Eagles take flight

Del Oro boys soar into playoffs with big wins
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Saying that the Del Oro High boys basketball team headed into this week's Sac-Joaquin Section's Div. III playoffs is on a roll might be the understatement of the high school hoops season. Taking advantage of two huge season closing Sierra Foothill League victories last week, the Black and Gold suddenly thrust themselves into the Div. III playoff picture by using its strong finish to earn a No. 3 seed and perhaps get the attention of season-long Div. III leaders Sacramento High and El Camino. Whether Del Oro is ready to step up and be a player in this year's Div. III tournament remains to be seen as the Golden Eagles began their foray into postseason play last night with a home game against No. 14 seeded Vanden of the Solano County Athletic League. If the Golden Eagles were able to weather the Vikings' storm, Del Oro would earn another home test Friday night at 7 p.m. against the winner of last night's first round game between Natomas and Dixon. If the opponent is Natomas, the Golden Eagles will be looking to reverse a 77-71 loss that they suffered at the hands of the Nighthawks back in January at the Common Good Classic hosted by Del Oro. Two wins by the Golden Eagles this week would vault the locals into next Wednes-day's Div. III semi-finals that are set for Galt High. The Div. III section final is then slated for Arco Arena on Fri., Feb. 29, at 9 p.m. Now 19-8 overall on the season, the Golden Eagles used their two wins last week to up their SFL season-closing mark to 9-3 and draw even in a second place finish with Granite Bay. Both the Golden Eagles and Grizzlies finished behind the SFL title winning 11-1 mark posted by Rocklin but last Wednesday Del Oro extracted some measure of revenge for two earlier season losses to the Thunder. Playing before a jammed packed crowd in Rocklin's gym and a Sacramento regional television audience, the Golden Eagles picked a most opportune time to play perhaps their best game of the season. Receiving a solid all-around effort from a host of different players, the Golden Eagles stunned Rocklin with a 71-48 lashing, the Thunder's first SFL setback in three seasons. With Luke Slatter and Jake Lovisolo going for 18 and 17 points respectively, and Josiah Jungsten and Casey Arent chipping in with 12 and 10 more important points, the Golden Eagles built a 34-28 lead at halftime, extended it to 51-39 at the end of three periods and then put the icing on the win by out-pointing the hosts 20-9 in the final stanza. Also having a hand in the upset win for the Golden Eagles was senior guard Mike Makela who hustled his way to six points and helped harass talented Rocklin sophomore guard Jackson Cummings into just a five-point night. Ryan Otten followed with four points and teamed with Arent despite foul trouble to keep tabs on 6-9 Rocklin junior Brendan Lane who finished with a quiet 21 points. Brian Rowe and Aaron Hendricks rounded out the scoring with two points apiece. In Friday's Senior Night game against Granite Bay, the hosts shook off a slow start to claw their way back into the game and only trail the Grizzlies 30-25 at halftime. However, with its defense keying play in the third quarter, the Golden Eagles took control of the issue by outscoring the Grizzlies 18-6 in what proved to be a decisive third quarter on the way to a 72-59 decision. Lovisolo sparked the triumph by netting 23 points. He was followed by Arent with 14 and Otten with 10. Luke Stoddard and Rowe added six more points apiece for the Black and Gold while Makela and Slatter tallied five points each and Jungsten three.