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Junior varsity fever

By: Jim Linsdau Placer Herald Sports Editor
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At midseason, one can’t help but cast an eye on the basketball teams and players that will be filling the varsity ranks the next two or three years. Whitney High is the only school that doesn’t show a sophomore on either its boys or girls varsity clubs. Coach Matt Holm of the Wildcats’ JV boys said teaching fundamentals and building confidence were key features of preparing a junior varsity team for varsity. He said, because of the age of JV players, they tend to perform poorly under pressure. “It’s basic fundamentals in the heat of battle,” said Holm, following his club’s seesaw victory over El Camino. “It’s easy to do in practice, but during a game when you see two guys running at you your first reaction is to pick up the ball.” Holm said he definitely has some future varsity players, but that the field really begins to narrow at the top. Rocklin does carry sophomores. However, their success isn’t as easy to define as is that of a JV squad; partly because win/loss records reflect team strength, not individual talent. Perhaps needing the most help from future prospects are the Thunder boys and Wildcats’ girls. To put things into perspective, the Thunder will graduate four of the 16 players on its roster. The Wildcats will lose two. And both the JV squads of those respective teams are looking good. Rocklin’s JV roster carries 14 sophomores and just one freshman. And the frosh squad is 13-4. Whitney’s JV girls have beaten such league notables as El Camino and Rio Americano with eight girls on their roster. Of those, only three are sophomores. Varsity coach Andy Carter also has eight juniors who could all return next season. The two most promising varsities this season are Rocklin’s girls, and Whitney’s boys. The Thunder seems to suffer from a close-game jinx. In the always-tough Sierra Foothill League they’re 1-2 – and the two they’ve lost have been by a combined five points. They dispatched Roseville by 33. Rocklin head coach Rob Ferraro will see four seniors go this season; Joie Camalo and Kelsey Garvella. By the way, the Garvella whose last-second basket nearly beat Del Oro as reported last week wasn’t Kelsey, it was her sister Shannon, a junior. Whitney head coach Matthew Rickabaugh could face the biggest challenge of the future. Rickabaugh will lose seven seniors, including top performers like Evan Orrick, Sean Smith, Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick, Lawaun Clark and Anthony Davena. Still, one never knows what will develop. Student/athletes come and student/athletes go. Potential stars move in and some move away. And some try other things; after all, it’s high school. Holm said there are no championships in JV basketball, but there is the pride of winning with an eye on varsity. “Our number one goal in JV is to develop for varsity, absolutely” Holm said. “We continue with fundamentals, run some of the stuff the varsity runs, and continually try to get them ready for varsity.” After all, varsity is where championships are won.