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Del Oro uses big third quarter to beat Woodcreek

By: John Parker/Roseville Press Tribune Correspondent
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After 16 minutes of even play Tuesday night, coaches for the Woodcreek and Del Oro high school boys basketball teams had identical messages to their squads: Stick to the plan, and good things will happen.

Fortune favored the visiting Golden Eagles on this night, as Del Oro used an explosive third quarter to break open the game and cruise to a 56-42 Sierra Foothill League victory over the Timberwolves. Quick baskets in transition, coupled with hot shooting, proved the be the backbreaker, as the Golden Eagles hung 24 points on Woodcreek in the third quarter to the Timberwolves' eight.

“I just wanted them to stay with the process,” Del Oro coach Geoff Broyles said. “We were getting good shots in the first half; they just weren't falling, so I wanted us to continue to do what we do.”

The first half ended in a 20-20 deadlock, as neither team shot better than 30 percent from the floor. The Golden Eagles (12-7, 2-0 SFL) came out firing in the third, however, as they converted Woodcreek (6-13, 0-2) misses and turnovers into quick baskets.

“That was the difference,” Woodcreek coach Paul Hayes said. “They got out in lanes, and we had some breakdowns. … That's a discipline thing, remembering to do everything throughout the whole game.”

Speedy Austin Soldano was a primary beneficiary, finishing three breaks for six of his eight points. Fellow senior guard Blake Covey also was feeling it, canning both three-pointers he attempted in the quarter.

“Our focus and energy stepped up,” Golden Eagles senior forward Alan Kidwell said of his team's burst. “We were finishing in transition, and that fed our defense – they go hand in hand.”

Kidwell led all players with 10 points, scoring eight in the lethal third stanza. Kidwell had a much clearer lane to work with in the quarter, as Woodcreek senior forward Noah Bishop was forced to the bench with 6:20 to go after picking up his third and fourth fouls on consecutive possessions.

It didn't help that Timberwolves junior do-everything forward Tyler Milani was less than 100 percent, battling an illness, not starting and playing a fraction of his usual minutes. Milani scored seven points. Sophomore guard Nick Howe had a team-high nine. Senior center Blake Bass scored eight.

The win has Del Oro off to its best start in league play in four seasons and in a three-way tie for the league lead with Roseville and Granite Bay, both of which won Tuesday. The Golden Eagles haven't finished higher than third in the league in that span.

“The big thing for us is to take one game at a time,” Broyles said. “You can't look ahead in this league – if you do, you're gonna get beat.”

JV – Keenan Finney scored a game-high 20 points as Del Oro earned a 68-60 win over Woodcreek. The Timberwolves were led by James Leyva's 16 points.