Whitney, Del Oro advance in Wildcats' Winter Tournament

Wildcats thump Bobcats
By: Jim Linsdau, Sports Editor
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Perhaps it’s been a long time in coming, but the Whitney boys basketball team broke out of its slump in a big way by dispatching Paradise 68-37 in the opening round of the Wildcats’ Winter Tournament Thursday.

The game started slow with Whitney taking a 14-9 edge in the first quarter. But despite allowing the Bobcats only four points in the second period, Wildcats head coach Matthew Rickabaugh wasn’t that pleased with his team’s defense.

“I liked the way we moved the ball around and found the open man,” Rickabaugh said as to his club’s offense. “As for defense, we can do better.”

However, the ‘Cats did take over the backboards allowing Paradise very few second shots.

Whitney, on the other hand, scorched the nets shooting 75 percent from the floor in the second half. The club was 8-for-12 in 3-point shooting. The Wildcats took only two shots from the foul line and made one.

Unofficially, Nolan Eger had 18 points on the night followed by Matt “Lefty” Gruber’s 15. Eight players in all contributed to Whitney’s point totals.

The Bobcats’ Clayton Velasquez was high point for the visitors with nine.

Whitney advances to round two of the winner’s bracket to face Vallejo, 6 p.m. Friday.

Del Oro 50, Center 46

In an exciting match pitting finesse against physicality, the Golden Eagles came out a winner over the Cougars in the third game of the tournament.

Del Oro looked as if they might steadily pull away from Center taking a 21-13 lead in quarter one and holding onto a 29-20 lead at halftime. But with a front court averaging 6-feet 8-inches in height, the Cougars slowly worked their way back into the game.

After narrowing the lead to 38-33 at the end of three quarters, Center broke through to take a 46-44 lead at the 2:23 mark of the final stanza. But steady hands at the free-throw line eventually put Del Oro onto the winning side of the tournament bracket.

Although the Eagles’ center Keenan Finney would shoulder the scoring burden in the second half with 10 of his 16 total points coming down the stretch, the charity stripe was where the game was won.

Aaron Freeman tied the game with two free throws near the two-minute mark. Then Danny Becker hit a clutch foul shot for a slim one-point lead.

After two free throws by Center’s Isaiah Jones missed the mark, Collin Mitchell came into the game to hit two charity tosses and make it a 3-point game. Ryan Takayama then added one more for the Eagles’ final tally.

Jones was high-point for Center with 10.

Del Oro will play Laguna Creek at 4:30 p.m. Friday.

Vallejo 71, North Valleys 53

The Panthers of North Valleys, Reno, tried to keep up with the Apaches by taking their game to the perimeter but that was no match for the run-and-gun, attack-the-rim style Vallejo played.

Although North Valleys had a bit of a height advantage on the boys by the bay, the Apaches were quicker and made up for any height disadvantage with their leaping ability.

Laguna Creek 67, Natomas 56

The Nighthawks put up a good fight but just couldn’t match the tower power of the Cardinals.

The 6-8 Malik Pope poured in 17 of Laguna Creek’s points, which was high for the game.

The Cardinals took a 10-point lead into the locker room at intermission and maintained that margin throughout the contest. Jessie Woods III added 16 points to the mix and Cecil Williams II contributed 14.

Natomas was led by Jalen Manning who scored 14.

Whitney Winter Tournament

Whitney High School

Friday’s Games

1:30 pm – Natomas vs. Center

3 pm – North Valleys vs. Paradise

4:30 pm – Laguna Creek vs. Del Oro

6 pm – Vallejo vs. Whitney