Playoffs offer fresh start

Bulldogs enter postseason with consecutive losses
By: Matt Long
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After a solid, if not spectacular season, Folsom High's varsity boys basketball team has picked the wrong time to struggle. The Bulldogs open the playoffs at home on Friday against Merrill West High, but the Bulldogs have to shake off the disappointment of losing three of their last four games and look the future if they want their season to continue. Last week Folsom defeated Florin on Feb. 11, but then lost close home games to Monterey Trail on Wednesday and Sheldon on Friday. It's hard to tell what affect those losses will have on the team, Folsom coach Mike Wall said. For whatever reason we were too flat and lackadaisical and we've got to turn that around. I have confidence the guys will respond with the effort we need. For Wall and the players' sake, they better respond or it will be one and done for the Bulldogs. Wall said the fact that his team is the No. 5 seed and West is at No. 12 doesn't mean much other than a home game for the Bulldogs. Both teams enter the game with a 20-7 record. We've got a tough draw, and we're playing a good team with a very good post player, Wall said of West and senior post Terrance Jones. He's a big, strong, tough player, who's good around the basket. West will be a really tough test right out of the gate. We'll see if we're championship material. We've got to beat them all eventually, so it's good to have a good team at home. If we're motivated from our struggles last week, maybe that will help us. Folsom lost to Sheldon on Friday, 59-52 and Monterey Trial on Wednesday, 60-58. While both were close game with the Bulldogs in them to the end, a better first quarter would have given Folsom two wins with the remainder of the games being the same. You take away the first four minutes of both games and we win, Wall said. More than anything else, I'm frustrated by our lack of enthusiasm out of the gate. These last two games have been two of our worst three games all season. Folsom fell behind Sheldon 12-5 in the first 3:13 on Friday, but by the end of the first quarter it was a two-point game with Sheldon up 16-14. The game remained close until Sheldon opened up a 39-30 lead with 2:21 to play in the third quarter. Folsom, however, came back with two 3-pointers by Tony Johnson and Paul Moeller, and by the end of the quarter trailed by five, 43-38. The Bulldogs made a strong comeback in the fourth quarter, taking a 52-51 lead on a basket by Brandon Babineaux with 2:45 to play, but didn't score the rest of the game. Against Monterey Trail, the Bulldogs trailed 17-10 after the first quarter and lost by two. Folsom didn't come out of halftime well either, being outscored 16-8 in the third quarter. We were way too impatient offensively against Monterey Trail, Wall said. Folsom opened the week with a 66-23 win over Florin on Dec. 11. Part of Folsom's struggles last week came from a lack of offensive options. While Johnson and Ben Palmer have been consistently the team's top scorers all season, the team is in need of a third player to step up offensively. I don't care who it is, but we need a third guy, Wall said. You can't win consistently without a third scorer. You look at our last three losses and it's basically because we didn't have a third guy. We've got to get everyone believing in themselves. We need to get our swagger back and behave like the league champions that we are. Folsom's home playoff game Friday tips off at 7 p.m. JV Bulldogs finish strong Unlike the varsity team, Folsom's JV squad finished the regular season on a winning streak. Folsom won its last five games to finish 15-12 overall. While we're accustomed to winning many more games, this record is a strong accomplishment considering we had only two sophomores and seven freshmen, Folsom coach Mike Witt said. We finished the season with five wins, and more importantly, we made solid improvements. Folsom defeated Florin on Feb. 11, 69-39. Tyler Trosin led the team with 18 points and also made five steals. Ben Olpin and Kyle Moeller both scored 12 points, while Kadeem Parker pulled down 11 rebounds. Folsom completed its season on Wednesday with a 54-48 win over Monterey Trail, the third time this year that the Bulldogs have beaten the Mustangs. Folsom made 15-of-20 free throws for the game, including nine-of-11 in the fourth quarter to seal the win. Trosin led the team with 15 points and three steals. Moeller added 13 points, while Jordan Richards scored 10.