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Princeton done in by Dunsmuir
Missed lay-ups and errant passes on fast breaks stalled a strong start by the Princeton High boys basketball team and Dunsmuir High roared ahead for a 63-40 victory Tuesday in the first round of the Division VI playoffs in Princeton.
Princeton led 9-2 but suffered through a stretch where they failed to capitalize on four-consecutive trips down court where they had just one defender to beat in transition.
The No. 10 Tigers (13-7, 7-3 Evergreen) seized that opportunity and went on a 16-2 run, and turned the seven-point deficit into a seven-point lead by the end of the first quarter.
"The biggest thing that I don't like is to end it where we shot ourselves in the foot," Princeton coach Travis Bennett said.
The No. 7 Eagles (11-12, 7-3 Pioneer-Valley) struggled all year playing from behind and Tuesday was no different.
Princeton scored consecutive points just once after the first four minutes of the game — when Fernando Sotelo scored the final points of the first half and Luis Angel opened the second half with a basket.
"Teams shouldn't press us and Dunsmuir pressed us. We should have made them pay for it but instead we missed lay-ups, and before you knew it they were taking advantage of our turnovers and turning them into points," Bennett said.
Despite the loss, the season was an unequivocal success for a young team, which lost three starters and several key bench players to graduation after last season.
The hurdles they face during the season included playing the first 10 games without Sotelo, the team's leading scorer, and playing the final five games without their best defensive player, Gavino Mitchum, who went down with an injury.
"It's not a good end to the season, but overall, considering what we had to go through with losing so many seniors and the transition of having a lot of young guys step up — like Oscar (Espinoza), Luis (Angel) and Sal (Gutierrez) — we've had some good growth," Bennett said.
Next season, the Eagles will be without seniors Sotelo, Rod Angus, Eduardo Valencia and Luis Gonzalez. Sotelo led Princeton with 13 points and Angus scored four points before fouling out.
Angel, the team's sophomore point guard who excelled as the season progressed, added eight points. Espinoza, another sophomore guard, added six points, and junior forward Julian Rosas scored six.
Mason Mekeel led Dunsmuir with 17 points, Cody Hagedon scored 14 points and Justin Declusin added 10 points. The Tigers lost to No. 2 Redding Christian in the second round 61-36 on Thursday.
CONTACT Kirk Barron at 458-2121 or firstname.lastname@example.org.