Boys Hoops

Whitney outlasts Placer to take PVL lead

By: Todd Mordhorst Journal Sports Editor
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It was too much Eric Gee and too many fouls for the Placer High boys basketball team to handle Thursday night at Earl Crabbe Gym. Whitney’s junior guard drilled a long 3-pointer as the shot clock expired to give the Wildcats a 60-56 lead on their way to a 68-56 victory. The Hillmen were saddled with foul trouble throughout the fourth quarter and Whitney took advantage to remain unbeaten in the Pioneer Valley League at 4-0. “We just executed our stuff and down the stretch we made more plays than they did,” Gee said. “You’ve got to come in thinking you’re going to be on top. Right now we’re sticking to just one game at a time.” The Hillmen (7-11 overall, 1-2 PVL) looked poised to hand Whitney its first PVL defeat until the game’s final minute. Neither team led by more than five points through the first three quarters. The game was tied at 45 heading into the final period. That’s when fouls began to haunt the Hillmen. Placer senior Matt Ross picked up his fourth foul less than 30 seconds into the fourth. He fouled out in the final minute. Juniors Josh Klem and Anthony Amara were also forced to the bench with four fouls. Still, the Hillmen came back from 55-48 deficit to get within a point before Gee’s big shot. Placer had several chances to cut into the lead, but went cold from the field in the final minute. “We just kept getting defensive stops when we needed to and that’s what you need to do to win on the road,” Whitney coach Bryce Newell said. “We really bore down in the fourth quarter on defense and that led to some easy baskets and got us jump-started.” Placer’s Jeff Patton was a force in the paint as the 6-6 senior stood toe-to-toe with Whitney’s 6-7 big man Derek Knutty. Patton finished with 18 points, seven rebounds and three blocks. Knutty had 13 points, four rebounds and three steals. “Jeff really stepped up defensively,” Placer coach Mark Lee said. “He did a nice job keeping (Knutty) out of the paint.” Whitney senior Jordan Wilson tied Patton for game-high honors with 18 points. Wilson led an outstanding free-throw shooting display in the fourth quarter as the Wildcats went 12-for-14 from the line as a team. Gee finished with 13 points, as did junior Cody Borst. Junior Michael Jensen played well for the Hillmen, hitting three 3-pointers on his way to 13 points. Klem and Ross added 10 points apiece, but the Hillmen got just three points from their reserves in the loss. “We played great defense and then we would turn the ball over,” Lee said. “We just need to do a better job taking care of the ball down the stretch.”