If there is a player who emerged as a force during his senior season, it is Capital Christian's Matt Donlan.
The 6-foot-6 wing showed his considerable skills and hops he said he has a 35-inch vertical jump in scoring 22 points and grabbing six rebounds in Capital Christian's 64-50 win over Central Catholic in Friday's Sac-Joaquin Section Division V boys final at Power Balance Pavilion.
The reed-thin Donlan, the Golden Empire League MVP who averaged 17.5 points and 5.3 rebounds this season, is amazed at how far he's come in four years. He also has gone from sleeper to college prospect in a matter of a few months.
"He's 6-6 and can shoot the lights out," said Capital Christian coach Terry Battenberg. "He's got a lot of upside to him. As he fills out and keeps working on his game he's going to be a superb college player."
As one of only two seniors on the team, Donlan said it has been fun leading the Cougars with nine underclassmen to 25 wins and the school's second section boys basketball title and its first in the Sac-Joaquin Section.
"These aren't typical freshmen and sophomores," Donlan said. "And what we lack in age, we make up for in talent. We have guys that want to get out there and play hard and win. We have a tremendous drive behind us. That makes up for the inexperience."
As for his jaw-dropping jumping ability?
"It must be the kangaroo in me," Donlan said with a smile. "I was born in Melbourne, Australia."
Third-seeded Capital Christian (25-5) hosts Tulelake (24-4) tonight in the opening round of the CIF Northern California Regionals.
State mandate At Foothill, the goal has always stretched beyond winning mere section titles.
"We're not satisfied with league championships. We're not satisfied with section championships," Foothill coach Drew Hibbs said after his Mustangs beat Sierra of Manteca 74-52 in Friday's Division III section final. "We want to compete at the highest level every single year. It's not possible every year, but we push for that."
Hibbs senses the 28-3 Mustangs could play for a state crown, joining his 1994 and 2003 Division III state championship teams. It won't be easy, though, with two-time defending Division III NorCal champion Bishop O'Dowd of Oakland and San Francisco power Sacred Heart Cathedral in the same field.
"I think they're tired of hearing about (those state titles), just like the 2003 group was tired of hearing about 1994," Hibbs said of his players. "I think (these guys) want their own legacy. They're going to have one banner on the wall with their own legacy. Let's see if we can put something else up there."
On Saturday, No. 3 Foothill, riding a 23-game winning streak, hosts the winner of tonight's NorCal opener between El Cerrito and El Camino-South San Francisco.
For the defense One eye-popping stat from Antelope's 77-55 Division II section championship win over Lodi on Saturday was limiting the Flames to just one three-pointer made in 18 attempts.
Lodi, a No. 7 seed, had used it's stellar long-range shooting to upset No. 2 Sacramento and No. 3 McNair in the tournament. Antelope coach Rob Richards doesn't think his 30-1 Titans get much credit for their defense because they outscore opponents by an average of nearly 20 points (65.4 to 46.3).
"I know people look at our scores and see the point totals going up, and they say that's got to be this big run-and-gun team," Richards said. "We like to push it, but everything is generated from the intensity of our defense. That creates steals and blocks that lead to easy baskets. It's a group mentality."
This Saturday, No. 4 Antelope, winner of a state-leading 30 games, hosts tonight's College Park-Pleasant Hill at Chico winner.
CIF NORCAL BASKETBALL PLAYOFFS
Today at 7 p.m. unless noted; second round is Saturday
Castlemont-Oakland (14-9) at Pleasant Grove (23-6)
Castro Valley (21-7) at Bellarmine-San Jose (18-11)
Bethel-Vallejo (23-7) at Deer Valley-Antioch (27-8), 7:30 p.m.
Freedom-Oakley (21-7) at Piedmont Hills-San Jose (27-3)
First-round byes: De La Salle-Concord (27-2), Sheldon (26-5), McClymonds-Oakland (18-10), Jesuit (25-6)
McNair-Stockton (23-5) at Windsor (26-5)
College Park-Pleasant Hill (20-9) at Chico (25-3)
Las Lomas-Walnut Creek (19-10) at Lodi (23-6)
Shasta-Redding (18-10) at Bella Vista (25-5)
First-round byes: Mitty-San Jose (27-3), Newark Memorial (26-4), Serra-San Mateo (23-6), Antelope (30-1)
Miramonte-Orinda (19-9) at Sierra-Manteca (27-3)
Center (21-8) vs. Mission-San Francisco (23-10) at Kezar, 6 p.m.
