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Eagles earn Arco appearance

Del Oro's playoff run ends in NorCal hoops regionals
By: Eric J. Gourley, Journal Sports Writer
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After a disappointing fall season on the football field, Spencer Butterfield carried the Del Oro High boys basketball team to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III title game for the first time since 1998. The Golden Eagles advanced to the CIF Northern California Regional championships despite graduating 10 seniors from a season ago. Sacramento High overpowered Del Oro 71-44 to win the section championship at Arco Arena and foul trouble doomed Del Oro in its NorCal opener at top seed Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep. The Eagles fell 86-63 despite a team-high 25 points from Butterfield. “They’re just a really good team,” head coach Geoff Broyles said of the Fightin’ Irish. “They did a great job pressuring us and making us play at a really fast pace. We usually like playing at a fast tempo but I thought we really got going too quick.” The Sierra Foothill League runners-up finished the season 22-9 overall. While senior point guard Brian Rowe graduated last weekend, juniors Butterfield (18.6 points per game), Nico Ruiz (7.3) and John Root (5.8) and sophomore sharp-shooter Aaron Hendricks (14) will return with experience this winter. A postseason archenemy spoiled a remarkable winter for Del Oro’s girls squad. Sacramento, the same school that kept the Eagles at bay in the boys section championship, crushed Del Oro 60-33 in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III semifinals. The Eagles battled the Dragons in the section semifinals for the third time in four years with the same result to close a 26-2 season, one of the best in school history that included an undefeated SFL run. Katie Pulliam averaged more than 10 points per game to lead Del Oro. Courtney Nolen (8.8) and Madeline Campbell (8.1) also had strong seasons. Senior Samantha Hodge filled the shoes of graduated star Emilie Johnson at point guard, averaging 6.3 points and 3.9 assists. “People thought we weren’t going to do well at all and we showed those people,” Hodge said after the section defeat. “We accomplished a lot more than people thought we would, so I’m proud of that.” Junior 140-pounder Jesse Stafford finished fourth at the CIF State Wrestling Championships to earn his first wrestling medal. Stafford lost to defending state champion Vlad Dombrovskyy of Natomas High, finishing the season with an impressive 57-7 record. “Fourth place for a junior is real good,” Del Oro wrestling coach Dave Sanchez said. “Fourth place for anyone at the state tournament is real good.” Seniors Connor Morgan (130 pounds) and Corey Johnson (135) fell short in their respective bids to repeat as state medallists. Bobby Gallagher made school history as the first Del Oro heavyweight to wrestle in the state tournament. Stafford upset last the 2008 state runner-up Kyle West to win the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II 140-pound title and lead the Eagles to a third place team finish. Morgan, Johnson, Gallagher and Kevin Burrage also won individual section championships after Del Oro went undefeated to clinch its third straight SFL crown.