Golden Eagles light up El Camino

By: Todd Mordhorst Journal Sports Editor
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LOOMIS — Playoff experience was in short supply on the Del Oro High roster heading into Wednesday’s Sac-Joaquin Section Division III first-round contest against El Camino. The Golden Eagles quickly found a cure for their early anxiety. “We love to push the ball a lot,” Del Oro senior Brian Rowe said. “You get nervous the first game of playoffs, but we started pushing the ball and got some easy shots.” Del Oro blitzed El Camino with an 18-0 run late in the first quarter on their way to a 92-66 victory to open the playoffs. Sophomore Aaron Hendricks was one of the few Eagles to see significant playing time during Del Oro’s run to the section semifinals last season. He finished with a game-high 29 points, including three 3-pointers in the first half as Del Oro built a 46-24 lead. “The experience helped a lot,” Hendricks said. “We had a lot of seniors last year and a lot of us didn’t get to play much, but we got to see what it’s like in the playoffs.” El Camino rallied in the second half behind junior Matt Helm, who finished with 20 points and senior Juwann Springfield, who scored 19. The visitors got within 13 points on three occasions, but could not contain Del Oro’s fast break. Junior Spencer Butterfield poured in 16 points and junior Nico Ruiz added 14 for Del Oro (21-7), which lost to El Camino in last year’s semifinals. “They knocked us out last year, so it felt good to beat them,” said Rowe, who led Del Oro with five assists. Junior Garrett Penney played well off the bench for the Golden Eagles, scoring eight points. Junior Jon Root was a menace on the defensive end and grabbed seven rebounds. Del Oro’s bench was heavily involved in the second half as 14 players broke into the scoring column. Rowe and fellow point guard Andrew Milton are the only seniors who see major minutes for the Golden Eagles. They may be short on experience, but they have their sights set on another deep playoff run. “We’re definitely going to surprise some people,” Rowe said. “They’ve been saying this was going to be a rebuilding year, but we’re a pretty good team.” Del Oro will host a second-round playoff game on Friday against No. 7 Sonora.