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Grizzlies shoot down Honkers

Long-range shooting carries Granite Bay
By: Kurt Johnson, senior sports editor
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Three-point shooting and defense have been the trademark strengths of this year’s Granite Bay High School boys basketball team. On Friday night at the Common Good Classic at Del Oro High School, the Grizzlies used both once again in beating a strong Yuba City team going away, 59-45. Granite Bay came out of the gate a bit tentative against the Honkers, who boasted a significant height advantage at every position, but it did not take long for the Grizzles to turn up the aggressiveness and find their stroke from downtown. “It was good for us to see that we can compete with a team with that kind of size,” said Granite Bay coach Jason Sitterud. Junior guard Erick Harris was lethal from beyond the arc with three first-quarter 3-pointers and sophomore forward Jacob Keys brought the heat off the Granite Bay bench with a pair of treys and a two-point shot in an eight-point opening stanza. That duo scored all of the Grizzlies’ points as they took a 17-10 lead after one. On the strength of a strong quarter from senior forward Kevin Noall, the Honkers leveled things off in the second period, but Granite Bay once again relied on its perimeter game as three Grizzlies found the range from 3-point territory. Harris and his junior backcourt mates Jacob Riffice and Ryan Motsenbocker each drained a long-range dagger in the quarter. With six more points from Noall and a pair of timely threes by junior guard Donnie Triphan, the Honkers made a move in the third stanza, sending the game to the final eight minutes with Granite Bay leading just 46-43. The Grizzlies took control of the homestretch, beginning with a 9-0 run to open the fourth, using defense and aggressive rebounding combined with patience in their offensive sets to outscore Yuba City 13-2 in the final quarter. “This was a good game for us,” Sitterud said. “We get it going and just do what we do – shoot the ball and play hard on defense.” As the game progressed, Granite Bay’s tenacity on the glass wore down Yuba City (13-4) and the Grizzlies took control of the rebounding game. Starting center Doug Kircher grabbed eight of his nine boards before intermission, and forward Braden Young had a strong second half. Young ripped down eight rebounds in the game to go with his 11 points scored. Harris led the way on offense with 17 total points and Keys finished with 11 points. Granite Bay (3-0 in the SFL, 15-3 overall) faces an even steeper size challenge when it hits the hardwood next on Tuesday night. The Grizzlies host the Sierra Foothill League’s other unbeaten team, Rocklin (4-0, 17-2) in a 7:30 p.m. game. “We are looking forward to Rocklin,” Sitterud said. “We really have nothing to lose and it is a great challenge.”