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PVL girls hoops: Placer, Bear River look like class of the field

By: Mike Ray / Gold Country News Service
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A year ago Placer High girls basketball coach Tony Camillucci was ticked  when his Lady Hillmen squad won 12 games, finished a respectable fourth place in the Pioneer Valley League and didn’t qualify for the playoffs.
Being a Division III school for basketball, the Lady Hillmen finished just outside the top sixteen in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section’s final power ratings. 
So, with that in mind, the Placer High coach went out and did something about it.
Scheduling accordingly and with a young deep squad that likes to press and run, thanks to a successful pre-season showing, Camillucci has Placer already playoff eligible.
“We implemented the rule because there were some injustices last season,” said CIF assistant commissioner John Williams of the section’s new rule that will advance any team with 15 victories to the playoffs, regardless of league or power rating finish. “We felt fifteen wins is a playoff caliber team.”
Camillucci does too.
Placer already has five wins against North Section opponents, another against PVL foe Foothill, a nip-and-tuck tournament championship win over Div. I Franklin of Elk Grove and an attractive victory over Rio Americano – the lone team to defeat Bear River this season. So when PVL play tips off today, Camillucci’s Lady Hillmen are already 15-2.
One of Placer’s two losses this season came to Bear River, 58-55, in the finals of Placer’s Coach “G” Memorial Tournament.  
Here’s a look at the PVL girls hoop race: 
Placer (15-2) – In an amazing statistic, eleven of Placer’s 15 wins this season have come by a margin of 25 points or more. Thanks to a balanced scoring punch led by Elena Daniel, Maya Thomas, Baylee Vanderdoes, Lauren Collins and Kirsten Schauble, the Lady Hillmen have plenty of different sources to generate the offense that will make them tough in PVL this season. When PVL action tips off with Placer hosting Colfax today, the Lady Hillmen will be seeking their first PVL girls hoops title since the 2007 and 2008 teams won back-to-back league crowns.
Bear River (15-1) – Jeff Bickmore’s Lady Bruins only go ten deep this season but so far Bear River has shown that quality is better than quantity. Led by the three-pronged scoring of Kaitlyn Reina (14.7), Savannah Welz (10.7) and Cindy Solomon (7.6), the Lady Bruins have captured the championships of three tournaments in December. Also vital for Bear River are all-around standouts Jennifer Alberts and Sarah Hagar.
Colfax (9-7) – Dave Campbell’s Lady Falcons may not have the eye-popping preseason records of Placer or Bear River but Colfax did play a rigorous December schedule. Included among Colfax’s losses are a pair to highly-regarded Nevada Union and Monterey Trail and another to Nevada power Bishop Manogue of Reno, a team that won Del Oro’s Lady Eagle tournament and also its division at the West Coast Jamboree. The PVL’s defending champions are led by returning all-league selections Amber Tobiasz and Raegan Lillie. Lindsay Biles, sophomore Taylor Avila and Kaila Tremoureux are other players to watch.
Lincoln (11-6) – It used to be that teams would see Lincoln on their schedule and automatically put up two “W’s”. That’s not the case anymore. Thanks to former Colfax High coach Dan Hicks implementing a year-around program with the Zebras, Lincoln is starting to see the fruits of hard work. Lincoln looks to have plenty of firepower with 6-foot post Cassandra James, sophomore point guard Taylor Galli and shooters Karla McCommas and Chantel Sharp leading the way.
Foothill (6-7) – The Mustangs lost a pair of standout players in Lawrelle Dobbins ,who graduated, and scoring leader Marissa Sanders, who transferred to Rio Linda. Picking up Foothill’s scoring slack has been sophomore guard Nayani Gordon (12), along with Holly Woodbury (9.5) and Elisha Anderson (8.5).
Center (8-8) - Thus far this seaso Center has been led in scoring by sophomore guard Destinee King and forwards Khadijah Calhoun and Deija Smith. The Cougars picked up a nice recent win with a 60-58 verdict over Whitney in the El Dorado Tournament.