Wildfires burn Denair

Prep Girls Basketball Playoffs
By: Todd Mordhorst Journal Sports Editor
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FORESTHILL — Sean Namanny knew if he kept trying combinations of players, he’d eventually kick-start the Foresthill High offense Tuesday night. The Wildfires got rolling with plenty of time to spare. They overcame a sluggish start to drill Denair 50-32 and advance to the second round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division V playoffs. Junior forward Sadie Stroup scored 18 points – two below her season average – and guards Bella Engbretson and Emily Perez were great off the bench as the Wildfires improved to 18-7 on the season. Foresthill trailed 4-3 three minutes into the game before using an 11-3 run to grab the lead. In the second quarter, Denair pulled to within three at 14-11 before the bench sparked a 10-0 run and Foresthill took control. The Wildfires led 29-19 at the half and 41-22 after three quarters. “We’re slow starters,” Namanny said. “I don’t know what it is. We’ve had plenty of quarters where we score 20 points, but it’s never the first quarter. We became more fundamentally sound on defense. Our defense turned it around and then we got more aggressive on offense.” Foresthill won without senior captain Rylee Hackley, who will also miss Thursday’s game. She is on vacation with her family as Foresthill is out of school this week. “We definitely want her to be able to play in one more game,” Stroup said. “That’s our goal. She’s the perfect teammate. She always thinks of others before herself, so we really want to do that for her.” The sixth-seeded Wildfires will have to get past No. 3 Ripon Christian to play with Hackley again. Namanny knows his team is more than capable of knocking off the Knights (20-4), who had a bye Tuesday. “I’m trying to get them to believe how good they are,” the first-year coach said. “They play with this weight on their shoulder, but when they just go out and play without thinking, they can beat anybody.” Foresthill’s depth was key against Denair. Perez dropped in 10 points in a reserve role. Engbretson had four points, four assists and three steals. Bailey McDonald scored seven points and dished out three assists. Stroup drained two 3-pointers and added seven rebounds and four steals. The junior star said she is confident Foresthill can make a run and make it to the section semifinals for the first time in the history the program. “We know we’re pretty equal with Ripon,” Stroup said. “We don’t know much about them, but we know it’s going to be a good game.”