Hillmen survive Nighthawk’s upset bid


Story by Daniel Corkery, Sports Editor

The CIF Sac-Joaquin Section division 3 playoff bracket kicked off round one in the Boy’s bracket this past Wednesday. 3 seeded Placer opened up against the 14 seed Natomas Nighthawks at home and came out victorious.

Do or Die. As mid February rolls around each year, a new opportunity arises for each team. What happened in the regular season doesn’t matter, and every single game becomes a must win. 3 seeded Placer came into the postseason winners of 5 straight, having a 23-5 record, giving them a favorable placement in the Division 3 bracket, and matched up against Natomas High at the Earl Crabbe Gym in round 1.

Natomas came into the matchup a 14 seed, winning the Greater Sacramento League and an 18-11 regular season record. That 14 seed didn’t phase anyone, and come game time, Natomas was ready.

Natomas came out the gates firing, hitting 6 straight from beyond the arc, scoring 30 points in the first quarter. 

Placer was able to lock in defensively and have an efficient second quarter, taking a 47-42 lead into the Half. 

Placer took a 70-58 lead into the fourth quarter, but Natomas did not go out quietly, and cut the lead to 4. The Hillmen were able to hold off Natomas and captured a 86-77 win in the opening round. Ben Manley led all scorers with 37 points.

“It was a team plan, we found ways to make shots down the stretch for ourselves and ultimately it led us to a win,” said Manley. “We dug deep and found ways to hit shots and make stops.”

In his final dance as the head coach of the Hillmen, Coach Mark Lee found a way to get his squad ready. “ We needed to have more energy, we came out a little flat, so we had to come back and earn the victory.” 

Placer now focuses itself on Kimball High School, who was victorious in its opener over Lathrop High. The showdown is set. Earl Crabbe Gym, this Friday at 7 PM.