Sheldon beats Salesian in NorCal boys classic

Sheldon's Washington-bound Darin Johnson had a game high 24 points on 5-of-9 three-point shooting, including two from NBA-range. The Huskies shot 9-of-18 from beyond the arc. Photo: Harold Abend.

Sheldon’s Washington-bound Darin Johnson had a game high 24 points on 5-of-9 three-point shooting, including two from NBA-range. The Huskies shot 9-of-18 from beyond the arc. Photo: Harold Abend.

Overtime needed as the Huskies end Salesian’s 75-game win streak against NorCal opponents. Down south, Long Beach Poly’s decision to knowingly use an ineligible player may be the biggest story. Read on as well for Pleasant Grove boys, Salesian girls and Redondo boys highlights.

By Harold Abend & Ronnie Flores
Contributing: Paul Muyskens, Mark Tennis

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In a game that had more twists and turns than a mystery novel, No. 4 seed Sheldon of Sacramento (27-5) overcame a 53-47 deficit with 4:11 left in regulation to beat state No. 1-ranked Salesian of Richmond 63-59 on Tuesday night at St. Mary’s College in Moraga.

It’s a shame the two top teams in Northern California had to meet in the semifinals of the CIF Open Division regional playoffs, but that’s what happened.

Washington-bound Darin Johnson had a game-high 24 points on 5-of-9 shooting from beyond the 3-point line. Two of his treys were NBA-range, including one that gave Sheldon a 58-57 lead in overtime.

“I saw the shot clock was winding down, and I was feeling it all night so I decided to let it go,” Johnson told Cal-Hi Sports.

Top-seeded Salesian (30-4) still wasn’t done, but two free throws by Mario Dunn that gave the Pride a 59-58 lead with 2:17 left were the team’s final points.

Cal-bound Jabari Bird (23 points) had a good look at a 3-pointer at 1:15 left that was off iron, and when he got the ball in his hands for a final chance with the score 62-59, Sheldon’s San Diego State-bound Dakari Allen (14 points, three steals), who was hounding the Bird Man all night on defense, stole the ball from him and Bird had to foul Allen with 2.4 seconds left. An Allen free throw was the game’s final point.

“Dakari is our stopper,” Sheldon head coach Joey Rollings remarked. “Jabari had 23 but he could have had a lot more.”

Sheldon was the fresher team at the beginning, and that may have had something to do with Salesian having nine days between games.

The Huskies bolted out to a 22-11 lead, and although the Pride cut it to 22-16 after one quarter, the momentum was still with the visitors. Sheldon eventually opened it up to 41-28 on Allen’s first NBA-range trey before Salesian came roaring back with a 25-6 run that gave the Pride the six-point lead they blew.

“We kept them to one shot in overtime and never panicked,” Rollings said. “The seniors have a will to win. They’re Warriors.”

Several factors were key to the victory.

On long range shooting, Sheldon was 9-of-18 overall from beyond the arc while Salesian was 5-of-17. Sheldon also had 11 steals as a team, with many leading to fast break baskets, while Salesian only had four steals.

“To win the whole thing you have to have a little luck, but they made their luck, and they made the plays down the stretch while we made some mistakes,” said Salesian head coach Bill Mellis.

Sheldon will now face Archbishop Mitty of San Jose in the NorCal open division final on Saturday at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento.

“Sheldon is a quality team that could win it all,” Mellis remarked.

Before the Huskies can win it all, they’ll have to get past 2012 Mr. Basketball State Player of the Year Aaron Gordon and Mitty.

“Gordon is going to get his points but we’ve got to keep attacking and play good defense like we did tonight,” said Rollings about the matchup.

Open South Boys: Poly loses, Chatman plays

Long Beach Poly’s boys basketball program had a season-long issue with the practices and rulings of the CIF Southern Section. On Tuesday night, Poly sent a loud and clear message about how the program felt about the situation. The return message may be just as loud and clear.

With their CIF Southern California open division semifinal game against Mater Dei of Santa Ana out of reach, the Jackrabbits inserted 6-foot-7 junior guard Kameron Chatman into the game. There was 1:12 left in the game and Mater Dei was well on its way to a 83-63 victory.

Chatman, a transfer from Jefferson High School in Portland, Ore., was ruled ineligible by the CIFSS to play for Poly’s varsity team until the date of the regional final — if Poly made it that far.

The CIF Southern Section ruled that Chatman was ineligible for one year after it interpreted his transfer as a player following in the path of his summer/travel ball coach. Long Beach Poly head coach Sharrief Metoyer is listed as the head coach of the Inner City Players (ICP) 17U elite team and has been involved with the organization since 2002.

The ICP program is based out of Portland and was founded in 1997 by Canaan Chatman, Kameron’s father. Metoyer played college ball with Canaan at the University of Portland in the mid 1990s and has known Canaan before Cameron was born. Metoyer is also Cameron’s godson.

Metoyer’s and Poly’s stance on the issue is that every other high-profile boys’ basketball transfer was eventually granted eligibility by the CIFSS. The CIFSS stance, according to a statement by spokesman Thom Simmons given to the Long Beach Press-Telegram on Monday, is that a godson is not given the same consideration as a son who moves to another school along with his father.

So why did Metoyer insert Chatman into the game? “I just wanted the young man (Chatman) to have a chance to touch the floor,” the coach said later on Tuesday night.

