High school boys basketball

League play tips tonight in SFL boys hoops

Oakmont hosts GB, Roseville at NU, Woodcreek visits Rocklin
By: Kurt Johnson, senior sports editor
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The heavily anticipated opening night in Sierra Foothill League boys basketball has arrived, and gyms from Roseville to Grass Valley will be alive with excitement tonight, as freshman and JV games at 4:30 and 6 p.m. set the stage for varsity action at 7:30 p.m. The opening-night headliner is clearly the game being played in Rocklin at the home of the defending Sac-Joaquin Section champion Thunder. Brendan Lane, Jackson Cummings and Pat Stover return to the starting lineup for Rocklin, along with most of last year’s key reserves. Joining that incredibly talented mix is a trio of newcomers, and the combination makes the Thunder scary-good this season. Tony Williams was arguably the best player at Lincoln a season ago, and likewise Cody Kale at Whitney, but that pair now puts their considerable talent to work for Steve Taylor. Add 6-foot-8 foreign-exchange student Mads Frandsen to that mix, and you have the appearance of an unbeatable squad. The first team to take a crack at the Thunder may be the group best positioned to make a run at Rocklin. Woodcreek started the season 13-0 before losing the final at the Surf ‘N Slam tournament in San Diego last week, and the Timberwolves have a deep and talented team. The loss of 6-7 senior forward Jordan Franks to an MCL injury during the San Diego event will definitely hurt Woodcreek in this game as it damages Woodcreek’s ability to match up with Rocklin in the paint. A heavy burden now shifts to 6-11 center Mike Kurtz to battle Lane inside and stay out of foul trouble, while the pressure defense Woodcreek loves to bring will have added significance. The Timberwolves are blessed with an abundance of athletic players who will be put to the test tonight. The varsity game is expected to tip at 7:30 p.m., but both of these schools have strong JV squads, so you may want to arrive early. Roseville will have its hands full tonight, as the Tigers make the trek to Grass Valley for a league opener against Nevada Union. The Tigers use a guard-oriented attack around dominating big man Kevin Crabb, but as Crabb goes, so goes Roseville boys basketball. The gym at Oakmont is the site for tonight’s third SFL premiere event. The Vikings host their neighbors from Granite Bay in a battle between the inside game of Oakmont’s Tony Gill and the outside shooting of the Grizzly guards. Erick Harris, Ryan Mottsenbocker and Jake Riffice will need to be on target from beyond the arc for Granite Bay to have ultimate success in 2009. This is another case where the JV game should be an outstanding battle, so arrive early and enjoy the show.