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DEL ORO EDGES JESUIT, REACHES SECTION FINAL FOR FIRST TIME SINCE 2009

Del Oro edges Jesuit, reaches section final for first time since 2009

JORDAN GEORGESON

Gold Country Media | 2/20/2024

Survive and advance. That is the motto of every team still standing in the Sac-Joaquin Section basketball playoffs and nobody knows that better than Del Oro High School.

After pulling out a 76-74 victory over No. 5 St. Mary’s Friday night in Loomis, the No. 4 Golden Eagles found themselves on the road for the first time this postseason as they visited top-seeded Jesuit Monday night in the Division II semifinals.

It was another back-and-forth game, with neither team holding a double-digit lead but the Golden Eagles found a way to pull through with a 66-62 victory to advance to the section championship for the first time since the 2008-09 season.

“It's a great feeling,” Del Oro coach Geoff Broyles said of reaching the final for the first time in 15 years. “I'm super proud of our guys, super happy for them. They've been playing their tails off all year and to come into here and beat a really, really good basketball team in a tough environment. That’s huge.”

The Golden Eagles led by six at the half, but the Marauders came out strong in the third quarter and outscored Del Oro 15-6 to take a three-point lead into the fourth. Despite its offensive struggles in the first, Del Oro was able to regain its composure and hold strong on both ends of the floor, not letting the home-court advantage affect them.

“We believe in each other and the kids believe and have trust in each other,” Broyles said of Del Oro’s composure. “It was just a matter of us knocking some shots down, getting a stop, and getting something done transition. We just needed to get back to doing what we want to do, which is move the basketball, isolate somebody inside and see if we can get some buckets at the rim.”

For the majority of the fourth quarter, it was Jake Williams that was getting those buckets at the rim. The senior center scored eight points in the fourth, finishing with 13, and was a force on the offensive and defensive glass.

“Jake did a great job for us in that fourth quarter. We got some things inside, got a couple back cuts and that really helped us down the stretch,” Broyles said. “Our kids just buckled down there They are a very resilient group and a very gritty group and it showed that fourth quarter.”

Del Oro’s do-it-all point guard Caden Pinnick echoed Broyles’ statement of grit, saying, “We just hustle, we believe in each other and we get after it. We may not have the most athletic people, we might not have all the five-star players, but everyone is very balanced on this team and we all compete. We all got each other's back and at the end of the day that's what's gonna help us win.”

Pinnick led the Golden Eagles with 17 points, taking control of the game in the first half and icing it down the stretch from the free throw line. The senior was in his element on the road, interacting with Jesuit’s student section and using it to fuel his game.

“It's always fun to play against a crowd that hates you, when it's just you and your team out there against everybody,” Pinnick said. “When you get that energy going and it kind of brings the best out of you and that’s what it does for me. It gets me going.”

“He's just the ultimate competitor,” Broyles said of Pinnick. “There's kids who like to win and there's kids who hate to lose and he hates to lose. He's a kid who just finds a way to make plays for himself and for his team.”

Also making plays for the Golden Eagles was freshman Brenden Hawkins, who contributed 14 points to the win and reeled in one of the key defensive rebounds in the final minute that helped his team put the game out of reach.

“He certainly doesn't play like a freshman. He's a kid who's got confidence and the team is confident in him. They constantly tell him to keep making plays and he made some big plays for us down the stretch,” Broyles said of Hawkins. “I thought he did a great job defensively for us all night long because he had a tough matchup. He keeps his composure and he’s always confident.”

Hawkins credits the mentorship of Pinnick as well as his older brother Jaylen, who was a senior on last year’s Del Oro squad, in helping him become the player that he is today.

“My brother has helped me a lot,” Hawkins said. “He facetimes me after every game and tells me what I need to do or what I did well. Caden has always been on me too and is always talking to me like a brother and is always there for me.”

Del Oro (24-7) advances to the D-II championship game Wednesday against No. 3 Vanden (23-8) at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento at 4 p.m.

The Golden Eagles will have their hands full with the Vikings’ dynamic forward Tyler Thompson, a three-star prospect that is one of the top players in the section and has generated Division I college interest.

Broyles knows that Del Oro’s work will be cut out for it, but is confident that it can get the job done and bring a section title back to Loomis.

Said Broyles, “We're gonna have to do our homework on them but we know they're going to be a really good basketball team. They're gonna be an athletic team. T... Click here to read full article

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