Poly supporters were also unhappy that as the No. 3 seed in the SoCal Open Division playoffs, No. 6 seed St. John Bosco was awarded host priority for the two teams’ opening round matchup. Poly won that game played at Cerritos College by two points. Furthermore, Metoyer felt Poly’s side of the CIFSS Div. I-AA playoff bracket was unfairly stacked with a much tougher set of teams than Mater Dei’s side. Mater Dei was the No. 1 seed and Poly No. 2 in a section playoff won by Etiwanda, which will face Mater Dei in the SoCal Open Division final.

There is precedent in California for a CIF member school allowing a knowingly ineligible player to participate in a game.

In October of 2007, the Franklin of Stockton football program knowingly used three players who had been ruled ineligible in a game against Tracy.

That next Tuesday, the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section held a press conference to announce that Franklin’s football program was suspended for the rest of that season and the 2008 and 2009 seasons as well.

That incident was a different sport, happened in a different section and was at the start of a game and not at the end of one that was decided. Still, the current CIFSS Blue Book (Rule 500.5 specifically) does give the CIFSS the authority to suspend Poly’s athletics program because of the decision to put Chatman on the floor.

In the Franklin case, the punishment was only lessened after the head football coach at the time, the late Tom Verner, resigned.

Malik Thames poured in 31 points for Pleasant Grove in probably the biggest win in school history, which knocked out perennial power De La Salle from the NorCal Division I playoffs.

Malik Thames poured in 31 points for Pleasant Grove in probably the biggest win in school history, which knocked out perennial power De La Salle from the NorCal Division I playoffs.

D1 North Boys: Thames, Pleasant Grove time has come

An expected close game between De La Salle of Concord and Pleasant Grove of Elk Grove in Tuesday’s CIF NorCal Division I boys’ semifinals didn’t last that long as the Eagles opened up a 20-10 lead after one quarter on their way to a 68-51 victory.

After a back and forth first few minutes, the Eagles, trailing 4-2, got back-to-back 3-pointers by Malik Thames to take an 8-4 lead and never trailed the rest of the way.

Matthew Hayes then hit his first of two buzzer beaters on the night at the end of the first quarter as the ball bounced off the front of the rim and up before falling in to give Pleasant Grove a double-digit lead it would maintain the rest of the night.

Pleasant Grove’s defense also stepped up, with James Watson shadowing De La Salle standout Elliott Pitts and holding him scoreless in the first quarter.

“James did a great job,” said Eagles’ head coach John DePonte. “We don’t count on his offense as he is our go to guy for defense. He is a tough, hard-nosed kid.”

Pitts would score seven points in the second quarter, but no other Spartan scored in the final eight minutes before halftime as Hayes hit another 3-pointer to beat the halftime buzzer and make it 37-17.

Thames took his turn to beat the buzzer in the third quarter as his 3-pointer made it 56-32. He would finish the night with 31 points and several autographs signed.

“He played phenomenal,” DePonte said. “He played with so much poise and confidence. He controlled the tempo of the game.”

Despite getting banged up and playing with a bloody noise, Cole Nordquist added 14 points while Hayes scored 13 points in the win. Pitts finished with a team-high 17 points for the Spartans.

Pleasant Grove will now play in the D1 NorCal regional final Saturday at Sleep Train Arena against Deer Valley of Antioch, which edged Bellarmine of San Jose on Tuesday and is led by McDonald’s All-American Marcus Lee. The Eagles will hit the floor several hours before league rival Sheldon of Sacramento plays Archbishop Mitty of San Jose in the NorCal Open Division championship.

D2 South Boys: Redondo Union Keeps Magic Alive

Redondo Union is definitely not the most talented boys team alive in the state regional playoffs, but coach Reggie Morris Jr.’s club keeps finding ways to win.

With its game against Hoover of San Diego tied at 52-52 after a short jumper by Hoover’s Tyrone Johnson with 1:36 remaining, Redondo Union scored the last eight points to pull out a 60-52 victory. With the win, the No. 2 seeded Seahawks will play top-seed J.W. North of Riverside (31-3), which beat Westlake 58-50 in the other SoCal Div. II regional semifinal, in Saturday afternoon’s SoCal regional final.

Junior guard Ian Fox led Redondo Union (26-8) with 24 points. Senior guard Derek Biale added 17 points for the victors. Hoover, which started four underclassmen, was led by sophomore forward Jordan Alexander, who finished with 19 points.

“Talent-wise, most of these teams are much better than us,” Morris Jr. said. “We know North is really good and they’re bigger. We’re really going to have to challenge them on the boards. Tonight, some breaks went our way.”

D4 North Girls: Moore to come for Salesian

It wasn’t pretty but the Salesian Pride will be playing in the Northern Regional Division IV title game on Saturday with a chance to repeat as champions thanks to another huge performance by State Junior of the Year candidate Mariya Moore.

In a 61-54 win over Menlo School of Atherton in a girls game played Tuesday night at St. Mary’s College before the Salesian boys took on Sheldon of Sacramento, the 5-foot-11 Moore literally carried the Pride on her shoulders after finishing with a triple-double 28 points, 16 rebounds, 13 steals and five assists.

With Menlo leading 37-36 late in the third quarter, Moore sparked a 9-0 run to give Salesian (27-6) a 45-37 lead entering the fourth quarter and the cushion it needed.

Menlo (22-10) led 12 times before the 9-0 run and there were nine ties. The Lady Knights were led by 6-foot-4 USC-bound Drew Edelman with 23 points and 11 rebounds.

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