Woodcreek opens with blowout win over Honkers

Seniors lead way for talented Timberwolves
By: Kurt Johnson, The Press Tribune
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It took a little while to get going, but once the Woodcreek High boys basketball team hit its stride, it rolled to a season-opening win over Yuba City. Led by a trio of seniors who scored in double figures, the Timberwolves began the season Tuesday with an 83-61 win on their home court over the Honker team it last saw in a playoff matchup last season. Woodcreek ended Yuba City’s impressive 2008-09 campaign on the Honkers’ floor with a five-point victory last February. Woodcreek’s 6-foot-11 senior center Mike Kurtz was not a factor for most of the night, as Yuba City played it physically in the paint. Zach Nelson, the Honker’s 6-8 senior post player was the main force inside and he neutralized Kurtz with his strength, frustrating the Woodcreek big man and also putting him in foul trouble after intermission. “Mike did struggle last night but I don't know if it was them or him or both,” said Woodcreek coach Burnel Pinkerton. Fortunately for Pinkerton, he has plenty of places to go for offense, and his team has returned its aggressive pressing defensive style. Nik Stathopoulos led the way in scoring with 19 points, and he also grabbed seven rebounds. The Timberwolves’ other 6-3 forward, Nik Milani scored 17 points and pulled nine boards. Both Stathopoulos and Milani were active at both ends, providing energy as well as athleticism as they attacked the rim. “We did get to the rim. This is Milat and Milani's third go-around so they know what's needed,” Pinkerton said. “I thought our shot selection was great. We have a very deep bench this year. Our juniors were a little tentative, but when they get going they will really help, as they are a very talented group. Op (Stathopoulos) had a nice night.” While just six feet tall, Woodcreek guard Ryan Milat was also very strong on his way to the hoop, as his perimeter shooting skill opened him up to drive. Milat was also a presence on the defensive end, as his hands in passing lanes changed the directions of more than one Yuba City pass. The first quarter was tightly contested as Stathopoulos and Milani’s scoring was matched by Jessa Chima off the Yuba City bench. The 6-3 senior hung six points in the opening stanza that ended with Woodcreek up 18-14. Six points each from Milat and Stathopoulos paced a 20-point second period for Woodcreek as the Timberwolves opened a 13-point advantage at intermission. The third quarter also belonged to the home team as it extended its margin to 18 after three. Donnie Triphan did all he could to keep Yuba City in the game during the third, as he scored nine of his 12 in that quarter, but it was not enough to answer the strength of Woodcreek’s big three, who 16 of their squad’s 22 third-period points. The final stanza was a mere formality, as Pinkerton emptied his bench midway through the quarter, allowing reserve guard Spencer March to drill three 3-pointers down the stretch for a nine-point night. Derek Anganes (seven points) and Devin Murphy (three assists) delivered some solid minutes throughout the contest off the Woodcreek bench, and point guard Ryan Sondhi was also solid. “I thought a lot of people played well in spurts, typical of a first game,” Pinkerton said. “We didn't do a scrimmage this year because we got matched up with Union Mine in the first round of the Casa Tournament and didn't want to scrimmage them before we played them. So this was the first time we have seen anybody outside of our own team.” Nelson scored 17 points to lead the Yuba City scoring, while Milat scored 13 points and dished out three assists for the Timberwolves. Woodcreek is back in action Friday and Saturday at the Turkey Toss-up at Whitney High School. The Timberwolves face El Camino at 5:30 p.m. Friday and then meet Inderkum at 5:30 p.m. Saturday.