Bulldogs face Pleasant Grove Wednesday with league title on line

By: Matt Long
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The Bulldogs are two games away from finishing the Delta River League with a perfect 10-0 record. If Folsom defeats Pleasant Grove on Wednesday in the dog house, the Bulldogs will win the league championship regardless of what happens at home Friday in the regular-season finale against Florin. If Pleasant Grove wins, the two teams will enter the last game tied for the league’s top spot with 8-1 records. The Eagles finish the league season at home against Sheldon on Friday. When the two teams met on Jan. 23, Folsom came away with a 61-60 win. Wednesday’s game will likely be just as competitive with league title on the line. “It should be heck of a game,” Folsom coach Mike Wall said. “Two of the top-five teams in the Sacramento area battling it out for a league title -- any basketball fan should have a good time.” Wall said he expects the Eagles to bring their A-game and that his team seems to be peaking at the right time. Folsom will have to contain Pleasant Grove’s point guard Xavier Thames, who’s earned a scholarship to Washington State. “We need to do a better job of containing and collapsing when he penetrates,” Wall said. “That would be a real positive for us. He’s an amazing athlete; as good a point guard that I’ve coached against in a long time.” Folsom faces Florin on Friday, a team it defeated 74-54 on Jan. 28. The Bulldogs enter Wednesday’s game coming off a 67-43 win over Monterey Trail on Friday. Folsom scored 26 points in the first quarter on its way to a 12-point lead after eight minutes. A 16-3 scoring advantage in the second quarter finished off the Mustangs, as Folsom led 42-17 at halftime. Folsom had four players reach double figures with Kori Babineaux leading the way with 19. Tony Johnson scored 15 points, while Patrick Akins added 13 and Brandon Babineaux chipped in 12. The four players made 22-of-29 shot attempts. “We played our best first half of the league season,” Wall said. “The guys were patient versus their pressure, got a lot of good shots early and made them. We were really dialed in.” Folsom defeated Jesuit, 66-55, on Feb. 4. Wall and his team didn’t know the Marauders would be without their leading scorer, as James Moore was out of the lineup. Moore’s loss was an obvious blow to the Marauders, who had trouble scoring against the Bulldogs. Aside from MacKenzie McCullough, there weren’t many other options available. Holding a slim 29-24 lead at the break, the Bulldogs turned it up a notch in the third quarter, outscoring the Marauders, 23-13. Utilizing a potent transition game, the Bulldogs ran the Marauders out of the gym, scoring five fastbreak layups by five different players: Akins, Johnson, Brandon Babineaux, Kori Babineaux and Jordan Richards. Johnson also completed an and-one opportunity and Kori Babineaux connected on a 3-pointer. Akins also hit one from beyond the arc at the buzzer, which gave Folsom a 54-37 lead. That pretty much put the game out of reach for the undermanned Marauders, who narrowed the score a bit after the outcome was decided. Folsom featured great scoring balance, as Kori Babineaux led the way with 19 points. Johnson added 17 and Akins contributed 15. “Our scoring balance is one of our strengths,” Wall said. “We have five offensive threats on the court most of the time. It’s hard for a team to cheat one way or another because of that. “We were really unselfish in transition tonight and had a lot of pretty passes.”