Mayor Kevin Johnson stopped by Del Paso Heights to catch a CIF Northern California Regional Division II basketball game Saturday night, and a flashback zipped before his eyes.
Late in the third quarter, De'Von Boyd of fifth-seeded Sacramento High School had two coast-to-coast buckets in a blur. He then hit a three-pointer to push his Dragons comfortably ahead in triggering a 77-52 rout of No. 4 Grant in a second-round contest that wasn't nearly as close as the last meeting between these decades-old rivals.
Johnson led the state in scoring for Sac High in 1983 as an impossible-to-defend guard. He watched his alma mater decked in a purple Dragons warm-up and accepted a signed portrait of both teams at halftime. He waved to the crowd, shook hands like a politician and worked back into a packed setting that produced ringing ears from dueling drum-line bands.
The best guard in purple on this night was the slender teenager with jersey No. 5. A senior guard headed to Chaminade on scholarship, Boyd scored 19 points as Sacramento exacted sweet revenge.
Ten days earlier at Sleep Train Arena, Grant toppled the top-seed Dragons 72-69 in a Sac-Joaquin Section D-II semifinal.
As fortune would have it, the teams met again, only Sacramento (25-7) had a lot more in the tank in the second half. Grant (23-9) was clearly tired, slow to the ball and just short on shots.
"It's hard to play 30 games in a high school season because you all of a sudden hit a wall, and that's what happened to Grant," Sacramento coach Derek Swafford said.
Senior guard De'Sean Parsons, as he has done throughout the Pacers' remarkable season, led them with 21 points.
Devin Young, a tireless 6-foot-7 freshman post for Sacramento, had 20 points, 14 rebounds and five blocked shots.
It was Young's defensive energy, forward James Hadnot's nine points and nine rebounds and the surge of Boyd that thrust the Dragons into Tuesday's semifinal at top-seeded Dublin, a team that beat Sacramento 74-61 on Dec. 6. Boyd didn't play in that game. He was out with a torn knee ligament, an injury he first feared would sideline him for the season.
Boyd returned late in the regular season and has seemingly improved by the week. Saturday was his most prolific outing since his return.
"De'Von's got such great mental toughness, such heart and a lot of pride," Swafford said. "And he's still not in tip-top shape."
Said Boyd, "I've still got a few kinks to work out. Tonight, I just felt it. I want to do anything I can to help this team."
As for the Mayor on location, Boyd offered a grin.
"I've been told that my game relates to his, and that's a great compliment."
Swafford said the only downer was the long look of his good friend Deonard Wilson, who in three seasons has coached Grant back among the section elite.
Grant last reached the NorCals in 1999, winning the NorCal D-II title under coach Tony Lowden.
Sacramento has become a NorCal regular in recent seasons under Swafford, whose team seeks its second NorCal title.
"I'm happy for Deonard, and happy for any coach who sticks it out with high school coaching and puts the time in, because it's not easy," Swafford said.