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Couple of Walls in the way

Published: Wednesday, Mar. 5, 2014 - 11:31 pm
Last Modified: Thursday, Mar. 6, 2014 - 1:44 pm

The coach’s wife suffers the most.

Not so much because Stacey Wall’s husband is longtime Folsom High School boys basketball coach Mike Wall, but because their son Jared is a frenetic, play-making sophomore guard. She agonizes for him.

So imagine her anxiety Wednesday night in a Sac-Joaquin Section Division II semifinal when it came down to the final, frantic moments. Wall, the player, made the stop of the season when he blocked a shot in the lane as time ran out, allowing the top-seeded Bulldogs to hold off Grant 63-62.

Wall raced toward his team’s bench and did a slide, as if on mud, pumping his fists. His mother was the one in the stands with her hand clenched to her chest, trying to stop her heart from bursting. She wore a T-shirt that read “Basketball Widow.”

And Wall, the coach? Didn’t leave his seat. He was as composed as his young team that continues to play beyond its years with poise and flawless execution. Folsom (28-2) has won 18 consecutive games and goes for its first D-II title on Saturday, and the program’s third overall since 2008 under Wall, the past two in D-I.

“I did everything I could to win at the end, had to make a play, and my instincts kicked in,” said Wall, who had eight points. “To be a first-year varsity player on a special team like this, with my dad, I’ll always remember this.”

Wall, the coach, used to be a pacing sort, stressing over details. He’s now the one planted in his seat, reflective of his club’s confidence, and it’s assistant Matt Mills who paces. Wall marvels at his team and is tickled beyond words of the pride he has for his son.

And that slide?

“I could never do that,” the coach said. “I have a hard enough time on the treadmill. Jared, he just makes plays. They all do. I just felt like we were going to win. I don’t get rattled with this team. They don’t get rattled.”

Folsom will play Cosumnes Oaks, which Del Oro 55-52 behind L.J. Reed’s 21 points.

What had the Folsom coaches uneasy was the prospect of dealing with Cameron Oliver, Grant’s sensational 6-foot-8 senior forward known to hit shots inside and out and follow up with a dunk. Oliver had 13 points and nine rebounds, and Folsom could live with that. He fouled out with 3:54 left, his team down 54-52.

Grant gallantly hung in there with guards Donovan Brown (15 points), Jeremee Churchill (17) and Jordan Echols (12) doing most of the scoring.

For Folsom, Lukas Hendricks played superb defense on Oliver, Colin Russell drew two charges, Jordan Ford had 19 points and Alec Andrews had 11 in another team-wide display for Folsom. Gavin Smith had nine and Josiah Deguara and Russell combined for 12 points.

“Lukas Hendricks was absolutely a man on Oliver,” coach Wall said. “That’s the best defensive effort I’ve seen all season. He didn’t back down. When Oliver senses weakness, he feasts.”

Grant coach Deonard Wilson said his team’s focus was to negate Ford, Folsom’s smooth sophomore guard whose ball handling and deft shooting have been key all season.

“Ford is the best point guard in the state in his class, hands down,” said Wilson, whose team still advances to the D-II NorCal tournament. “Our goal was to take him out of the game, but he made plays.”

Encina 77, Colfax 72 (OT) – Encina’s Matthew Coleman hit a three-pointer as time expired to force overtime, and the top-seeded Bulldogs held on in the extra period in a D-IV semifinal at Tokay High School. Donald Jackson led Encina with 29 points and Coleman had 21 for the Bulldogs, who seek their first title since 1997.

David Campbell led Colfax with 21 points and Kevin Zachman had 18 points and 15 rebounds. The Falcons, who led by 16 points in the first half, also advance to the NorCal tournament next week.

Read more articles by Joe Davidson

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