After last Friday’s loss at Oak Ridge, Folsom boys’ basketball coach Mike Wall challenged his Bulldogs to find out what kind of team they wanted to be moving forward.
After responding with two wins this week, it seems the Bulldogs want to be a contender; especially after closing out the visiting Granite Bay Grizzlies on Friday, 66-51.
Mason Forbes, who missed the last meeting with Granite Bay on Jan. 10 — a game that the Grizzlies won 56-53 — while serving a one-game suspension, played with a major chip on his shoulder and an elevated defensive intensity.
“Mason, defensively, was amazing tonight. I think he had a little extra motivation,” said Wall. “The key to the game was his defense on (Granite Bay center Darren) Nelson. (Nelson) is where they want to go and if you can stop them from going where they want to go; it makes a long way for them to be successful.”
Forbes finished with 21 points, nine boards, six blocks and three crowd-igniting dunks to help the Bulldogs gain sole possession of second place in the SFL with three games to play.
Martis Johnson added 19 points and eight rebounds, while Max Forbes chipped in 13 for the Bulldogs (18-6, 6-2 SFL).
“We came together as a team and said, ‘we have to figure this out,’ and now we’re second place in league. It feels really good, especially with the crowd hyping us up like that,” said Mason Forbes.
Folsom controlled the first half and most of the second before the Grizzlies began clawing back behind superb playmaking and hustle from point guard Ryan Haug (16 points and four rebounds).
Haug, Nelson and Ryan Smith all made big buckets to pull Granite Bay within two at the four-minute mark of the fourth quarter. Two possessions later saw Forbes throw down a breakaway slam that put Folsom up for good.
The Bulldogs are now very likely a mathematical lock to earn a playoff spot.
“This effort is going to be a real shot in the arm going forward. The kids look at this with excitement that not only is (a playoff berth) a possibility, but also the fact that we control our own destiny,” said Wall.
Each team came into Friday night with similar fortune during this crucial juncture of the season. Both teams suffered deflating losses only to respond with one-point victories in their next contests.
Granite Bay lost to unbeaten host Woodcreek 65-32 on Jan. 25 before avenging an early season loss to Oak Ridge 46-45 at home on Wednesday. Folsom lost at Oak Ridge 47-42 last Friday before answering with a 43-42 win against Del Oro on Wednesday.
Granite Bay (14-9, 5-3 SFL) hosts Nevada Union and Woodcreek next week while Folsom hosts Rocklin on Friday.