The first set of games in this new series will be Friday and Saturday in the Sacramento area. We’re focusing on new teams in new leagues on the boys side with a matchup of CIF state playoff regulars for the girls on Saturday.
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(Note: Most up-to-date information on any player injuries not available)
Friday, Jan. 4 Boys Basketball
Grant (Sacramento) at Burbank (Sacramento)
This will be the visiting Pacers’ first game in boys hoops as a member of the Metro Conference. They were in the Delta League last season. Grant ended 2018 at 12-2 with both of its losses coming to teams from outside of the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section (Bishop O’Dowd of Oakland and Spanish Springs of Nevada). The Pacers also have won two tournament titles (Mark Gallo Invitational in Modesto and Cordova Christmas Classic). Burbank hasn’t been as strong at 10-6 with two of the losses coming in that Cordova tourney. Still, the Titans are playing at home and feature 2018 Cal-Hi Sports all-state D2 second team Levelle Bailey, who also was on last year’s Grid-Hoop All-State team. Grant’s Steven Richardson (6-4 G) also was on that same all-state team. The Pacers also have senior Dee Juan Pruitt (6-7 F) and junior A.J. McGee (6-0 G) among those back from squad last year that reached the SJS D2 final. Burbank was an SJS D2 playoff team last year as well.
Friday, Jan. 4 Boys Basketball
Capital Christian (Sacramento) at Sacramento
Both of these traditional powers from the Sac-Joaquin Section are new members of the Capital Athletic League. Neither one has gotten off to a great start this season like CAL teams Rio Americano and El Camino (both 13-2), but both have played tough schedules. Capital Christian, which only a few years ago played Archbishop Mitty of San Jose for the CIF NorCal Open Division title, is actually only 2-11 heading into a Wednesday league opener. The Cougars, though, have been one of the most unlucky teams in the state. They have overtime losses to Vanden and Folsom and they lost by two to both Alameda and Oak Ridge. They also were in the highest division at the Torrey Pines Holiday Classic in San Diego and in a top division at the Tarkanian Classic in Las Vegas. Despite the record, anyone who thinks Capital Christian is going to be a walkover in the CAL is badly mistaken. For Sac High, its new home in the CAL follows a longtime affiliation with the Metro League. The Dragons were 6-5 at the end of 2018, including a 2-2 showing at their own St. Hope Elite Classic. One of their losses in that event was 74-68 to Folsom so comparing the Folsom score to Capital Christian’s Folsom score (CC lost in overtime) shows you that this definitely qualifies as an intriguing CAL matchup. Guard Izayah Talmadge, a third team All-Metro selection last year by the Sacramento Bee, is one of Sacramento’s players to watch.
Saturday, Jan. 5 Girls Basketball
West Campus (Sacramento) at Folsom
The host Bulldogs were 10-0 and considered in the top 12 of the state rankings until they lost twice last week at the So Cal Holiday Classic tourney to JSerra of San Juan Capistrano and Bishop’s of La Jolla. They still have a great early-season win over a McClatchy of Sacramento squad that won one of the titles in that same So Cal Holiday Classic event. Folsom comes off of its New Year’s break looking to notch a win against a West Campus squad that has won CIF state titles the last two seasons. The Warriors won in Division 4 two seasons ago and won last season in Division 3. Their top returning player from last year is guard Gabby Rones, who was averaging 21.4 ppg through her first seven games this season. West Campus enters this contest at 6-7, but it is a rematch of a battle between the two from earlier this season at the Dorothy Speck tourney. Folsom won that game, but it was by just 45-44. The Bulldogs are building this year’s team around sophomore guard Charity Gallegos and 6-foot-6 junior center Katie Harris. They didn’t win a state title last season, but they were in the CIF NorCal Open Division playoffs and finished 27-5 with a loss to Salesian of Richmond.
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Mark Tennis is the co-founder and publisher of CalHiSports.com. He also is author of “High School Football In California,” which was No. 1 on Amazon.com’s list of bestsellers in the teen/young adult football category for several weeks after it was released. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t forget to follow Mark on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle: @CalHiSports