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Del Oro finds offense, pounds Placer

After early defensive struggle, undefeated Eagles pull away
By: Todd Mordhorst Journal Sports Editor
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LOOMIS — Neither coach can explain it, but it seems whenever Placer High and Del Oro clash in girls basketball, the game devolves into a sluggish defensive struggle. So when Katie Pulliam caught fire in the second half Tuesday night at Del Oro, the Lady Hillmen were in trouble. The Golden Eagles’ senior scored 10 of her game-high 16 points in the second half as Del Oro cruised to a 49-24 victory over its former Sierra Foothill League rival. “After our halftime talk we realized what we were doing wrong,” Pulliam said. “We worked on our communication and started slowing it down on offense. We were going a little too crazy in the first half.” Offense was in short supply on both sides early on. Del Oro took the lead for good on Pulliam’s putback early in the second quarter. She followed with a jumper, but the Golden Eagles (5-0) couldn’t find much breathing room. Placer trailed just 19-13 at halftime as Kayla Reeves’ 3-pointer and a bucket from Becky Miller helped keep it close. The Lady Hillmen hung around until late in the third, when Pulliam scored two straight baskets. To end the period. Crystal Sewell scored four straight to start the fourth and then three straight hoops from Pulliam put the game on ice. Pulliam’s playing time was sparse last season behind star guards Emilie Johnson and Stevi Bair. She’s been a key to the Eagles’ strong start this season with her steady shooting and tough defense. “I was a junior last year that didn’t get much playing time, so I’m just so proud to be out there on the court, leading the younger girls and setting the example,” Pulliam said. “I think we’re making a lot of progress. We’ve done so well this year and we’re bonding.” Reeves finished with 11 points to pace Placer. No other player scored more than three points for the visitors, who have struggled offensively after losing senior Shelby Madigan to a wrist injury earlier this month. “I can’t say enough about the girls, they’ve been playing so hard,” Barry said. “We put a hurt on them defensively in the first half and we’ve been doing that to everybody. I think when the ball doesn’t go down, you work hard on defense, but after a while you just can’t stay in that game. You’ve got to get some shots to fall and you’ve got to get a little momentum going or it gets frustrating.” The Del Oro defense flustered the Placer offense to the tune of 29 turnovers. The Eagles committed 13 turnovers. The two teams could hook up again this week. Del Oro will host the Lady Eagle Invitational Thursday through Saturday, with the Lady Hillmen joining Bear River and Colfax as local participants.