Oakmont holds off Grizzlies in league hoops opener

Vikings control the lane in win at Granite Bay
By: Kurt Johnson, The Press Tribune
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The outcome was in doubt until a three-point shot fell short at the final buzzer Tuesday night as the Sierra Foothill League boys basketball season tipped off in Granite Bay. Oakmont led the contest from the outset, and though the Grizzlies made run after run during the second half, they just could not get over the top. The Vikings controlled the paint with their two big men and survived a high number of turnovers on their way to a 50-47 victory. Center Tony Gill, at 6-foot-8, and 6-6 forward J.T. Adenrele dominated the middle in the opening quarter and through most of the game, combining for 10 of Oakmont’s 14 points in the stanza. Adenrele also delivered a pair of assists as he did a nice job passing out of the Granite Bay double-team. “Not only are they big, but they are also very skilled,” said Granite Bay coach Jason Sitterud. “They did a good job of controlling the paint. We really wanted to attack them and get them back on their heels, but they did a nice job holding their ground and not committing any fouls.” Avoiding fouls was a big key for Oakmont, as Rick Campbell went with a six-man rotation in this contest. Gill and Adenrele both played the entire 32 minutes. Ryan Motsenbocker scored five of his seven points in the first period as Granite Bay relied on its perimeter game to maintain contact with Oakmont all night long. The Grizzlies trailed 14-9 after the first eight minutes. “Defensively, we had trouble staying in front of Riffice and Duncan,” Campbell said. “They did a great job of penetrating in the second half.” Both teams struggled out of the gate and started slowly, particularly with their outside shooting. Oakmont’s rust from a long holiday layoff contributed to the Vikings shooting difficulties. The Vikings also had difficulty, at times, holding onto the ball. “I think it may have been a combination of things,” Campbell said. “The layoff, school being out of session, and more importantly, understanding the level of effort and intensity we need to bring every night in the SFL. That being said, it was a win on the road, and those always help.” “I don't think we played especially well, but you have to credit Granite Bay with that,” Campbell said. “They changed defenses and pressured us into some careless turnovers. They were able to speed us up and we through some ill-advised passes as a result.” Granite Bay used its ability to pressure the ball, both in the backcourt and in the half court to pick up eight big steals and force a number of other Oakmont turnovers. That was particularly big in the second half when the Grizzlies used their defense to keep the margin close. Fortunately for Oakmont, each time Granite Bay closed within two points, the Vikings were able to drain a critical three-point shot. Both Gill and guard Alex Ford hit big from long range. Ford stroked a big trey in the third and another in the fourth, while Gill found himself with a wide open look in each of those periods and found the bottom of the net with both opportunities. The game may ultimately have been decided at the free throw line, where Granite Bay hits just two our of six shots in the final quarter. Oakmont was just 4-of-7 in the final stanza, but hit just enough to secure the win. “We had our chances down the stretch, and unfortunately we could not capitalize on them,” Sitterud said. “We played with a sense of urgency down the stretch, but unfortunately we just ran out of time. They are a very good team, and well coached. They do what they do very well and maximize their strengths.” After Matt Daly hit the front end of a one-and-one to put Oakmont up four at 50-46 with 22 seconds to play, he missed the second shot. A foul sent Jacob Keys to the stripe for Granite Bay seven seconds later, where he hit one of two shots. When Daly missed the front end of a one-and-one at the 12-second mark, the stage was set for the Grizzlies to force overtime. After a Granite Bay timeout to set the final sequence, Oakmont extended its defense and refused to allow guards Jake Riffice and Motsenbocker a clean look at the game-tying three. Gill and Adenrele were out to challenge each shot, and Motsenbocker’s long-range shot over the outstretched hand of Gill at the buzzer bounced away to leave the Vikings on top at the end. “I thought we came out a little tight in the first half, but settled down in the second and played better,” Sitterud said. Granite Bay was led by the scoring efforts of Robert Duncan, who had 15 points and five rebounds. Jon Davis had a battle on his hands in the paint, and he had a solid game with eight points, six boards and four steals. Gill scored 18 points, grabbed 15 rebounds and blocked three shots for Oakmont. Ford scored 12 points and Adenrele dropped in 10 points, pulled nine boards and blocked four shots for the Vikings. Point guard Fred Mobley did not do much damage in the scoring department, but the senior did a nice job directing the Oakmont offense and dished out four assists while pulling down four rebounds. Oakmont (1-0 in the SFL, 11-3 overall) visits defending league champion Rocklin (0-1, 11-5) Thursday. The Grizzlies (0-1, 12-4) visit Roseville (0-1, 4-12).