Hillmen ground Falcon boys

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It was quite a comeback effort put forth by the Colfax High boys basketball team in its Pioneer Valley League game against the visiting Placer Hillmen Tuesday night.
But unfortunately for the PVL leading Falcons, the Hillmen got up off the deck after being floored by Justin Witt’s buzzer-beating three-pointer at the end of regulation and mounted their own spirited extra session comeback to escape Colfax’s lair with an exciting 73-68 overtime win.
And, for the rest of the PVL, the Hillmen win couldn’t have been at a better time.
With the start of the second half of PVL play beginning tonight when the Falcons host bear River, Colfax’s (17-4, 5-1) once two-game lead in the boys race has been scaled back to one contest with both El Dorado (4-2) and the Hillmen (4-2) nipping at the locals’ heels.
Tuesday’s back and forth game eventually came down to the first 60 seconds of the overtime period and with a full court Placer press causing havoc and forcing three straight Falcon turnovers, the visitors outscored Colfax 8-0 in less than a minute to put the Falcons into a hole they couldn’t dig out of.
“Placer played hard and did a good job,” said Colfax coach Mike O’Connell. “We didn’t handle their press in overtime very well and that ended up hurting us.”
That the Falcons were even in the game to force overtime was somewhat short of a miracle. Being out-shot and out-hustled by the visitors, Colfax fell behind 9-0 to start the game and eventually 20-7 after the end of the first quarter.
When Placer’s Conrad Harder scored on a basket at the 6:34 mark of the second quarter to put the Hillmen up, 25-7, you couldn’t blame some of the Colfax fans who headed for the door. But they should have stuck around.
Sparked by hustle plays from Kyle Greer and key baskets from Witt, Joey Jergo and Ryan Salmonson, the Falcons went on a 20-6 tear of their own over the last five minutes of the second quarter to pull to within, 31-27, at halftime.
The game continued to see-saw back and forth in the third quarter and when Colfax guard Austin Oberg sliced around a pair of Hillmen defenders to put through a lay-up just before the third quarter buzzer sounded, Colfax had pulled all even at 41-41.
In the fourth quarter, Colfax grabbed its lone lead of the night at 45-44 when Jergo took a nice feed from Witt for a hoop at the 6:56 mark.
After being tied at 47-47, Placer ran off six straight points and stretched their lead to 55-48 with 2:20 to go.
But four points from Salmonson and a pair of free tosses by Greer led to a Witt’s straight-on desperation 30-foot bank shot that split the net with two seconds to play that knotted the score at the end of regulation, 57-up.
Placer then scored off the center jump to start the overtime and eight straight points from James Taber, three off of stolen Colfax passes, and a Michael Jensen trey, helped pushed the Hillmen out to a 70-57 advantage with less than two minutes gone in the extra session.
Colfax made one last gasp when they scored the game’s next eight points to trim the Hillmen margin to 70-65 but a pair of Josh Turney free tosses with 21 seconds to play warded off another comeback by the Falcons.
Salmonson scored 18 points for the Falcons despite missing 10 minutes in the first half due to foul trouble. Greer followed with 16 while Witt and Oberg sank 11 each. Jergo added 10.
Colfax 61 Lincoln 54
Last Friday’s important PVL match between the Falcons and host Lincoln drew a capacity crowd to the Zebras gymnasium.
In a battle that went back and forth, the Falcons hit on key free throws down the stretch and used a timely late block by Ryan Salmonson with the game still on the line to upend the Zebras.
Lincoln had shot out to a 19-15 lead after a quarter of play before the Falcons relied on excellent second quarter defense to hold the hosts to just five points and head into the locker room with a 29-24 advantage.
The Falcons then went tooth and nail with the Zebras the rest of the way and after Lincoln had cut the Colfax lead to two points with just over four minutes to play, Salmonson was able to prevent a Lincoln lay-in with a key block and the Falcons never looked back.
Big free throws by Kyle Greer (10 points, 11 rebounds) and Austin Oberg were pivotal down the stretch for the winners. Both Salmonson and Justin Witt popped for 17 points each. Greer followed with 10 while Joey Jergo had eight, Oberg five and Chase Mosier sank four.