Trip to Hornets’ nest sounds inviting to Giannoni III |

Trip to Hornets’ nest sounds inviting to Giannoni III

Steve Yingling, Tribune sports editor

John Giannoni III will be right at home in a Hornets’ nest on Saturday night.

The former South Tahoe High all-league guard will lead his Portland State Vikings into Sacramento for a key Big Sky match with Sacramento State.

“I just want to go out and perform well, play the game and be myself,” Giannoni said Thursday, several hours before his Vikings tipped off against Northern Arizona.

Relieving the tension of playing 600 miles from his college campus will be the familiar faces in the stands. His parents John II and Kerry purchased 100 reserved sets for family and friends. Also, several connections at Sac State came through with 25 student tickets.

“There will be a lot of family there, as well as lot of people who grew up with him,” Kerry said.

With so many rooters in his corner, Giannoni doesn’t believe that he will be uptight.

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“Oh man, I don’t feel any pressure from it,” Giannoni said. “I’m just happy that a lot of people are coming. I’ve always wanted to play at the Division I level and I’m happy that they are coming along the road with me.

“I just want to go out and perform well.”

Giannoni enters the weekend following his best game as a Division I player.

The backup point guard helped the Vikings rally from a 21-point deficit against Montana State on Feb. 8. Giannoni scored a career-high nine points, including 4 for 4 at the foul line, and collected two assists and a steal.

“We brought it back to one and had a chance to take the lead,” Giannoni said of the 60-56 defeat.

For now, the junior guard will remain a reserve. However, Giannoni believes that ample playing time is in his future if he continues to limit his turnovers.

“The thing with coach, he seems to let me go as long as I’m playing well and taking care of the ball,” Giannoni said. “I’ve done a better job of that in the second half of the year, as well as rallying guys and getting them going.”

Giannoni was in and out of the lineup early in the season because of a rolled ankle and back spasms.

Tipoff in the 1,500-seat Hornet Gym is 7:05 p.m. Saturday.

Portland State Vikings is 4-18, including 2-7 in the Big Sky. The seventh-place Vikings trail sixth-place Sac State by half a game and third-place Northern Arizona by 1 1/2 games. Only the top six teams advance to the March 8-12 conference tournament.

Butcher works way into starting lineup

The good play of STHS alums must be catching because Andy Butcher is playing some of his best ball now, too.

The former Viking guard made the most of his 16 minutes of playing time against Sonoma State last Friday in Chico. Butcher scored 10 points on 4-of-5 field-goal attempts, grabbed three rebounds and made four assists in Chico State’s 74-70 loss to Sonoma State.

The following night Butcher was inserted into the starting lineup against San Francisco State. He didn’t disappoint coach Puck Smith.

Butcher had seven points, three assists and two rebounds in 37 minutes as Chico State whipped San Francisco State 87-66.

Scott Land led the Wildcats with a game-high 31 points.

The hot-shooting Wildcats made 61 percent of their field-goal tries, including 68 percent from 3-point territory.

Chico State (11-8, 8-6 CCAA) will visit CSU San Bernardino on Friday and Cal Poly Pomona on Saturday.

Collins breaks her 200 fly mark

Kristi Collins, a Fresno State University junior, swam the fastest 200 butterfly of her collegiate career and finished among the top three in three races as the Bulldogs outstroked San Jose State 180-120 last Saturday in Fresno.

Collins’ personal-best time of 2:07.67 in the 200 butterfly was good for second place. She also finished second in her other two races.

Also playing a major role in the Bulldogs’ victory in their home finale was sophomore Melissa Johnson, who won three races.

Fresno State finished their dual meet season with a 7-4-1 record. The Bulldogs will compete in the Western Athletic Championships Feb. 26 through March 1 in San Antonio.

Barna hits in each of Feather River’s victories

Jill Barna hit in both games, including a team-leading two in the night cap, as Feather River College swept a softball doubleheader from Yuba City on Tuesday.

The former STHS softball player started a four-run sixth-inning rally with a single as Feather River wiped out a one-run deficit for a 7-4 victory.

In game two, Barna singled, doubled and scored to back the two-hit pitching of Stephanie McMaster as Feather River romped 8-0.

Barna also delivered an RBI.

Feather River has a 5-1 season record.