Whitney boys reach section semis

Win over St. Mary's sets up meeting with Sac High in Galt
By: Brett Ransford, Special to The Placer Herald
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A strong finish propelled the Whitney High boys basketball team past St. Mary’s (Stockton) 50-42 Friday night in Rocklin. The game was tied at halftime, but the Wildcats were stellar in the homestretch in earning a spot at the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III semifinals in Galt Wednesday night. “They didn’t seem to be as agile as [us],” said Whitney center Derek Knutty of the advantage Whitney had over St. Mary’s in the closing quarter. Knutty grabbed a rebound with 56.5 seconds left in the game and followed with two free throws that were the clinching moments of the game. His 15 points on the night were the most impressive as was his defensive work under the basket as a deterrent against St. Mary’s penetrating offense or post play. “Derek’s always huge for us,” added Cody Borst, who had a game-high 18 points. “It’s great to have such an athletic big man at 6’6” that I can feed the ball into on the low post and maybe look for a 2-on-1 to free up some space.” “I had a few open shots so I took them and [fortunately] I made them,” Borst said. “Those shots we made down the stretch really made the difference. They really overplayed us on defense. They played really tight on me when I got the ball and so created some room and was able to drive right past.” Jordan Wilson fought hard for his seven points. Off the bench, Josh Ladas added five points as well. Both teams shot the ball well most of the game. Whitney moved to a zone defense as it neared the fourth quarter and froze St. Mary’s junior star Joshua Harper. Unlike the strategy used in the win Wednesday night over Center, the Wildcats used more of their 13-man roster as they adjusted to Harper’s attacking game. Though difficult to hear over a daunting Whitney crowd, Coach Bryce Newell’s direction was critical as he managed his team through six lead changes in the game. “We wanted to definitely contain their top players and we gave a lot of attention to [Harper],” said Newell. “We really wanted to make them have to beat us and we definitely made adjustments and the boys were very good at that. The boys know it’s not over until the buzzer sounds, so kudos to my seniors for winning their last home game.” Whitney will now face the No. 1 seeded Sacramento High Dragons in a Section Division III semifinal game on Wednesday in Galt. Sac High is home to one of the top ranked point guards in the west, Josiah Turner, as well as highly regarded senior Chase Tapley. Sac High will be coming off Friday’s 86-43 win over Lincoln in Sacramento, where the Dragons were a perfect 11-0 all season. Whitney is the No. 5 seed in the D-III field and went 6-2 away from home this season.