Granite Bay buckets its first NorCal win

Grizzlies edge McClymonds; Woodcreek also advances, but Valley Christian falls
By: Robbie Enos/Roseville Press Tribune Correspondent
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Nate Brillington held the basketball in his hand with seven seconds remaining on the clock Tuesday night. He had Granite Bay High School’s home crowd cheering, his teammates working hard in the post and a second-round matchup in the Northern California Division I Regional playoffs waiting.

Brillington also had something else going for him: the secret play.

Kyle Howarth came off a screen and wide out into the open. He parked underneath the basket, where Brillington made a quick inbounds bounce pass from the baseline, bringing a high-flying and crazy game down to one a fundamental layup.

Howarth’s basket put the Grizzlies (27-4) up 56-55, and a last-second Hail Mary from Oakland-McClymonds was no good.

In Division II, Woodcreek (26-5) edged Mountain View-St. Francis 55-54 on Tuesday night and will play at Santa Rosa-Montgomery (28-2) at 7 p.m. Thursday. In Division V, Valley Christian Academy (25-4) lost at Redding-Liberty Christian 70-56.

Howarth’s layup sends Granite Bay into the second round against No. 2 De La Salle (24-5) at 7 p.m. Thursday in Concord.

“We have been working on that play for a while,” Granite Bay coach Jason Stitterud said. “That’s kind of our go-to play, and it worked.”

Howarth had already put together a nice performance, leading the Grizzlies with eight rebounds, two assists and two steals while scoring eight points.

“It’s just a back screen,” Howarth said. “It can either go strong side or weak side, and they just left me wide open. They just forgot me. I’m always trying to find the open look. That’s one of my roles.”

McClymonds had the momentum after what looked like the play of the game. Guard Aaron Carter lobbed a perfect alley-oop pass to sophomore Dalvin Guy for the slammer, putting the Warriors up by two with just under a minute to play.

McClymonds (17-15) made a stop on defense, and Lawrence Otis hit a free throw at the other end for a three-point lead. Otis missed the second free throw, and Howarth was fouled by Carter as he went up for the rebound. Howarth made both shots to close the deficit to one.

Granite Bay had the final possession with 12.6 seconds left. Jacob Keys drove in and lobbed up a floater that missed. The rebound went out of bounds, last touched by the Warriors to set up the winning play.

“Our strategy is just attack, attack, attack,” said the Grizzlies’ Robert Duncan, who scored a game-high 26 points. “Just keep attacking and good things will happen.”

McClymonds switched between a full-court press and zone defense. The Warriors attacked the lanes and flew all around the court with quick hands. They amassed 15 steals, and their ball control on offense limited the Grizzlies to three steals.

Granite Bay trailed by nine after the first quarter but found its rhythm. Duncan scored eight points in the second period and center Jon Davis five to close the deficit to 30-27 at halftime.

“This was kind of a new stage for us, and we were just nervous in the first quarter,” Stitterud said. “But we came out in the second, and things happened for us.”

Duncan received extra attention from the McClymonds defense in the third quarter, so the offense shifted to Davis in the post. The big man delivered seven of his 12 points, maneuvering around defenders with a deadly right hook shot.

While McClymonds got it done from the field in the final period, the Grizzlies delivered from the line, where they were 8 for 10, including a 5-of-6 performance from Duncan.

“Our strategy was to just get to the rim offensively and keep attacking the basket,” Sitterud said. “Defensively, the key for us was to just rebound. We did a good job of controlling the boards in the second half.”

Said Duncan, “We just knew we had to attack the basket a lot. We knew we had to get it down low and work to our big man Jon (Davis). It’s a playoff game, and we knew what we had to do.”

Howarth and the rest of the team understand the difficult road ahead.

“These are like the best teams in the state and the best teams in Northern California,” Howarth said. “We’re going to keep working hard and keep hustling. We’re not the biggest and we’re not the strongest, but we’ve got some hustle in us.”

Granite Bay 56, McClymonds 55
Granite Bay (56)

Duncan 7 9-11 26, Howarth 2 4-4 8, Keys 1 1-2 3, Brillington 1 2-2 4, Davis 4 4-7 12, Eyen 1 0-0 3. Totals 16 20-26 56.
McClymonds (55)
Otis 4 4-5 13, Guy 5 2-5 12, Harris 2 0-2 5, Carter 3 6-7 12, Bell 1 2-4 5, Strickland 3 0-0 6, Taise 1 0-0 2. Totals 19 14-23 55.

Granite Bay    14  13  15  14 – 56
McClymonds   23   7  12  13 – 55

Three-point goals – Granite Bay 4 (Duncan 3, Eyen 1), McClymonds 3 (Otis 1, Harris 1, Bell 1). Rebounds – Granite Bay 27 (Howarth 8, Brillington 7, Duncan 6, Davis 3, Arai 2, Keys 1), McClymonds 27 (Guy 8, Strickland 6, Otis 5, Bell 3, Robinson 2, Taise 1, Harris 1, Carter 1). Assists – Granite Bay 5 (Howarth 2, Duncan 1, Keys 1, Brillington 1), McClymonds 9 (Carter 4, Strickland 1, Robinson 1, Bell 1, Harris 1, Otis 1). Steals – Granite Bay 3 (Howarth 2, Duncan 1), McClymonds 14 (Carter 5, Otis 2, Guy 2, Bell 2, Harris 1, Robinson 1, Strickland 1).