Rocklin JV finish remarkable season with 26-1 record

Granite Bay last to fall
By: Jim Linsdau, Sports Editor
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The Rocklin junior varsity boys basketball team shook off a late-game letdown at home to defeat Granite Bay 61-53 and complete a near perfect season.  A preseason loss to Jesuit Nov. 30 was the only blemish on their 26-1 record and 10-0 in the Sierra Foothill League.

The Thunder came out of the blocks in the first half to put the Grizzlies in a 30-17 hole by the end of the second quarter. The visitors made up a little ground in the third but made their biggest push in the final eight minutes.

First-year coach Caesar Sandoval said the club’s lapse in intensity was probably a carryover from their previous game against Roseville. Winning that contest secured the league championship for the boys in blue.

“I think from a mental perspective, as a team, they realized they’d already accomplished winning league,” Sandoval said of the Roseville game. “ … [W]e get big on Granite Bay and I think they thought they could cruise for the rest of the game. So it was definitely concerning for me, as I’m sure it was for the other players, because that lead shrank quickly.”

Entering the fourth quarter, Rocklin had an 11-point lead. The Grizzlies steadily narrowed that to five and trailed by only four with less than 30 seconds to go in the game.

The Thunder’s Keyshon Williams and Evan Gustafson ramped up their scoring to seal the victory in that final period. The duo combined for 14 of the home team’s final 16 points and led Rocklin with 16 and 17 total points respectively.

Sandoval said his club’s success was a total team effort – not just against Granite Bay – but for their remarkable season.

“Everybody contributes and for us that’s what made the whole season,” Sandoval said. “Everybody played hard; everybody tried hard at practice; everybody gave their all during a game – from the No. 1 guy to the one that only gets a few seconds of game time.”

The Thunder JV averaged 67.2 points a game with an average winning margin of more than 19.

For the record, they came back Jan. 12 to defeat Jesuit 65-60 in a rematch.

Sandoval said he’s not planning to change much come next year depending on the players he gets for next season. He carried three freshmen on his team and finished the season without the services of Max O’Rouke, who was moved up to varsity.

“It’s been an honor to coach these guys,” Sandoval said. “It’s been a great year.”