Inderkum Late Rally Falls Short

Inderkum student section before tipoff. Photo: T. Horn

Inderkum cheering section at playoff game in Auburn. Photo: T. Horn

THE NATOMAS BUZZ | @natomasbuzz

AUBURN – The Inderkum High School boys varsity basketball team lost to Placer High 62-59 Wednesday night during the first-round Sac Joaquin Section Division III playoff game despite a last-minute rally.

The Tigers led by as many as eight points during the first half, but Placer (20-8 overall) outscored Inderkum 14-4 in the third quarter and never looked back.

“I think we played hard. I will never take that away from them,” Inderkum head coach Rodney Haymer said of his team. “Our guys fought to the end.”

The gym was packed with a spirited crowd supporting both schools, including a busload of student from Inderkum.

“The energy was crazy,” Inderkum senior center Samer Dhillon said. “I couldn’t thank (the students) enough.”

The cheering was so loud that players and coaches could not hear each other and Haymer turned to flashcards to signal plays.

“That is a lovely environment to play in,” said Haymer. “I really believe that their crowd and their band and how they prepared and chanted throughout the whole game—that was their sixth man.”

Led by a 10-point first half performance by Terrence White and two big 3-pointers from Nef Torres, Inderkum looked in control and seemed to set the tempo before halftime.

But coming out of intermission, Placer senior forward Isaiah Pineiro led the Hillmen and set the pace with key steals, big rebounds and timely shots – stealing Inderkum’s (18-10) energy.

“(We had) no energy, no effort, no anything in the third quarter,” Haymer said. “Then all of a sudden we wake up and want to play. But today it was too late.

Pinero suffered a scratch on his forehead coming on a pump-fake under the basket with 3:11 left in the game. Placer held a 45-43 lead when he went to the locker room to get bandaged up and the Hillmen’s Michael McNamera went on to score five consecutive points which led to a 7-0 run to pull away from the Tigers.

Two late 3-pointers from Torres and LD Dhaliwal got the Inderkum within three with 20 seconds remaining in the game, but Pineiro returned to the court and made four free throws in the final stretch for Placer. The Hillmen advance to a second-round playoff at Sierra High of Manteca Friday night.

“(This is) still the best the season Inderkum has ever had,” said Haymer of the Tiger’s first-ever TCC title. “We had never won a TCC championship and never won 18 games.”

Haymer already looks forward to 2013-14.

White, a junior who led Inderkum with 17 points, along with Torres (14), Dhaliwal and leading rebounder Andrew Ignont plan to return next season for the Tigers. Haymer said graduating seniors Quentin Davis (10 points), Dhillon, Seth Just and Lennard Shell will be missed.

“Losing tonight,” Dhillon said. “This is a hard to experience.”

Contact Trevor Horn at [email protected] and on Twitter @trevhorn.

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