So far, so good: Pineiro, Kean lead Placer past San Juan in Kendall openerBy: Matthew Kimel, Journal sports editor
Fourteen games into the season, Isaiah Piniero seems to be hitting his stride.
Pineiro had a game-high 26 points and 12 rebounds, Peter Kean added 20 points and six boards and Placer beat San Juan 66-54 in the nightcap of the opening round of the 71st Kendall Arnett Tournament at Earl Crabbe Gym Thursday night.
“He’s always been a very good player. He’s getting better all of the time,” Placer coach Mark Lee said of Pineiro, who was busy playing football during the Hillmen’s playoff run until the middle of November. “He’s a smart basketball player. He’s starting to get his basketball legs under him.”
Pineiro acknowledged that his game is improving daily, but added his teammates are responsible for that.
“It’s a team effort,” he said, “team sport.”
The Hillmen square off against El Camino Friday night at 8 p.m., with the winner advancing to the tournament’s championship game.
On Thursday, Placer (11-3) jumped out to a 18-7 lead against San Juan (7-6) but led only 36-34 at the break in a half that featured several runs by both teams.
“Our shot selection wasn’t as good as we wanted it to be,” Lee said of the first two quarters. “We took some quick shots, especially when we had the lead. We helped in feeding their runs.”
In the second half, the Hillmen took over by attacking the rim and getting to the free throw line, Lee said.
It also helped that Placer outrebounded San Juan, 41-22.
Michael McNamara played well along the boards for Placer, grabbing 12 rebounds. He also had eight points and two steals.
Lee said his team would make some adjustments for Friday’s game but wouldn’t tip his hand as to what those were.
“We got a tough one tomorrow against El Camino,” the coach said. “They’re a quality team. We’ll have our hands full. They have a good, tough defense. They’re very patient, they take care of the ball, they’re a well coached game.”
A win would put Placer in prime position to claim it’s first Kendall Arnett title since 2004.
“The Kendall is always fun. It’s our own tournament,” Pineiro said. “We look forward to it every year. Hopefully we can win it this year.”
San Juan was led by Chase Tweedle (17 points) and George Pachuliva (12 points).
El Camino 68, Union Mine 62 — Da’Jon Twist had 14 points and De’Jon Twist added 11 for the victorious Eagles, who led 37-29 at halftime and play Placer in a winner’s bracket game Friday at 8 p.m. in the second round of the Kendall Arnett Tournament. Daniel Saich scored a game-high 20 points and Alec Vaugh chipped in with 14 for Union Mine, which takes on San Juan at 5 p.m. in hopes of advancing to the consolation championship game.
Placer JV 54, San Juan 12 — The Hillmen advanced to the second round of the JV Kendall Arnett Tournament with a huge victory Thursday night. Placer plays Bear River at 1:30 p.m. Friday with a bid to the championship game on the line.
Reach Matthew Kimel at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @matthewkimel