FoothillPalo Cedro (21-8) at Campolindo-Moraga (22-6)
Lindhurst (24-7) at Enterprise-Redding (20-8)
First-round byes: Sacred Heart Cathedral-San Francisco (25-5), Bishop O'Dowd-Oakland (24-5), Foothill (28-3)
Calaveras (19-9) at Half Moon Bay (23-6)
Gridley (14-13) at Ripon (18-13)
Arcata (24-5) at Central Valley-Shasta Lake (20-8)
Riverbank (23-4) at St. Patrick/St. Vincent-Vallejo (19-11)
Marshall-San Francisco (15-14) at Cardinal Newman-Santa Rosa (26-5)
First-round byes: Salesian-Richmond (30-2), Modesto Christian (26-5), Sacred Heart Prep-Atherton (21-6)
Durham (19-10) at St. Francis-Watsonville (17-12)
Bentley-Lafayette (23-7) at Central Catholic-Modesto (24-6)
Sacramento Waldorf (25-4) at Liberty Chr.-Redding (25-1)
Tulelake (24-4) at Capital Christian (25-5)
Fall River-McArthur (23-5) at Branson-Ross (24-9)
Ripon Christian (23-6) vs. San Francisco University (20-10) at Kezar, 7:30 p.m.
First-round byes: St. Joseph-Alameda (26-4), Pinewood-Los Altos Hills (25-2)
Today at 7 p.m., unless noted; second round is Saturday
Pleasant Grove (21-9) at Palo Alto (19-5)
Heritage-Brentwood (24-5) at Oakland Tech (18-11)
Washington-San Francisco (16-15) at Oak Ridge (23-8)
Castlemont-Oakland (16-11) at Kennedy (23-8)
Armijo (23-7) at Deer Valley-Antioch (21-8), 6 p.m.
Mission San Jose (27-3) at Gunn (19-6)
First-round byes: Berkeley (26-2), Lowell-San Francisco (25-4)
Chico (17-5) at Dougherty Valley-San Ramon (20-9)
Florin (24-5) at Casa Grande-Petaluma (30-2)
River City (27-3) at Pleasant Valley-Chico (35-3)
Alameda (22-7) at McNair-Stockton (27-4)
First-round byes: St. Mary's-Stockton (28-3), Carondelet-Concord (26-3), Mitty-San Jose (24-5), St. Ignatius-San Francisco (25-5)
Christian Brothers (23-7) at Paradise (17-11)
Acalanes-Lafayette (15-13) at Modesto Christian (25-6)
Vanden-Fairfield (22-8) at Miramonte-Orinda (28-1)
Oroville (13-15) at San Marin-Novato (24-6)
First-round byes: Bishop O'Dowd-Oakland (26-3), Sacramento (25-6), Sacred Heart-San Francisco (15-14), Terra Nova-Pacifica (23-6)
Anderson (20-9) at West Campus (23-6)
Colfax (18-9) at McKinleyville (22-7)
Marin Catholic-Kentfield (22-8) at Mercy-San Francisco (26-3)
Bear River (20-9) at West Valley-Cottonwood (21-6)
First-round byes: Salesian-Richmond (28-4), St. Mary's-Albany (24-7), Calaveras (28-3), Soquel (25-4)
Portola (25-5) at International-San Francisco (21-10)
San Domenico-San Anselmo (22-7) at Pinewood-Los Altos Hills (18-12)
Capital Christian (17-12) at Hamilton (29-0)
Colusa (20-7) at St. Joseph Notre Dame-Alameda (20-10)
Durham (11-16) vs. Turlock Christian (26-4) at Calvary Christian
San Francisco University (26-5) at Ripon Christian (21-5)
First-round byes: Brookside Christian-Stockton (26-4), Eastside Prep-Palo Alto (15-13)