If you are going to get your basketball program's signature win, it might as well come against De La Salle of Concord, one of the most venerated boys basketball programs in Northern California.
That's what No. 2-seeded Pleasant Grove did Tuesday night on its home court in thumping the No. 6 Spartans 68-51 in the CIF Northern California Regional Division I semifinals.
"That was a big win for our program," said Pleasant Grove senior point guard Malik Thames, who had 31 points and showed amazing poise and court leadership. "De La Salle is a great program. They have a great tradition and great fans. We just wanted to show everybody that we deserved the No. 2 seed."
The victory set up what Thames predicts will be a "high-energy" D-I championship final Saturday at Sleep Train Arena between the Eagles and top-seeded Deer Valley of Antioch, a 54-52 winner over Bellarmine of San Jose.
Pleasant Grove (26-6) showed plenty of energy and resourcefulness in rolling a shellshocked De La Salle squad (26-5), which for the second year in a row was eliminated in the semifinals by a Delta River League team. Last year, Jesuit beat the Spartans 44-41 in Concord.
Pleasant Grove a quarterfinal loser at De La Salle last season was making its first NorCal semifinal appearance ever against a school that has been to the NorCal Regional championship game 11 times, winning five titles.
But it was cool, calm and collected Pleasant Grove that looked like the poised, veteran team.
Among the highlights:
The Eagles shot 52 percent from the field, and Thames was 10 for 13, including three three-pointers. He also was 8 for 9 from the foul line. Cole Nordquist added 14 points, and Matthew Hayes had 13.
The defensively renowned Spartans had been holding opponents to an average of 37 points. Pleasant Grove led 37-17 at halftime.
Hayes capped the first and second quarters with long-distance buzzer-beating three-pointers, Thames did the same at the end of the third quarter, and defensive whiz James Watson put an exclamation point on the victory with a monster block with 5.8 seconds left.
Dublin 81, Sacramento 76 in Dublin The Dragons led 55-52 entering the fourth quarter but couldn't hold on against the top-seeded Gaels (26-6) in Division II. Aaron Cameron scored 19 points, and freshman center Devin Young had 14 points and eight rebounds for Sacramento (26-7).
Capital Christian 66, University-San Francisco 50 at Capital Christian Nifae Lealao had 21 points and Trey Belton 15 to lead the Cougars (26-4) past the Red Devils (25-9) and into Saturday's Division V title game at American Canyon High School against St. Joseph Notre Dame of Alameda, a 44-41 winner over Branson of Ross.
Oak Ridge 51, Heritage 50 in Brentwood Ali Bettencourt had 23 points, and Haley Anderson added 13 as the No. 10 Trojans (28-4) avenged a regular-season loss to the No. 3 Patriots (26-6) and advanced to Saturday's D-I final at Sleep Train against defending champion Berkeley, a 54-46 winner over Gunn of Palo Alto.
Piedmont 31, Bradshaw Christian 27 at Bradshaw Christian The No. 3 Highlanders (22-9) outscored the No. 2 Pride (28-3) 10-6 in the fourth quarter to win the D-IV matchup.
Call The Bee's Bill Paterson, (916) 326-5506.