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Folsom wraps up SFL basketball titles with sweep of Granite Bay

By: Matt Long, Sports Editor
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Folsom High’s varsity basketball teams played host to Granite Bay Friday night and the games were much more than just a regular season meeting in the Sierra Foothill League.

For the Bulldogs, both the varsity boys’ and girls’ teams entered their games undefeated in league play and are aiming for league championships and possible No. 1 seeds in the upcoming Sac-Joaquin Section Division I playoffs. For the Grizzlies, both of their teams were seeking wins to not only ensure a playoff spot, but to also get the highest seed possible.

As it turned out, there were no upsets on this night, as both Folsom teams wrapped up SFL titles. Folsom’s varsity boys rolled to a 63-49 victory over the undermanned Grizzlies, who are fighting for a chance to play in the postseason. Folsom improved to 8-0 in league play and even if it lost its remaining games to Del Oro and Oak Ridge, would still be champs because they’ve already beaten second-place Rocklin (6-2) twice. The Folsom girls had a tougher time than the boys, but pulled out a 57-50 win. Combined with Whitney’s win over Oak Ridge, the Bulldogs (8-0) have wrapped up their second straight league title, as did the boys.

In the boys’ game, Folsom did it with defense, holding Granite Bay to only 19 points in the first three quarters. The Grizzlies, missing their top-two scorers to an injury (Doug Christie) and a school trip (Josh Zahnd), just didn’t have the firepower to hang with the Bulldogs. Granite Bay only made five field goals in the first half, while Folsom made eight in the first quarter alone. Folsom led 21-8 after the first quarter, and added six points to that lead by halftime with a 30-11 cushion. A 19-5 scoring advantage in the third quarter put the game out of reach.

“I thought our ball pressure and our intensity in the full court was great,” Folsom coach Mike Wall said. “They were rattled and struggled to shoot. It was a good defensive performance. We were also patient on offense. Granite Bay changed defenses on us a lot, but we were patient and figured out what they were doing. We did a good job of not forcing anything, and not turning over the ball, and were patient and were still able to score inside.”

DeShawn Lynch, who missed the first game against the Grizzlies, led the Bulldogs with 14 points. Tiler Fears scored 13, while Jalen Scott added 10 points.

Even though the Grizzlies (1-7 in league, 8-18 overall) began the fourth quarter trailing by 30 points, they did not quit. Competing to the very end, Granite Bay managed 30 points in the fourth quarter to outscore Folsom by 16 points. Justin Mazzola scored all 11 of his points in the fourth quarter to lead the team. Scott Trythall finished with 10 points, while Omar Kanaan scored eight, and Matt Soran ended up with seven.

“We wanted to compete with them and we did that,” Granite Bay coach Jason Sitterud said. “We didn’t roll over. We had Rocklin and Folsom this week, so it was a tough week and a good test. We wanted to see how we had grown and progressed since the first time around in league and we wanted to get some momentum for next week for our games against Whitney and Del Oro. It’s a tough league, and you’re playing the best of the best so you know where you stand. We feel we’re right in the mix for the postseason so we hope to finish strong next week.”

Folsom also holds its games next week against Del Oro and Oak Ridge as extremely important even though they’ve already locked up the league title.

“We want the number-one seed and to get that we’ll probably have to go undefeated,” Wall said. “We don’t want to have to go on the road in the semifinals, and we also would rather play the best teams, Sheldon or Modesto Christian, in the finals rather than in the semis, so our guys will be focused and ready to play in these last two games.”

Folsom 57, Granite Bay 50

On the girls’ side, the third meeting between the teams proved to be just as competitive as the other two. Folsom won the first game by nine points, the second by eight, and on this night was seven points better than the Grizzlies.

The first half had no flow, as around 30 fouls were called in the 16 minutes of playing time. Folsom made 11-of-21 free throws, while Granite Bay hit on 8-of-15, as the Bulldogs led 30-27 at halftime. The Bulldogs came out in the third quarter wanting to take advantage of their size in the post, and that helped get the team going. The Bulldogs scored 16 of the first 19 points of the quarter to open up a commanding 46-30 lead with just over two minutes to play.

Katie Harris started the quarter with a basket, and Beth Pettingill put back an offensive rebound, as Folsom quickly had a seven-point lead. Hanna Beckman scored a layup in transition before another bucket by Harris and Folsom led by 10. Three-pointers by Beckman and Charity Gallegos and another bucket off an offense rebound by Gallegos pushed the lead to 16.

“We had an advantage inside and we took advantage of that,” Folsom coach Lynn Wolking said. “Katie played really well; Beth hit a big three, and Annie Malekos made a nice shot in the third quarter that helped us.”

Granite Bay coach Paul Shafto said, “They’re tough to guard in the paint. My team is small, so we just had to battle and do what we could inside.”

The Grizzlies (3-5 in league, 13-12 overall) played hard in the fourth, but could get no closer than seven-points to the lead. Peyton Mitcheom scored 10 of her 11 points in the fourth quarter to finish the game strong and spur the comeback. Brianna Lambey led the Grizzlies with 14 points. Paisley Specht scored eight points, and Sage Smith had seven, but neither player scored in the second half.

“We came in here with nothing to lose against the number-one team so I just wanted the girls to compete hard,” Shafto said. “We’re an up-and-coming team and played hard, but just had some unlucky moments here and there. Peyton had three fouls in the first half, but came out and had a strong fourth quarter.”

Wolking was pleased with the win.

“Granite Bay is a tough team and has played us tough three times now,” Wolking said.

Harris led the Bulldogs with 17 points. Beckman, who hit three, three-pointers, finished with 14 points. Pettingill scored 10, while Gallegos ended up with nine.

“It’s great to have won the league for the second straight year,” Wolking said. “This league is so tough and to win it with two games remaining is something special. We’ve got to get better in our half-court offense. The further you get in the postseason, the more critical it is to be able to execute and score in the half court. We’re not executing really well in the half-court right now.”