PVL boys race looks to be wide-open affair

By: By Mike Ray / Gold Country News Service
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Since joining the Pioneer Valley League in 2011, the Foothill and Center boys basketball programs have pretty much dominated the rest of the PVL field.
In 2011, Center went a perfect 10-0 in winning the PVL title with Foothill (7-3) coming in second. A year ago in 2012, the two Sacramento foes switched roles with Foothill going 10-0 and Center coming in second place (7-3).
Over the last two seasons, other than in games played between Foothill and Center, only Bear River and Colfax have been able to record a PVL victory over the league’s dominant forces.   
Last year, Bear River earned a win over Center and Colfax beat Foothill in 2011.
But on the eve of the PVL’s 2013 race getting ready to tip-off, there’s a hint that a shift of power may be ready to take place.
“I think there’s some very good teams in our league this season and that includes Foothill and Center,” said Colfax coach Mike O’Connell, whose Falcons stepped off a 14-3 preseason record. “This year it looks like anyone can get anyone on any given night. It’s going to be a real battle.”
Bear River coach Duwaine Ganskie, who has his Bruins off to a strong 13-3 start, echoed O’Connell’s comments.
“The PVL this season will be a tough place to win every night out,” Ganskie said. “There’s a lot of parity this year with some very good teams out there.”
While Colfax, Bear River and Placer (13-4) garnered much of the early preseason attention, Lincoln (13-4) showed it can’t be taken lightly either after knocking off Del Oro (12-5) in double overtime last week. 
“It’s going to be a very tough race,” said Lincoln coach Robert Ash, whose teams enters PVL play with a 10-game winning streak. “There are no automatic wins this year.”
Here’s a capsule look at the PVL boys teams:
Placer (13-4) – The Hillmen, with four of their first five PVL games at home, are hoping to get off to a good start in their league opener when they host Center tonight at 7 p.m. Isaiah Pineiro, averaging 20 points a game over his last 10 contests, has emerged as Placer’s “go-to guy” on both ends of the floor. Coach Mark Lee is also expecting big things from wings Michael McNamara and Peter Kean. Point guard Brennen Entz is also back in the Hillmen lineup after suffering an early season hand injury. Jordan Tucker, however, was last seen sporting a cast and crutches at Earl Crabbe Gym. 
Bear River (13-3) – Until teams find a way to slow down Bear River’s Justin Beskeen and his 23 points per game average, the Bruins figure to be right in the thick of the league race. Supplying a good supporting cast around the Bear River standout are Travis Anderson, Michael Raigoza and Tyler Hajewski. Nick Bachus, a 6-foot-8 senior, gives the Bruins added size down low.
Colfax (14-3) – With only two seniors on its roster last season, the experience gained from 2011-12 is starting to pay dividends for this year’s Falcon squad. Will Buell, an all-PVL pick a year ago, is averaging 17 points a game but he has had plenty of help from the likes of guards Taylor Dorsey  Jordan Balser and Paul Ramseth, as well as 6-6 post Matt Larson. Colfax also has shown good depth with Dave Campbell, Ryan Glazner and Wade Lewis providing key minutes.
Lincoln (13-4) – The Zebras have survived the loss of returning leading scorer Ethan Everett, who moved to Southern California, by using a balanced offensive attack to go into PVL play on a high note. Marcus Salgado (13.6) and Adam Felt (11.5), a pair of juniors who started last season as sophomores, lead the way. Alexis Gonzalez (11.0) and John Reyes (8.1) have also had good games for the Zebras in the preseason.
Foothill (6-10) – While the Mustangs are short on height with only two players taller than 6-4, the Sacramento team still has plenty of speed and quickness. Coach Drew Hibbs’ squad figures to press and run the entire 32 minutes with all-PVL pick Anthony Williams (19.0) teaming with fellow guard DeShun Clay and forward Douglas James (14.0) showing the way.
Center (5-10) – After a slow start, the Cougars are starting to steady the ship. Veteran coach Ray Gagnon has height to burn with 6-9 Isaiah Jones, 6-7 Austin Hampton and 6-4 Xavier Howell. Another player to watch for Center is freshman point guard Isaiah Tennette.