Grizzlies face No. 1 Sheldon tonight

No. 8 Granite Bay earns big win over No. 9 Ponderosa Wednesday to advance in section playoffs
By: Jorden P. Hales - For The Press Tribune
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It wasn’t pretty, but the No. 8 seeded Granite Bay boys basketball team found a way to win a tough first-round matchup against No. 9 Ponderosa Wednesday night, 66-59.

The Grizzlies struggled with their offense for much of the night with senior Darren Nelson in foul trouble, rarely extending their lead beyond three points. The 6-foot-8 center finished with just eight points, but the win puts the team in the second round of the postseason where they’ll face top-seeded Sheldon Friday night.

“We started pushing the ball more (in the second half) and waiting until we got our shots instead of just settling for open threes,” Nelson explained of his team’s late outburst, during which he scored twice in the post. “We never really got going in the beginning, so it took us a while. We never really go the big 20-point lead we were looking for, so I’m hoping we can come out hard against Sheldon, because we’ve had a lot of games like that down the stretch.”

Ponderosa set out to stifle Granite Bay by pressuring the guards, making the entry pass difficult and forcing the Grizzlies to settle for perimeter shots. Although the strategy proved successful through most of the first three quarters, the Bruins struggled to score down the stretch.

“We tried to three-quarter front (the post),” Ponderosa’s senior forward Brennan Wheeler explained. “We’ve been playing good defense all year, so we felt like we could really hinge on that and we hit a couple good shots in the first half. Our game plan on the offensive end was to attack (Nelson’s) chest because Granite Bay likes to spread out in their zone and kind of leave him to help, get to the middle and protect the basket. It was working pretty well for a while.”

Granite Bay was able to take a 10-point lead midway through the fourth quarter before Ponderosa made a run. The Bruins hit two 3s late in the fourth quarter, but the comeback attempt dissolved as the Grizzlies knocked down their late free throw attempts.

“More than anything they kept their poise, because Ponderosa was making a game of it with the comeback,” said Former Sacramento King Doug Christie, who was in attendance to watch his son suit up for Granite Bay.

The Grizzlies will now hit the road to take on 26-2 Sheldon tonight at 7 p.m. Nelson noted the Huskies athleticism will be difficult to counter in the open court, but said his team will be ready.