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Searching for Positives

Thunder drop two of three games at annual Rocklin Holiday Tournament
By: Russ Edmondson, The Placer Herald
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The annual Rocklin Holiday Tournament didn't go as the hosts had planned. Rocklin High's boys basketball team went 1-2, concluding the tournament with a 56-40 loss to Franklin of Elk Grove Saturday. This defeat came on the heels of Friday's 73-61 loss to Laguna Creek. The Thunder opened the tourney with an 80-41 rout of Oakmont on Thursday. "I just think we over dribbled too much (against Franklin) and everybody took off-balanced shots," said Rocklin junior center Sean Harris, who was the Thunder's lone representative on the all-tournament team. "I can't think of anything positive (about the tournament). But I'm going to try and keep everyone pushing (in practice) and try to set the tone." Harris averaged 12.3 points-per-game in the tournament, but scored just three points against Franklin. He was Rocklin's leader on the boards and in blocked shots in the three games. Thunder senior guard Jeff Kirk, who didn't score against Franklin, thought his team did a good job on defense Saturday. They held Franklin guard CJ Morgan, who has torched Rocklin in the past, to 14 points. Morgan, one of 10 all-tournament selections, averaged 23 points in two games against Rocklin last season and had scored a total of 50 points over his previous two games. "We wanted to stop him and we thought that our other four guys would be better then their four," Kirk said. "I didn't think we played well offensively. Our penetration wasn't good and our shots weren't falling. I think we can just learn from this and get better." Rocklin coach Steve Taylor certainly hopes so. "I think we played two real good teams and anytime you do that your weaknesses will be exposed," he said. "And on offense we are not there yet as a team. An inconsistency in terms of shot selection has hurt us over the last two nights." Taylor also pointed to a light at the end of the tunnel as the Thunder have practiced just five times since four football players joined the team. Taylor is now working post players Dylan Lane, David Akinnyi and Shaun Jordan and point guard RJ Susbilla into the regular rotation. "The reality is we have to let the (new) guys struggle a little bit," Taylor said. "And this (tournament) is a good opportunity to learn a lot about our team." One thing Taylor learned is that junior forward Zach Storment is getting better. He and senior point guard Ryan Yust led the Thunder with eight points against Franklin. "Storment has really improved and he played a pretty solid tournament," Taylor said. Storment (12 points) joined teammates Harris (22 points) and junior Casey Cutts (11 points) in double figures against Laguna Creek while Harris (12 points) and junior Chris Raeside (10 points) led the way versus Oakmont. Laguna Creek went on to beat Bella Vista 56-50 in Saturday's championship game. Yust had 26 points, Cutts 18 and Storment 15 to lead the Thunder in an 85-74 victory over visiting Foothill earlier in the week. Rocklin (5-3) hosts Del Campo Thursday at 5 p.m. and will participate in the Clovis Tournament Dec. 26-29. Junior Varsity The Thunder won two of three at the Center Coca-Cola Tournament at Center High, losing a heartbreaker before winning the next two games handily. After falling 69-66 to a hot-shooting Kennedy squad, the Thunder hammered Woodcreek 63-30 and then Mesa Verde 66-50. Pat Stover led Rocklin with 16 points in Saturday's consolation game against Mesa Verde while Tyler Garrison had 13, Derek Faulkner 11, Brendan Lane 11 and Chris Garrison 10. Stover had15 points and Chris Garrison 10 to pace Rocklin against Woodcreek, while Faulkner had 16, Lane 15 and Stover 14 in the loss to Kennedy. Beau Bussani starred off Rocklin's bench throughout the tournament. Rocklin beat Foothill 75-71 in overtime earlier in the week as Lane scored 16 points. Faulkner scored 14 points and made a reverse lay-up to send the game into overtime. Teammates Chris Garrison and Shane Seppinni scored 13 points each. The Thunder (6-5) will host Del Campo at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday.