the way. But its his team and if you think the doors weren’t locked for the practice sessions that followed last week’s setback to the Zebras, well, there’s some oceanfront property I want to sell you in Arizona. “This was a big shot in the arm for us tonight,” said the Colfax coach. “I think the kids realized the importance of the game and performed accordingly.” After losing all five starters from last season's 29-4 team that won a third straight PVL crown and advanced all the way to the NorCal semi-finals, it would have been easy for Pucci to ride off into the sunset. He teaches only part-time now at Colfax High. And although he has not announced it publicly to stay out of the spotlight, and though Falcon hoops followers don’t want to admit it, the end of a coaching era at Colfax is just around the corner. “We’ll sit down after the season like we always do and see what’s going to happen next year,” said Pucci. “Hopefull, we have a lot of basketball left this season.” When I think of basketball coaches - that have made an impact over the years in the foothills area – names like John Rankin, Bill Barker, Tom Barry, Gary Donnell, Fred Kern, Jim Ryan, Kermit Young, Paul Gonzalez, come to mind. In about a month’s time you’ll be able to add another name to that list.