OT surge lifts Placer past Colfax

Hillmen dominate extra period to earn PVL victory over rival
By: Eric J. Gourley, Journal Sports Writer
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COLFAX — James Taber and the Placer Hillmen weren’t about to let it happen again. Less than a week after coming out flat in overtime and letting one slip away to Lincoln, Taber scored eight points in a 58-second span and Placer held off rival Colfax 73-65 in a Pioneer Valley League thriller Tuesday night. The Hillmen scored the game’s first nine points as it took the Falcons almost four minutes to get on the board. Placer took its largest lead early in the second quarter when Conrad Harder rebounded a Michael Jensen miss and kissed it off the backboard to put the Hillmen on top 25-7. “They jumped on us early, but we dug in and battled back,” Colfax head coach Mike O’Connell said. Taber and Josh Klem, two of Placer’s biggest bodies on the floor, got into foul trouble and the Falcons went to work in the paint, closing the half on a 20-6 run to trail by four at the intermission. The spurt included a three-point play by Kyle Greer, who ripped an inbound pass out of a Placer guard’s hands, scored a layup and converted the free throw to send the Colfax student section into a frenzy with less than two minutes left in the first half. The Hillmen (11-9, 3-2 PVL) held their slim lead until Austin Oberg’s layup tied the score at 41 after three quarters. Placer took control again midway through the fourth quarter to go ahead 55-48, but Klem fouled out with 3:30 left and the Falcons started chipping away again. Two Hillmen shot clock violations later, Colfax (16-4, 4-1 PVL) trailed 57-54 with a few seconds left in regulation. Unable to penetrate, Justin Witt banked in an off-balance 3-pointer from the top of the key to send the game into overtime. Last week, Lincoln outscored Placer 9-2 in the extra period. “We had to learn from that loss,” said Placer head coach Mark Lee. “Right there, we said ‘we’re not going to do that again. We have to come out with more energy than we did in the first four quarters.’ We did. We learned from our mistake.” The Hillmen used a suffocating press and strong rebounding to score eight points in the first 31 seconds. Jensen’s 3-pointer put Placer ahead 70-57 with 2:37 left. Colfax cut the deficit to five, but Josh Turney made two free throws with 23.1 seconds left to create a three-possession game. “It was a very competitive game,” O’Connell said. “They did a great job in overtime and we didn’t execute very well on the press. You have to give Placer a lot of credit. They played very hard.” Taber scored eight of his 16 points in overtime. Darren Centi finished with 14 points for the Hillmen. Ryan Salmonson scored 18 to lead Colfax, while Greer added 16 points. Austin Oberg scored 11 and Joey Jergo chipped in with 10 in a balanced effort. In a JV nail-biter, Placer’s Ryan Mason nailed a free throw with 9.2 seconds left to carry the Hillmen past Colfax 46-45. Luke Beninga scored a game-high 20 to lead the Falcons. Devin Loomis added 14 points. Cody Riggs paced Placer with 16 points and Mason scored 10.