From Auburn Journal
Free throws matter. So does having the whole team.
Jordan Ferreira poured in 31 points, and Kai Huntsberry, in just his second game back from illness, went 6 for 6 from the line in the fourth quarter as Placerâs boys basketball team overcame a spirited challenge from visiting Colfax to pull away for a 69-54 Pioneer Valley League victory on Thursday at Earle Crabbe Gym in Auburn.
âWe knew it was going to be a tough, hard-fought game,â Placer coach Mark Lee said. âYou have to give credit to Colfax. (Garren) OâKeefe was on fire.â
Indeed, the game opened with OâKeefe and Placerâs Jeremy Lillis matching each other shot for shot. OâKeefe had 11 points in the frame, and Lillis had seven of the Hillmenâs first 10 points as the teams battled to a 15-15 tie.
â(Garren OâKeefe) had a monster game tonight,â Colfax coach Terry OâKeefe said. âIt was good to see him set a nice tone for us.â
Placer struggled to score in the second quarter, with just one Ferreira field goal in the first five minutes. Maxx Wolff was strong inside for the Falcons, leading Colfax to a 23-17 lead, the Falconsâ largest of the game.
âHeâs had his ups and downs,â OâKeefe said. âHe was very good tonight. I hope it signals heâs turned a corner.â
Ferreira, with Lillis on the bench, put the Hillmen on his back the rest of the quarter.
Ferreira went on a personal 10-2 run, capped by a perfectly timed rebound-putback off a missed three just before the buzzer sounded to give the Hillmen a 27-25 halftime lead.
After the teams traded baskets, Mason Ahrens and Garren OâKeefe drilled back-to-back threes to put the Falcons back on top, 33-31, and prompt Lee to call a timeout.
Coming out of the break, Ferreira picked up OâKeefe.
âJordanâs a very good defender,â Lee said. âWe had some mistakes on defense, left (OâKeefe) open a couple of times.â
The move paid off, as the Falconsâ offense went cold and the Hillmen pounded the ball inside to Lillis, who scored six straight to put the Hillmen back on top, 39-33.
It almost backfired, though, as Ferreira picked up two quick fouls for three total midway through the third. The issue worsened when Lillis was called for his third with 1:16 left in the quarter.
âWe were in serious foul trouble,â Lee said.
When Lillis sat, momentum seemed to be favoring the visitors, trailing by six at that point. On the ensuing possession, however, Ferreira stole a pass, drove the length of the court and was fouled hard. Colfax was assessed a technical foul on the play.
Ferreira made one free throw. Placer ran the clock down, and Lucas Yamzon hit a turnaround jumper as time expired to lift the Hillmen to a 46-37 lead going into the last quarter, to that point the largest lead for either team in the game.
âWe need to maintain our composure,â Terry OâKeefe said. âTake away that steal and that technical, and it might have been a different game.â
The lead would soon be double digits, as Ferreira hit a layup to open the fourth. Garren OâKeefe and Wolff did their best to keep Colfax within striking distance, but the Falcons could not get many stops. Mostly, they sent the Hillmen to the free-throw line â and Placer kept making the free throws.
âOur guys were gassed,â Terry OâKeefe said. âWe were trying hard, but we had a couple of missed rotations, gave up a couple of offensive rebounds.â
It didnât even matter when Lillis fouled out late. Placer was up 65-50 at the time and the only doubt remaining was the final score.
âWe just tried to stay positive and keep stressing our defense,â Lee said.
Ferreira added nine rebounds and four assists. Lillis finished with 15 points, eight rebounds and three assists, and Huntsberry had 10 points and four assists. Brandon Ikeda had nine points.
Garren OâKeefe led Colfax with 25 points. Wolff added 18.
Terry OâKeefe said Colfax (13-9, 2-3) can take a lot out of the game.
âWeâre trying really hard just to be confident and to grow. Weâre still fairly young, and the kids are starting to really believe in what weâre doing,â he said. âOur cultureâs getting right.â
The win keeps Placer (19-3, 4-1) tied with Center atop the PVL.
âWeâve still got five games left,â Lee said. âWeâre going to take them one at a time.â
Placer will play at Bear River on Wednesday, while Colfax will play host to Center.