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Babineaux's putback lifts Folsom to section title

Down by 19, Bulldogs come back to win second straight section title
By: Matt Long
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Folsom High’s varsity boys’ basketball team has won 30 games this season, none more important, more thrilling and more improbable than the section championship game against Franklin High on Saturday at Arco Arena.

The Bulldogs trailed by 19 points nearly halfway through the second quarter, getting throttled every which way down 26-7. Folsom, however, made a dramatic comeback in the third quarter to trail by only four points, 44-40, then like it has all season, came through in the clutch in the final minutes, going ahead to stay on a Brandon Babineaux putback of a missed Patrick Akins’ layup with about seven seconds to play. Folsom won the game, 52-50.

If those who witnessed Folsom’s buzzer-beating win over Rodriguez last season thought that game was thrilling, they were likely more thrilled with this one.

“This was a lot more exciting,” Folsom guard Tony Johnson said, the guy who hit the game-winning shot a year ago as time expired. “To be down by 19 and come back, it’s hard to top that.”

Folsom took the lead for good with a basket by Tucker Horwath with 5:05 to play, which made the score 46-45. The Bulldogs extended that lead to 50-45, following a pair of putbacks of Kori Babineaux missed layups, first by Akins and the second by Johnson.

Franklin came back to tie the game at 50 with 18.8 seconds to play, but Folsom won it when Akins took the ball to the hoop and missed Folsom’s third layup in five minutes, but Brandon Babineaux was there for the follow.

“I just do what I always do and followed the shot,” Babineaux said. “It was good timing.”

Akins then stole the ensuing inbounds pass and was immediately fouled with 5.6 seconds to play. He missed his free throw, but Franklin’s last-second, long 3-point shot wasn’t close, sending the Folsom bench and partisan Folsom crowd into a frenzy.
The Bulldogs, 30-1 on the season, had just won a second straight Sac-Joaquin Section Division I championship.

“We just played our butts off to come back, got up and hung on,” Horwath said.
“We couldn’t have played worse in the first 12 minutes,” Folsom coach Mike Wall said. “It was the worst that we played all season. But in the second half we clamped down on them defensively and held them to 19 points.

“I thought the story of the game was that (Franklin’s) Ryan Sypkens scored 13 points in the first half and only made one shot in the second and that was a 3-pointer from way beyond the NBA 3-point line to end the third quarter.”

Time and again all season, the Bulldogs have pulled out close games in the fourth quarter with big buckets, clutch free throws and strong defense. They did it again on Saturday, this time coming from 19 down in the second quarter.

“They just do it (find a way to win),” Wall said. “It’s unbelievable.”

Johnson led the way with 19 points, while Akins scored 11 and Horwath chipped in eight. Johnson also led Folsom with six rebounds.

To see the Telegraph's gallery from the game, click here.