José Luis Villegas jvillegas@sacbee.com Capital Christian's Tyler Jennings reacts after his free throw with under a second to play gives his team a one-point lead and an eventual victory.

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Capital Christian boys repeat as D-V champs; girls fall to Brookside Christian

Published: Saturday, Mar. 2, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014 - 11:26 pm

Both teams endured ailments, including bouts of the flu, and other forms of adversity in this combined season of great promise.

The feel-good tonic was winning and supporting each other.

Friday night at Sleep Train Arena, the postgame mood was collectively upbeat for Capital Christian High School, the big picture crystal clear. This is a game, not the end of the world, nor is it the biggest achievement of their young lives.

The girls fell to Brookside Christian 72-28 in their first trip to the NBA arena, wearing a collective look of shock but thrilled for the opportunity.

Some two hours later, the Capital Christian boys were beaming after beating Brookside Christian 40-39 to repeat as Division V champions.

Two teams, one school and a continued shared goal of extending basketball seasons into March. The boys expect to earn a high D-V seed when the Northern California Regional field is announced Sunday.

The girls also will advance, albeit as a lower seed on the road. Nicole Colbert led the Cougars (20-10) with seven points and seven rebounds. Tiara Tucker scored 24 points for Brookside (26-4), which repeated as D-V champions.

"We're really happy to just get here, and we fought to the end," said Suzanne Baker, in her 17th season coaching the Capital Christian girls. "This is new for us. I'm proud of how the girls played. We've overcome so much – serious injuries, the flu. It's a big stage here. Our guys' team is used to it."

The boys program lost five straight D-V section finals to Modesto Christian last decade but now have its second blue banner in as many seasons.

First-year Capital coach Devon Jones said it's easy to forget these are still teenagers trying to make contested shots in such a big setting, even free throws, as junior guard Tyler Jennings can attest.

Moments after missing two free throws, the junior calmly made one with .07 left to account for his team's margin of victory. He intentionally missed the second to help run out the clock.

Following a timeout, Brookside (27-2) was short on a three-quarter-court heave at the horn, and so went the Stockton school's 16-game winning streak.

Jennings' free-throw backdrop was a quiet, calm school rooting section that erupted on his make – and when the game was over. "I was nervous," Jennings confessed. "I knew I couldn't let my team down."

Capital Christian (24-4) prevailed despite going cold in the second half and not having explosive 6-foot-8 junior wing D.J. Wilson, who was out after suffering a back injury Thursday.

Guard Uchenna Iroegbu and forward Trey Belton each scored nine points. Belton had 11 rebounds and keyed a defense that stalled the Knights, who lead all D-V teams in scoring at 86 points a game. Guard Justice Shelton-Mosley scored eight points and post Nifae Lealao seven to go with six rebounds.

Lealao, who has attracted national football recruiting interest, is a free-spirited scholar into fashion and design. He said his team also understands it can share a message of unity in the form of footwear. Each of the Cougars boys wore pink shoes, "Because we all know someone who has cancer," Lealao said.

The Cougars seek the school's first state title in any sport.

"We've been through everything – flu, broken bones, torn ACLs, bad backs – and we keep with it," Jones said. "We've gone through all of that and I like our chances. These guys want more. They have great character."

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