Roseville tops Woodcreek in rugged SFL season finale
On paper, the game meant nothing. Neither Woodcreek High School nor Roseville had any chance of going to the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs. All they were playing for was fourth place in the Sierra Foothill League.
But a piece of paper contains only words and numbers. The passion of a city rivalry contains something much greater.
Roseville and Woodcreek fans packed Moeller Gym at Roseville for the season finale, and the host Tigers avenged an earlier loss to the Timberwolves with a 77-73 victory Friday night.
“It was a really big win for us because we lost to them last time,” Roseville center Andrew Schmidt said. “We wanted to play well because it was our last game. And for the seniors it was our last game here in Roseville.”
The game had a playoff atmosphere with both student sections engaging in shouting matches in an attempt to outmatch the opponent. The play on the court lived up to the hype, as Roseville led by 24 at the end of the third quarter. Woodcreek poured its hearts and guts into the final quarter, outscoring the Tigers 30-10 before falling out of contention in the final minutes.
The tension heated up when Woodcreek freshman Noah Blackwell made a reverse layup with five and half minutes left to bring the game to within 10 points. Nick Howe followed with a three-point play to narrow the deficit to seven.
The teams traded buckets before Schmidt took matters into his hands. As he did all game long, the aggressive 6-foot-6 center fought through Woodcreek’s zone defense and forced two trips to the free throw line, going a perfect 4 for 4 to hold Woodcreek in check. Schmidt scored a game-high 25 points, including 13 for 17 from the line.
“The key for us was working well as a team,” Schmidt said. “We were all motivated to win.”
Added Roseville head coach Greg Granucci, “We knew they were going to come out and zone us. We tried to use him (Schmidt) in the high post a little bit, and then we’d get shots around the zone, but eventually we’d get back to him around the basket. And that was big, because when he gets the ball around the high post, he was making good decisions all night long.”
Blackwell nailed a three-pointer and then Tyler Milani, who led Woodcreek with 22 points, brought the game to within four with a jumper. With less than three minutes left, Roseville’s Brandon Butler delivered the final blow, an aggressive drive to the hoop that resulted in a six-point lead. Milani hit one last desperation three-point attempt, but that would be the final straw.
Roseville cut through the Woodcreek zone all night. Three other Tigers scored in double figures: Cole Jacobs (15), Marcus Garcia (14) and Matsu Mori (10).
“We got a lot of offense from our defense,” Granucci said. “We played our own pace. Last time, they did a great job of slowing us down, but tonight we got back to pushing the ball forward and getting our offense from our defense. That was huge.”
Woodcreek also had four players in double digits: Milani, Howe (17), Michael Matthews (10) and Blake Bass (10). The Timberwolves nailed 11 three-pointers.
“The effort in the way the team plays was different during the fourth quarter,” Woodcreek head coach Paul Hayes said. “We’ve been harping on that all year. If we can learn to play with that amount of effort next season, all the time, it’s amazing what you can accomplish.”
Both teams will have optimism heading into next season. Jacobs and Garcia will return for the Tigers. Woodcreek also has a wealth of young talent, including Blackwell, Howe (a sophomore) and Milani, who will enter his senior season.
“I am looking forward to developing them, really developing that level of play where there is a high amount of effort," Hayes said. "Continue to play at that high level more often. Working in those kids on the team this year that didn’t get that much PT, and then bringing up those sophomores.”
Roseville 69, Woodcreek 61 – The Tigers led by four at halftime and kept a steady pace to hold off the Timberwolves.
Roseville 77, Woodcreek 73
Milani 8 2-4 22, Matthews 3 4-4 10, Howe 7 0-0 17, Blackwell 3 1-1 8, Bishop 0 0-0 0, Bass 4 0-1 10, Barton 1 0-0 3, Suetos 1 1-2 3, Summers 0 0-0 0, Totals 27 8-12 73.
Jacobs 5 4-6 15, Garcia 5 3-4 14, Butler 2 2-3 6, Swayne 1 0-0 2, Schmidt 6 13-17 25, Mori 3 2-2 10, Cunha 1 3-4 5. Totals 23 27-36 77.
Woodcreek 9 14 20 30 -- 73
Roseville 29 15 23 10 -- 77
Three-point goals – Woodcreek 11 (Milani 4, Howe 3, Bass 2, Barton, Blackwell), Roseville 4 (Mori 2, Jacobs, Garcia). Rebounds – Woodcreek 34 (Bass 7, Bishop 6, Matthews 6, Barton 3, Milani 3, Summers 2, Howe 2, Blackwell 2, Suetos, Lara, Hunter), Roseville 34 (Schmidt 9, Swayne 6, Butler 5, Jacobs 5, Rios 3, Garcia 3, Cunha 2, Mori). Assists – Woodcreek 16 (Blackwell 6, Milani 2, Lara 2, Matthews 2, Bass, Suetos, Bishop, Howe), Roseville 7 (Schmidt 2, Mori 2, Swayne 2, Garcia). Steals – Woodcreek 13 (Milani 3, Matthews 3, Howe 2, Blackwell 2, Bishop 2, Barton), Roseville 9 (Swayne 2, Rios 2, Garcia 2, Jacobs, Butler, Mori).