Woodcreek tested, but closes well to beat Oakmont

Timberwolves win Hauselt Invitational title
By: Kurt Johnson, The Press Tribune
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For the first time this season, an opponent forced the Woodcreek High boys basketball team to stretch Saturday night, and the Timberwolves proved themselves. This may sound funny, but we needed a game like that,” said Woodcreek coach Burnel Pinkerton. “We had been having several blowout wins and nothing closer than 20, so for us to play in a tight game like that was good. It was wonderful for our boys to get a taste of the SFL before we enter league play.” The championship game of the John Hauselt Invitational tournament at Casa Roble looked early on like another Woodcreek blowout, but then Oakmont got its legs and the teams delivered a great show. After closing to within one point with three minutes remaining, the Vikings were outscored 10-2 down the stretch as the Timberwolves claimed the title with a 71-62 win. “We fought hard and had our chances at the end,” said Oakmont coach Rick Campbell, “but some careless turnovers hurt us down the stretch. Woodcreek, on the other hand, played well down the stretch and that was the difference.” The Woodcreek pressure made Oakmont uncomfortable early, when a number of turnovers and rushed shots allowed the Timberwolves to gain a 23-11 lead after one quarter. Nik Milani was a menace on the bounce and on the glass as he scored nine points in that first eight minutes for Woodcreek. Aside from the outcome, I liked the way we battled,” Campbell said. “We got behind early as a result of Woodcreek's pressure. They forced some early turnovers and got points in bunches. Once we figured that out I thought we controlled the tempo of the game.” Oakmont forward J.T. Adenrele was very active in the paint for the Vikings, but he was not able to finish off his shots. Fortunately for Oakmont, Tony Gill and Fred Mobley had his back. Mobley scored 12 points in the second stanza and Gill added eight as the Vikings closed the deficit to five on a full-court heave from Eric Marten to Gill for a buzzer-beating lay-up. Woodcreek center Mike Kurtz got his game going in the third period, as he scored eight of his 10 points in the stretch. Oakmont countered with more Mobley and the 3-point shooting of Alex Ford, while Gill pounded the boards with six rebounds in the period, while Adenrele contested every shot and delivered a pair of huge rejections. “We will continue to improve and we believe we can play with anybody,” Campbell said. “It was a great experience for us early on. We know we need to execute for four quarters, especially in the SFL, to get a win. It will be an exciting year in the SFL. There is a lot of talent and some great coaches, making every night a battle.” Ryan Milat took over the scoring load for Woodcreek down the stretch as he scored eight in the fourth, but it was the Timberwolves’ work at the defensive end that put the contest away. Oakmont got the margin down to one, but could get no closer. Gill scored 25 and Mobley added 20 in this preview of what is expected to be an immensely competitive Sierra Foothill League. The Vikings did not have the legs down the stretch in this one, but proved that they are right there with the elite teams in the league. Oakmont has a great starting five,” Pinkerton said. “They had an excellent game plan and we don’t match-up well with them. Probably the biggest indicator was that we had a season low eight steals in the game. So our press wasn’t as effective as it normally is. Give Oakmont credit, the stretched us for the first time all season.” Milani led four Woodcreek players in double figures as the Woodcreek starters got their most extended minutes of the season. Milat scored 14 points, while Kurtz and Nik Stathopoulos each tallied with 10 points. “I think Milani is playing very well right now,” Pinkerton said. “He just does so many things for us and is playing much bigger than his size.” Jamie Geyer was impressive in some extended minutes in reserve for the Timberwolves, as was John Peska. Woodcreek is at Whitney Tuesday night, when Oakmont hosts Casa Roble. The Vikings will have another opportunity to get a look at a league rival or two when they travel to the Rocklin Holiday Tournament next weekend, where host Rocklin will still be without a couple of its athletes who are still involved with football season. Del Oro is also participating in that event. “The SFL is going to be a nightmare,” Pinkerton said. “My expectation for league is to take every game one game at a time. Anything can happen.”