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Whitney boys top Placer 62-58

Placer's Klem, Whitney's Borst and Knutty each score over 20 points
By: Russ Edmondson The Placer Herald
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Whitney High’s varsity boys basketball team held on to beat visiting Placer 62-58 on Wednesday night in Rocklin. The Wildcats (19-6 overall) are now 9-1 in the Pioneer Valley League while the Hillmen (9-15) are 3-6. Whitney swept the season series from Placer, also winning 68-56 in the first round of league play. Placer led 15-14 after the first quarter and 27-26 at the half but Whitney dominated the third quarter 24-16 to take a 50-43 lead heading in the fourth. Whitney junior Cody Borst, 6-foot-2, scored 15 of his 22 points in the third quarter. Placer fought back in the fourth quarter, getting to within two points twice. Placer’s Zach Aubuchon hit a 3-pointer with 6.4 seconds left to make the score 61-58 but Whitney’s Brenden McCue sunk 1-of-2 free throws two seconds later to seal the victory. Placer coach Mark Lee thought Borst’ third quarter explosion was the difference in the game. “Borst hit three jumpers in a row at one point, a seven-point run and that was the difference,” Lee said. Whitney coach Bryce Newell was even more impressed by the defense of Borst in the third quarter. “Cody got his hand on a bunch of passes,” Newell said. “He is our best defensive player and he had a big game for us.” Junior Josh Klem, 6-2, led Placer with 28 points, 17 in the first half. “Our guys did a really good job of getting (Klem) the ball,” Lee said. “I’m proud of our guys. They executed our game plan to a T – offensively and defensively. And I’m very proud of their effort. (Anthony) Amara did a good job (defensively) on (Jordan) Wilson and (Michael) Jensen did a good job on (Eric) Gee. Whitney senior big man Derek Knutty, 6-6, matched Borst with 22 points. Knutty had 13 points in the second half. “Derek just stepped up,” Newell said. “We challenged (the team) at halftime because we weren’t playing very well and Derek made big shots and dealt with foul trouble.” Whitney upped the tempo in the third quarter, nearly scoring as many points as they did in the entire first half. “We wanted to get out and move a little and quit standing around,” Newell said. Whitney was ranked fifth in Division III in the power ratings that were released by the Sac-Joaquin Section on Monday while Placer was 22nd. The top 16 teams qualify for the playoffs and the top eight will get a home game in the first round. Placer will host Lincoln on Friday while Whitney will host El Dorado on Friday, both games at 7:30 p.m. Newell is hoping the Wildcats don’t overlook El Dorado as Whitney’s following game, the season finale against Bear River, could be for the PVL title. “It’s been a continuing theme for us – one game at a time,” Newell said. “It’s hard to do that but we have to stay focused.”