At long last, a home game. And what a homecoming.
Playing in front of a festive, full crowd that included the band, a halftime performance by the Sheldon High School universal rhythm dance crew and a rooting section that featured shirtless seniors with body paint, The Bee's top-ranked boys basketball team entertained in every facet after a whirlwind holiday tour.
Sheldon, fresh off national events in Las Vegas, San Diego and New Orleans, didn't look like a jet lagged team. The Huskies raced past and jumped over rival and No. 17 Jesuit 69-42 in a Delta River League game Friday night.
Last season, Sheldon beat Jesuit four times. The Huskies won their two DRL games against the Marauders, and then beat them to three-peat as Sac-Joaquin Section Division I champs and prevailed against them in the Northern California D-I final.
Sheldon's core returned, headed by San Diego State-bound seniors Dakarai Allen and D'Erryl Williams and forward Ryan Manning. The Huskies looked like a team ranked No. 5 in the state by Cal-Hi Sports and NorCal ranked No. 3 by MaxPreps. They took apart a rebuilding, talented Marauders team that competes but can't quite match the Huskies.
"They're really good," Jesuit coach Greg Harcos said before the game.
Sheldon led 62-24 before the reserves played the entire fourth quarter. The Huskies (11-4, 2-0) ran the floor, shared the ball on alley-oop dunks, hustled on defense and used depth to keep a full step ahead of the Marauders (9-9, 1-1). Sheldon, which last played at home Dec. 8, made 8 of 15 first-half threes.
Darin Johnson, a 6-4 forward, led Sheldon with 17 points. Manning had 14 points and six rebounds. Allen had 13 points, five steals and three blocked shots. Williams had seven points and six rebounds, and teammate Antonio Lewis had 10 points and five rebounds.
"We shot the ball well, shared the ball, and we're not at our peak," Sheldon coach Joey Rollings said.
Williams, the steady point guard, said a home atmosphere adds to the total package. Sheldon players hope for a similar crowd today at 6 p.m. when state No. 9 Bullard of Fresno (13-1) visits.
"Always love the band here the best band in the land," Williams said. "We have great atmosphere here ."
As for the holiday tour, Rollings and Williams agreed the Huskies got what they wanted: experience against top-tier teams, a chance to bond away from home, improvement and no injuries.
For all of Sheldon's star power, the efforts of the unsung performers also impress Rollings and his staff. Lewis is a 6-foot-1 senior forward who scraps for loose balls and loves to rebound.
Sheldon guards James Fox, Jordan Bradley and Devin Greene combined for eight points and a lot of ball handling.
"I'm old school get after it, get the rebounds, play hard defense, hit open shots," Lewis said. "It's my role."