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Folsom finishes non-league schedule with win over Rio Americano

By: Matt Long, Sports Editor
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Folsom High’s varsity boys’ basketball team wrapped up non-league play Saturday with a 68-60 win over Rio Americano.

The Bulldogs, 9-8 on the season, open league play at home Wednesday against powerhouse Sheldon in what will be the start of a tough 10-game stretch for the Bulldogs. Aside from Sheldon, the Delta River League also features strong teams in Pleasant Grove (13-3), Oak Ridge (10-7) and Jesuit (8-7) and Ponderosa is also competitive with a 7-9 record. In what’s commonplace when talking about the Delta River League, there are no easy games.

“The key is we’re going to have to win virtually every winnable game or we’re not going to make the playoffs,” Folsom coach Mike Wall said. “Every team we match up with evenly or we’re close with, we’ve got to win.”

Despite the up and down non-league season, Folsom captain Patrick Chen is confident as league play begins.

“As long as we play hard defensively, our offense comes to us,” Chen said. “I know our league is competitive, but if we are going to be successful we have to stop our opponents from scoring. If we can do that our offense will come to us.”

The non-league portion of Folsom’s schedule has been up and down for the Bulldogs, much like a 9-8 record indicates. The team started off with five wins in their first seven games, but since has won only four times in 10 games. With six sophomores and a freshman on the roster, it’s not surprising that the Bulldogs have struggled at times.

After losing their first two games of the Trojan Toss-Up Tournament, Folsom won the finale Saturday against Rio Americano, 68-60. The Bulldogs led nearly the entire game, except for two brief instances, one coming in the first quarter and another in the second. Folsom started off well, jumping out to a 19-7, but didn’t score in the final 2:33 of the quarter and watched its lead dwindle to five, 19-14.

Rio Americano took the lead at 27-24 following a three-pointer by Kyler Joaquin with 4:43 to play in the half, but Gavin Smith tied the game with a three of his own 16 seconds later, one of eight three-pointers for the Bulldogs. Jordan Ford followed with another three 18 seconds later and Folsom led the rest of the game.

After being outscored 13-5 in the opening minutes of the second quarter, Folsom finished strong with a 15-6 run to take a 39-33 lead into halftime.

Folsom came out of the break picking up where it left off, scoring the first nine points of the half to take its biggest lead of the game at 48-33. Edwin Olympio and Zach Wolking handled the scoring, as Olympio scored two baskets, while Wolking knocked down a three and also scored on a layup to put the Bulldogs up by 15.

Folsom led 54-42 with a quarter to play. Rio made a run and got as close as four points to the lead, 64-60, with 1:28 to play, but Josiah Deguara made a bucket inside and Ford followed with a steal and a pair of free throws to seal the win.

“We shot the ball better today and played with a little more intensity on defense,” Wall said. “We came out ready to go, but we still gave up way too much dribble penetration and second-chance points, which kept them in the game.”

Wolking scored 20 points to lead the team, knocking down four three-pointers. Gavin Smith added 15 and, like Wolking, played well defensively with a couple of steals. Ford finished with 11 points, while Deguara scored nine.