Bryce Pressley is about as kind and considerate a young man as you'll meet in the regional high school sporting scene.
Still, Jesuit High School coach Greg Harcos pleads for the 6-foot-3 senior guard to turn surly in high tops. Play with fury, in other words.
Message received, coach.
Pressley nearly recorded a unique triple double Wednesday night at Power Balance Pavilion, scoring 22 points to go with nine rebounds and nine blocked shots, and he had a lot of help to lift No. 2-seeded Jesuit over Delta River League rival and No. 6 Pleasant Grove 64-62 in a Sac-Joaquin Section Division I semifinal.
Pressley hears the same theme from his father, former Kings first-round pick Harold Pressley, who ran on this same floor a generation ago.
"(Bryce has) gotten nasty the second half of the season," Harcos said. "The way he's going to the basket, the way he's guarding the other team's best player. He's got a chip on his shoulder. He's woken up, unleashed."
Parker Uu has played at a steady-to-spectacular pace all season, though Harcos also challenges the senior guard to be even better, to strive for more. Uu had 18 points and eight rebounds.
Jesuit has star power in Pressley and Uu, both fine students and intriguing recruits, and a terrific support crew that includes Akachi Okugo, Lake Lutes, Brian Glodowski, Kurt Parker, Tom Sperbeck and J.T. Frank. It's a senior-dominated group that faces a junior-dominated crew in Sheldon on Saturday in a DRL section-title rematch.
Down the stretch against Pleasant Grove, Sperbeck, Okuogo, Uu and Pressley had baskets. A Colfax Nordquist free throw and Cody Demps jumper as time expired kept Pleasant Grove in it until the end, per the norm when the DRL heavyweights meet.
Malik Thames scored 19 for Pleasant Grove, Nordquist 17, Matt Hayes 11 and Demps 10. The Eagles still advance to the NorCal tournament next week for the first time.
"I know this is my senior year, and this is our last shot at a state title run there's no next year," Pressley said. "Coach has told me to be aggressive, to be me, do whatever I can to help us."
No. 1 Sheldon 81, No. 5 Bethel 55 Dakarai Allen had 22 points and 11 rebounds, D'Erryl Williams had 18 and eight, Armani Hampton contributed 15 and four and Ryan Manning eight and 11 for the Huskies, who used a closing 21-4 run to close out the Jaguars of Vallejo.
Allen played most of the game with gauze stuffed up his nose after taking an elbow to the face that made for a bloody mess. But it hardly slowed down the 6-6 DRL Player of the Year, who has an array of skills.
Sheldon seeks a D-I three-peat and the program's fourth banner since 2007.
"We know if we play good defense and get to the rim, we'll be OK," Huskies coach Joey Rollings said. "It'll be a great game."
No. 1 Antelope 55, No. 4 Bella Vista 49 In an entertaining semifinal, the Titans held off the Broncos to win their 27th consecutive game.
Isaiah Ellis powered inside for 18 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks, and Jarvis Watkins scored 10 for Antelope, backed by its Red Zone student cheering section that matched chants and wits with Bella Vista's.
The Titans will face Lodi, which beat McNair 86-78 Wednesday night, in Saturday's final.
What has most impressed Antelope coach Rob Richards is how far his team has grown in a year from playoff newcomers to sudden veterans.
"The butterflies weren't there this time, and we're on a mission," he said. "Bella Vista, they didn't have any quit."
Junior guard Ahmad Smith made five three-pointers and scored 27 for Bella Vista. Senior standout forward K.J. Logue had just six points in warding off waves of Titans.