Sacramento Sheldon captures top division championship of 23rd Annual Torrey Pines Holiday Classic with title game win over San Diego St. Augustine after 2-2 performance at Tarkanian Classic. Richmond Salesian takes third with local school Mission Hills and host school also capturing tourney titles. By Ronnie Flores.
SAN DIEGO — California high school basketball fans expect the team at Sheldon of Sacramento to be one of the state’s very best this season after representing Northern California in last year’s CIF Division I state title game.
On paper, the Huskies are more potent than last season, but ineligibility and injury kept Sheldon from playing up to its potential at last week’s Tarkanian Classic in Las Vegas. Coach Joe Rollings’ club limped to a 2-2 mark.
This week at the Under Armour Torrey Pines Holiday Classic, the Huskies turned their fortunes around and captured the National Division championship with a 64-47 victory over upstart St. Augustine of San Diego.
Even though San Diego State recruit D ‘Erryl Williams returned from an ankle injury to give Sheldon a physical and emotional lift, it’s scary to realize the Huskies are far from full strength.
“Last year D ‘Erryl was the MVP of the (Sac Joaquin) section and he’s just a beast to contain,” Rollings said. “Now Dakari Allen can relax and play his game and not worry about having to score 25 points a game.”
Sheldon (7-3) was holding a precarious six-point (30-24) halftime lead over St. Augustine when the 6-foot-6 Allen, also headed to San Diego State, took over the game in the third period with his contagious blend of passing, rebounding, shot-blocking and inside finishes. The Huskies outscored St. Augustine, 23-9, in the period and led 53-33 entering the fourth. Allen’s 21-point performance was so spectacular he sucked the life out of any Saints’ comeback attempt. The final eight minutes were a mere formality.
“At the Tarkanian Tournament, we didn’t accomplish what we wanted,” said Allen, the National Division MVP. “D ‘Erryl got back and you see what happened.
“I felt like I didn’t do anything in the first half of this game. Tony Bland (San Diego State assistant and former L.A. Westchester star) told me to come out, be aggressive and play my game and that’s what I did.”
Williams finished with nine points against St. Augustine and was named all-tournament. Sheldon also got a big lift from freshman guard Devin Greene, who netted 12 points.
In addition to the 6-foot-4 Williams, who Rollings stated is playing at approximately 70 percent full strength, 6-foot-2 senior guard Jalen Hicks is just rounding into form from a high ankle sprain. On top of that, when the Huskies travel to New Orleans for their next game on January 2, Washington recruit Darin Johnson will be eligible to play. Keep in mind, senior guard Armani Hampton is not playing because of a rehab setback of his ACL injury.
“We’re coming together as a team and we still have a few guys out,” Williams said. “I wanted to rest my ankle in Las Vegas for San Diego (event). I’m just getting a feel for the game.”
St. Augustine (8-2) was the first team from San Diego County to advance to the National Division title game since the 2004-05 season, when a Richie Williams-led Steele Canyon won the championship over El Toro.
St. Augustine’s Brynton Lemar, a complete steal for UC-Davis, scored 19 points in a losing effort against Sheldon. He was named all-tournament.
In semifinal action, Sheldon held off pesky Windward of Los Angeles, 60-50. The Wildcats were attempting to advance to the National Division final for the second consecutive year after losing to national power DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md.) in last year’s title game.
Windward (7-5) took a 17-13 lead after Northern Colorado-bound guard Jordan Wilson hit a 32-foot, 3-pointer at the first quarter buzzer. Sheldon led 27-25 at halftime, but used a 19-10 third quarter advantage to take control of the game.
Ryan Manning led Sheldon with 20 points, as his jumper was on, and Williams controlled the paint en route to 12 points.
St. Augustine advanced to the championship game with a 56-42 victory over defending CIF Division IV state champ Salesian of Richmond, the National Division favorite which came into the contest with a 9-1 record. The Pride came out sluggish offensively, but the Saints couldn’t muster much either. Salesian led 16-12 at halftime.
In the third quarter, St. Augustine picked up the pace behind standouts Lemar and junior Trey Kell. The duo matched Salesian’s highly-regarded backcourt, as the Saints raced out to a 36-33 lead heading into the fourth quarter. They never let up as Kell (18) and Lemar (17) combined for 35 points.
“Their guards are great, so we just wanted to play as a team,” Lemar said. “We did well in stopping their best player Jabari Bird. We wanted to hit them first.”
The Cal-bound Bird, a McDonald’s All-American and Cal-Hi Sports Mr. Basketball candidate, was held scoreless for the first three quarters. He finished with seven points.
In Saturday’s third place game, Salesian bounced back from its sub par Friday performance with a 65-50 victory over Windward. Both both teams desperately wanted to avoid a second consecutive loss in a rematch of the 2011 CIF Division IV state title game won in upset fashion by Windward.
Salesian (10-2) began to pull away at the end of third period behind the play of Bird and wing Jermaine Edmonds Jr. With the score tied at 39-39, Salesian burst to a 48-41 lead after three quarters as Bird closed out the period strong. Edmonds, an unsigned senior drawing interest from Cal Poly SLO, then proceeded to score seven consecutive points as The Pride took a 56-41 lead with 4:55 remaining in the game.
Windward (7-6) had no answer for Edmonds, as the all-tourney choice netted 16 points. Bird led the defending CIF Division IV state champs with 18 points.
“My goal coming into this game (against Windward) was to stay aggressive and do what I needed to help our team win,” Edmonds said.
Wilson, an all-tourney choice for the second consecutive season, led Windward with 20 points.
American Division Championship:
Mission Hills (San Marcos) 60, Mesa (Mesa, Ariz.) 53
Even though it was 5-foot-8 senior guard Kibret Woldemichel who was named American Division MVP following his 24-point performance, it was teammate C.J. Wilson who came up with the play of the game when its outcome was still in the balance.
Wilson came up with a steal and lay-up with 34 seconds remaining to give Mission Hills (12-1) a 58-53 lead. Mesa (14-2) led 43-38 after three quarters, but all-tournament selection Kameron Rooks of Mission Hills tied the game at 49-49 on a turnaround lay-up with 4:31 left. Another lay-up by Rooks with 3:48 gave The Grizzlies a lead it would not relinquish.
Rooks, a 7-foot senior and the son of former NBA center Sean Rooks (Fontana), finished with 14 points. Mission Hills’ only loss so far this season is a 76-67 setback to National Division finalist St. Augustine at its own Wolfpack/Horsman Tournament in early December.
Coming in, the only loss for Mesa (which was led by all-tournament choice D.J. Henderson with 12 points) was in its first game in mid-November — a 67-65 setback to Hamilton (Chandler, Ariz.).
Mayor’s Division Championship:
Torrey Pines (Del Mar) 56, Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth) 35
The host Falcons (9-4) were led to victory by Sam Worman, the Mayor’s Division MVP. The 6-foot-4 junior forward netted 20 points as Torrey Pines pulled away down the stretch against an underclass-dominated club.