Varied approaches to coaching basketball with a common goal

Organizers happy with funds raised
By: Kurt Johnson, senior sports editor
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As the Sierra Foothill League boys basketball community converged on Del Oro High School over the weekend to participate in a worthy cause, the difficult task of coaching in a midseason exhibition environment led to an interesting contrast of styles. In its second year, the Common Good Classic is attached to Swope’s Roseville-based nonprofit, An Organization for the Common Good, and the funds raised over two days of basketball go to provide for the needs of the less fortunate in this community. The inaugural tourney in 2008 raised more than $17,000 with seven games on one day, and the goal for this year was to top the $20,000 mark with nine games over two days. After Roseville gutted out a win over Bear River without its best player, as Kevin Crabb sat out the game with a ankle sprain, Granite Bay put the pedal to the metal on Friday night in an impressive win over highly regarded Yuba City. “We have a young team that has been playing very well,” Granite Bay coach Jason Sitterud said. “We did not want to slow the roll we are on and we were playing this game to win it.” Because of the timing of the games, these non-league contests do not count in the power ratings that are used to determine postseason placement, so while the cause is a good one, there are certainly risks involved of injured players. With that in mind, and seizing the chance to deliver valuable playing time to players who do not often get it during league play, Oakmont and Woodcreek took a different approach in their Saturday games. The Vikings lost 50-41 to Colfax, with leading scorer Tony Gill taking up a permanent position to the left of head coach Rick Campbell while other starters received only limited court time. “This is a tough game to coach,” Campbell said. “We’re young and this was a chance to get some extended playing time to some of these guys, so we took it.” Juniors Dylan Baldwin (10 points) and Eric Marten (8 points) shined in the game, as did starting guard Clayton Harrigan, who scored 10 points. Harrigan has only recently returned to the Viking lineup so Campbell used this as another opportunity to help him work on his game legs. Woodcreek entered its game with Natomas minus a few pieces, as the flu took down a pair of starters. Coach Burnel Pinkerton elected to have his other starters dress in street clothes and he turned the game over to his reserves, who responded by delivering a 32-point second quarter and an overtime thriller. The Timberwolves lost the game 86-84, but it was a shining moment for some lesser-known players. “We have 14 guys on our roster now and the guys on the bench have been troopers all year long,” Woodcreek coach Burnel Pinkerton said. “Saturday was their day to shine and I was very proud and pleased with their effort. I just wish they had won the game but still, it was a great experience for them, and it will only help us in the long run.” Senior guard G Toor was on fire from the perimeter, leading the Timberwolves with 20 points, while Tevin Tyus scored 12 points and led the squad with nine rebounds. Nik Stathopoulos scored a dozen points and junior guard Ryan Sondhi netted most of his 11 at the charity stripe. The final game of the night was a classic contrast in styles as Rocklin’s long, athletic group went up against the full-court speed of San Francisco’s Mission High School. After a deadlocked back-and-forth first half, the Thunder turned up the defense after the break as 6-foot-10 center Brendan Lane conquered Mission’s 5-foot-9 Demaree Hampton in an exciting battle. Both Pinkerton and Campbell hope that Swope and the event organizers will move the game to December or even earlier in order to make the games count, which would change the way the game could be coached. “We are going to look at perhaps changing to an earlier date so that more schools can participate and so that the game counts for the schools power rating,” Swope said. “Hopefully they will move the game to the weekend after Thanksgiving,” Pinkerton said. “It will be a win - win for everyone. It is tough to play a game like that at that time of the year.” As it was, early reports indicate that the event was a winner in the area that matters most, as it at least approached its fundraising goals. “We did about as well as we did last year, perhaps a little worse,” Swope said. “Overall we are very happy with the results. We are grateful to all the schools that chose to participate. In our first two years, we’ve always hoped for larger early and midday crowds, and we have some great ideas for next year as to how to improve our early results.”