Zebras tied for second in league standings

By: Mike Ray, Gold Country News Service
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There haven’t been many teams that have shut down the potent Lincoln boys basketball team’s offense this season. With high-scoring Keenan Hale and Jacob Courage showing the way, putting points on the scoreboard hasn’t been much of a problem for coach Ben Palofox’s hoopsters.


But Tuesday night in Colfax in the Zebras’ biggest game of the season, Lincoln ran into a defensive-minded Falcons team that put the clamps down in securing a 52-35 win that cinched the hosts the outright Pioneer Valley League championship.


Using a stout defense as its catalyst in a game that wouldn’t win any style points for finesse, the Falcons rolled up their sleeves and received key contributions from several different sources on their way to pounding out the drubbing of the second-place Zebras.


For Colfax coach Mike O’Connell, his team’s championship in his first full season at the helm of the Colfax varsity program means that the veteran Falcon mentor has come full circle.


In 1975 and ’76, O’Connell quarterbacked a pair of Pioneer League championships has the Falcons starting point guard. Making the story even more remarkable was the fact that O’Connell, during a 12-year coaching stint at Lincoln, led the Zebras to their last PVL championship, in 2004.


“It feels great but the kids deserve a lot of the credit for this season,” said O’Connell. “It’s a real unselfish group that has kept a great attitude all season long.”


After the two teams spent the opening stanza getting a feel for each other and Lincoln holding a slim 11-10 lead, junior guard Chase Mosier scored on an out of bounds play to put Colfax up 12-11 to start the second period and the Falcons never trailed there after.


Kyle Greer came up with four steals and helped shut down Zebras scoring leader Keenan Hale who was held to just nine points in the contest, 11 below his average of 20 per game.


The Zebras had one last run in them to start the fourth quarter as a basket by Steve Bobyk and a free toss by Hale cut Colfax’s margin to 37-32 with 4:56 to play.


But from there Ryan Salmonson took the game over as he scored the contest’s next nine points including an old fashioned three-point play with 3:53 to go and another after taking a pretty fast break feed from Joey Jergo that made the score 46-32 with 3:26 left.


All in all, Colfax out-pointed the Zebras 15-3 over the game’s final four and a half minutes.


Lincoln was led by Hale’s nine points, eight by Bobyk and seven from Jake Courage. The Zebras, 20-5 overall and 8-3 in PVL games, play at Mesa Verde Thursday. Lincoln was No. 8 in Tuesday’s latest section power ratings release.



Feb. 16 Sac-Joaquin Section Division III power ratings:

1 Sacramento

2 Vista del Lago

3 St. Mary’s

4 Center

5 Rio Americano

6 Manteca

7 Del Oro

8 Lincoln

9 Placer

10 Foothill