When Casey Cutts addresses his Rocklin High School boys basketball team about the rigors of the Sierra Foothill League or of the intense rivalry with nearby Del Oro, he speaks from experience.
Cutts was a senior playmaking guard for Rocklin in 2006-07, when the Thunder went 26-4 during a four-year championship run that featured a combined 113-16 record.
But after Rocklin coach Steve Taylor stepped down following the 2009-10 season to catch his breath, the Thunder slid to 9-17 in 2010-11 and 4-24 last season.
Cutts returned to Rocklin this season as coach after two seasons working with the basketball program at Del Oro, where his brother Justin is the athletic director.
Ranked No. 7 by The Bee, Rocklin is 13-5, including a 68-59 triumph over No. 8 Del Oro on Thursday. Senior guard Devin Moss scored 11 consecutive points down the stretch and finished with 30.
"He's been a leader on the floor, and I can look to him to calm us down or get us going," Cutts said of Moss.
That's what Taylor used to say of Cutts.
Even now, Cutts, 24, leans on Taylor for insight and suggestions.
Cutts is working on his credential in hopes of teaching English.
"I have a great support staff here," Cutts said. "It's almost overwhelming, the support. That's played a huge role in me being comfortable as a young coach. Growing up in this program, I always knew I'd get into coaching. I didn't think I'd be doing it at my old school this young, but it's been a perfect fit.
"And coach Taylor is a huge resource for me. He's been a big part of my life. From Day One, the kids here have been adamant that they wanted to be better, and they have bought into this. We've gone back to old traditions and incorporated new things, too."
Rocklin's other starters are 6-foot-7 center Hayden Cook, utilityman Drew Ardissone, point guard Jake Faulkner and wing Taylor Cherry.
Overtime drama El Camino beat host Rio Americano 74-73 in double overtime Friday in a wild Capital Athletic League game.
Rio Americano thought it had won in regulation when Zack Suarez drove the lane and passed to Jordan Cloud for a buzzer beater, prompting Raiders fans to flood the court.
But referees ruled that there was still a second to play and assessed a technical foul to Rio for the fans racing onto the floor. The successful technical free throw forced overtime at 56-56.
Aaron Sweeney had 18 points and Da'jon Twist 16 for El Camino, which faces No. 5 Antelope and No. 19 Cordova this week.
It's in the shoes Vista del Lago guard Drew McPherson is so loyal to his favorite college that he sports Oregon Ducks bright green shoes.
The 6-5 senior guard sports a nice game, too. He can score inside and out, run the floor and handle the ball, and he is generating recruiting interest.
Transfer talk Laguna Creek's Jericho Avery has been ruled eligible after transferring from Burbank. The 6-4 wing was the MVP of the Burbank junior varsity last season.
Laguna Creek also includes Burbank transfer Malik Pope, a 6-7 forward. The Cardinals are 9-10.