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Bulldogs pull out 52-49 win over Pleasant Grove

Folsom comes through in crunch time
By: Matt Long
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For the 23rd time this season, Folsom High’s varsity boys’ basketball team found a way to win. With the Delta River League championship on the line Wednesday at Folsom High, the Bulldogs defeated Pleasant Grove 52-49 to improve to 9-0 in league play and 23-1 overall. The Bulldogs wrap up the league schedule at home Friday against Florin. The Eagles, whose only league loss coming into the game came at the hands of the Bulldogs, controlled the game most of the way, leading most of the final three quarters. That’s when Folsom High turned up the intensity, however, and outscored Pleasant Grove 8-3 over the final three minutes to win the game. The Bulldogs did it with defense, as senior point guard Tony Johnson’s hands were everywhere, making steals and tipping balls that led to game-winning layups at the other end. After trailing most of the game, Folsom finally tied the score at 46 and it started with Johnson, who tipped the ball away from Xavier Thames and into the hands of Kori Babineaux, who returned the ball to Johnson for the breakaway layup. A minute later, Folsom pushed the ball up the court and Patrick Akins executed a 360-degree spin to his right and finished the layup to give his team a 48-46 lead, its first since early in the second quarter when they led 11-10. “I do that move a lot, but this time it really worked well because the defender overcommitted,” Akins said after the game. Neither team scored for the following 1:20, until Johnson wrapped his arm around Thames and stole the ball, which turned into a layup for Brandon Babineaux, courtesy of an unselfish assist from Tucker Horwath, to put Folsom up 50-46. Johnson was supposed to foul Thames, but did one better with the steal. “I thought that they were going to hold the ball for the last shot, so I told Tony to foul him because we had some fouls to give,” Wall said. “Tony just played great defense all night, fanning Xavier off to the side. He was driving, but he wasn’t getting to the basket. If he’s making that pull-up jumper, it’s going to be a long night, but he wasn’t making them at the end of the game. We’ll take our chances with that shot.” Akins said Johnson didn’t do anything that he hasn’t been doing all year. “Tony always seems to come up big in crunch time,” Akins said. “He’s been doing it all year.” Trailing by four, the Eagles still had a chance, but Johnson got his hand on another pass and Akins finished the layup to put Folsom up 52-46 with nine seconds to play. Thames hit a 3-pointer to cut into the lead, but the buzzer sounded shortly thereafter and the Bulldogs had won it. “We knew it was going to be a battle all the way to the end,” Akins said. “Our senior leadership was the difference.” Wall was his team’s aggression in the fourth quarter was the key to the win. “We’d been telling them the whole game to push the ball and they finally started doing it at the end,” Wall said. “That aggressiveness was key. Patrick was huge with some big threes and taking it to the basket. “My guys don’t fear failure or losing, even when they’re behind. They just keep playing.” Akins led the team with 18 points, while Kori Babineaux, who didn’t score a point in the first half, ended the game with a 13, nine coming in the third quarter on three 3-pointers. Johnson scored 12, while Brandon Babineaux finished with nine. Thames led Pleasant Grove with 24 points, while Glenn Akerland scored 19 and Bobby Barnes added six.