Kendall Arnett

Hillmen roar back to grab bronze

Placer stuns rival Del Oro with fourth-quarter rally as Ross scores game-winner
By: Todd Mordhorst Journal Sports Editor
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The Kendall Arnett title wasn’t on the line, but Placer High turned in a championship effort Wednesday night. In another Arnett classic, the Hillmen roared back from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter to stun Del Oro 57-56 in the third place game. Placer appeared headed to its 10th loss when Del Oro’s Nick Lewis drilled a 3-pointer early in the fourth quarter. But senior Matt Ross led a furious charge, scoring the winning lay in with 13 seconds left on a beautiful pass from senior Jeff Patton. “I saw the opening and I knew Matt was a good enough athlete that he would catch the ball,” said Patton, who passed between two defenders to Ross, who pump-faked before dumping the ball in. “All I had to do was get it to him.” Lewis had a clean look at a 3-pointer in the final seconds, but it was off the mark and Josh Klem grabbed the rebound to lock up the victory. Ross was a beast on the boards. The 6-1 guard finished with 15 rebounds to go with a game-high 19 points. “That’s pure effort right there,” Klem said of Ross’ rebounding. Klem wasn’t too shabby himself. The junior scored 14 points and grabbed five rebounds on his way to earning the award for Placer’s Most Valuable Player for the tournament. Del Oro junior Nico Ruiz was outstanding, finishing with 16 points as Placer’s defense focused on Eagles’ star Spencer Butterfield. Anthony Amara shadowed Butterfield for much of the game, holding him to 14 points. Butterfield grabbed 12 rebounds, but was limited by Placer’s constant pressure. “I’m really proud of Amara,” Patton said. “He really stepped it up and it’s always great to see that in a big game.” Patton finished with 12 points, four assists, three steals and three blocks on his way to earning a nod for the all-tournament team. Brian Rowe, who scored seven points for the Eagles (9-3), was an all-tourney pick along with Butterfield. The Eagles used a burst late in the second quarter to build a slim lead. Del Oro’s Luke Bradley dumped in a lay in at the third-quarter buzzer to give his team a 48-39 cushion heading into the fourth. “We could have laid down and gave up,” Klem said. “But we fought back and took it one possession at a time. I think this helped us realize we’re a pretty good team.”