Nighthawks Fall In Tough Away Game

THE NATOMAS BUZZ | @natomasbuzz

ORANGEVALE – Call it a tough loss.

But the word tough had many layers as the Natomas High boys varsity basketball team lost to Casa Roble 61-45 Wednesday night.

The environment was tough with a small, but vocal crowd.

The opponent was tough. The brothers of Eric and Mason Stuteville stand a good 8 to 10 inches over any player on the Nighthawks roster.

But most importantly to Natomas head coach Brian Hamilton, the toughness of his players for every second of the game proved to be the best use of the word.

“We are getting tougher and making less mistakes and competing a lot longer now,” Hamilton said.

Led by a combined 32 points and 29 rebounds — the elder Eric, who stand 6 feet, 10 inches and will play for Sacramento State next season, and Mason, the junior, who is no slouch at 6 feet, 8 inches  and had an Arizona State coach in the stands recruiting him — look the part of a dynamic duo for Casa Roble.

But thanks in part to hard-nosed full court defense and exceptional rebounding by Marcus Perez, Jamey Morgan and Kurtis Oroy, the undersized Nighthawks (0-8) played tough despite the final score.

“It was a great experience for us and we are getting better every game,” Hamilton said. “We are building in different areas. It was a great game against size. It was a good learning experience.”

Hamilton knew his players were not necessarily intimidated by the size of the Rams, but unsure of what to expect.

“It wasn’t so much intimidation,” Hamilton said. “I think the kids didn’t know what to expect. I don’t think they knew how big those guys really are.”

With as many turnovers (6) as points in the first quarter — the play of the Nighthawks showcased that uncertainty in the first quarter.

But despite the 16point loss, the Nighthawks trailed by only two points (29-27) in the second and third quarter combined – including a 9-0 run to end the third quarter that cut the lead to 43-33.

“We settled down a bit and after halftime we started to settle down and take it to (Casa) and try to draw fouls,” Hamilton.

But in the fourth quarter, the size of the brothers ended up being too much for Natomas as they combined to score 14 of the Rams 18 in the final quarter.

“It’s tough when you have to play against guys with that size,” Hamilton said.

Manning led the Nighthawks with 13 points and Jamison Lyons chipped in with 10 points.

But it was the sophomore Morgan (11 points) that helped fuel the third quarter run for Natomas after lying on the court after taking an elbow to the face.

“He is a sophomore with no varsity basketball experience,” Hamilton said. “Each game he is getting tougher and learning from each situation and how to be physical on the offensive end.”

The Nighthawks are scheduled to play at Nevada Union on Friday, Dec. 21 but Hamilton said the storm in the forecast for this weekend may cancel the game.

Send story ideas and questions to Trevor Horn at [email protected] or on Twitter @trevhorn.

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