Coaches of strong high school girls basketball teams such as St. Francis and Kennedy are always on the hunt for good competition.
But if St. Francis coach Vic Pitton and Kennedy's Dave Parsh had their way, the No. 5 Troubadours and the No. 6 Cougars would not have played each other in Monday's fifth annual Common Good Classic at Antelope High School.
The two girls powers had battled nine days earlier in a nonleague game at Kennedy, won 46-43 by St. Francis.
If they had their way, Parsh and Pitton, friends and former coaching colleagues at St. Francis, would prefer their second meeting occur in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I playoffs in March.
"When we learned we had been paired together for the Common Good, we tried to re-arrange with other teams, but it didn't work out," Pitton said. "So we decided to go ahead and play it's for a good cause (scholarships for emancipated foster teens) and we wanted to be challenged."
The big beneficiaries: The fans.
They saw two of the area's top players dazzle in a game St. Francis (10-6) didn't break open until the final minute in winning 63-51. St. Francis finished with an 8-0 run, making eight of 10 free throws.
Junior Lynette Johnson, one of Northern California's top juniors and a versatile inside-outside presence and three-year star for the Cougars (13-5), continued her impressive play in scoring a game-high 26 points, including five three-pointers.
Najah Queenland, a sophomore transfer from Sacramento High, put on her own sparkling effort in leading St. Francis with 17 points.
Parsh on the 5-foot-10 Johnson: "She's a great kid. Her game is continually improving. If she keeps working hard, the sky's the limit for her."
Pitton on the 5-10 Queenland: "In the past she played the post and the wing, and we're converting her into a point guard.
"The young lady is extremely intelligent. She is learning at an accelerated rate and making good progress."
Ahead for St. Francis, the defending D-I section champs: No. 3 Oak Ridge on Friday at home, national power St. Mary's of Stockton on Saturday at home. The Troubadours visit No. 2 Pleasant Grove on Jan. 24.
On the horizon for Kennedy: Top-ranked Sacramento at home Thursday.
"Having a game like this against St. Francis can get us ready for the intensity we're going to face against Sac High," said Parsh, whose Cougars played Lincoln of Stockton last year and Campolindo of Moraga in 2010 in the same event.
"The Common Good has been good for us. It's a great way to get a playoff-caliber game."
No. 13 Antelope girls 31, Center 20 The Titans (11-5) outscored the Cougars (5-11) 9-3 in the final quarter as Ashley Hawkins and Tyler Ellis each finished with 14 points.
No. 5 Antelope boys 60, No. 13 Center 46 In front of a packed house and two large and raucous standing rooting sections for the marquee neighborhood finale of the two-day, 10-game event, the towering duo of Isaiah Ellis and Gabe Bealer helped the Titans (16-1) break open a one-point game at halftime by outscoring the Cougars 31-18 in the final two quarters.
The 6-6 Ellis and the 6-5 Bealer, both juniors, dominated the inside in blocking and altering shots while combining for 34 points. Jarvis Watkins added 16 points for Antelope.
Christopher Smith led Center (13-4) with 17 points.
"I love rivalry games," said Antelope coach Rob Richards. "Our kids know each other, a lot of them grew up together. We all play in the same summer league, the same tournaments. So it was a hard-fought, mutual-respect game between both teams."
Davis boys 73, No. 18 Cordova 70 In a roller coaster contest, the Lancers (9-6) held the state's top scoring team 11 points below its 84.1 points per game average, but couldn't overcome 30 turnovers. Grant Dickerson's three-point shot with 1:55 to play put the Blue Devils (10-8) ahead to stay 68-67.
Hiram Johnson boys 59, Laguna Creek 52 Kenneth Grant scored 15 points, Philip Morgan 14 and Charles Mills 11 as the Warriors (6-8) defeated the Cardinals (8-10). Frank Obi scored a game-high 20 for Laguna Creek.
THE BEE'S TOP 20
PR previous ranking; records through Sunday
Team W-L PR
1. Sacramento 10-6 1
2. Pleasant Grove 9-6 3
3. Oak Ridge 13-5 2
4. El Camino 14-3 4
5. St. Francis 9-6 9
6. Kennedy 13-4 10
7. Florin 13-4 5
8. River City 18-1 8
9. Sheldon 13-5 7
10. Christian Bros. 12-5 13
11. Del Oro 9-8 11
12. Woodcreek 13-5 12
13. Antelope 10-5 6
14. Inderkum 10-5 14
15. Bear River 12-5 15
16. Monterey Trail 15-4 16
17. Del Campo 11-8 18
18. Valley 11-5 17
19. West Campus 10-5 19
20. River Valley 14-4 20