Even with nine underclassmen and only two seniors, Terry Battenberg knew he had a special group of players.
It's a big reason he decided to come out of retirement and return to high school coaching at Capital Christian this season after a long and distinguished career stretching back to the late 1960s at Jesuit.
But potential is one thing, putting it into action is another. And while not yet completely satisfied, Battenberg is pleased with the progress.
"We're just really young, so we do some silly things at times," Battenberg said. "But we've gotten smarter and played a little better as the season has gone on."
The top-seeded Cougars showed their maturation, combined with their impressive package of speed, size and depth, to beat No. 4 Sacramento Waldorf 65-39 Wednesday in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division V boys basketball semifinals at Galt High School.
Six-foot-6 senior wing Matt Donlan (14 points), 6-5 sophomores Nifae Lealao (12 points) and D.J. Wilson (11 points and eight rebounds) and 6-5 freshmen Trey Belton (12 points, eight rebounds) led the way as the Cougars (24-5) will go after their first section boys basketball title Friday at Power Balance Pavilion.
While state scoring leader Chris Schwartz-Edmisten led Sacramento Waldorf (25-4) with 24 points, including all 13 of the Waves' fourth-quarter points, he struggled throughout the game to find his touch. The senior, averaging 34.4 points per game, made 8 of 34 shots from the field as he was hounded by Cougars defenders Justice Shelton-Mosley, Tanner Nissen and UC Iroegbu.
Brookside Christian (girls) 71, Capital Christian 25 in Galt Section scoring leader and sophomore guard Tiara Tucker had 23 points and freshman post Ra'kyra Gabriel had 16 points on a perfect 8 of 8 from the floor to lead the top-seeded Knights (25-4) from Stockton past the No. 4 Cougars (17-12).
Sophomore Haleigh Filer had 10 points for Capital Christian.
Brookside Christian will play No. 2 Turlock Christian, a 70-54 winner over No. 3 Ripon Christian, for the D-V girls title Friday at 4 p.m. at Power Balance.
West Campus (girls) 50, Colfax 47 in Lodi Junior post Haley Shaner and sophomore guard Eunique Nelson each finished with 14 points to lead the No. 3 Warriors (24-5) past the No. 2 Falcons (18-9).
The Warriors will play top-seeded Calaveras for the championship Saturday at 11:30 a.m. at Power Balance.
Calaveras 61 (girls), Bear River 46 in Lodi Senior point guard Nikki Gleason's game-high 17 points led the Redskins (27-3) past the No. 4 Bruins (20-9).
Jennifer Meylor topped Bear River with 15 points.