There were no moral victories for top-ranked Sacramento High School during a six-game losing streak in December.
The Dragons (6-6) lost three games in both the Nike Tournament of Champions and the West Coast Jamboree, two of the top girls tournaments on the West Coast.
With a nine-day break between the holiday tournaments and the start of Metro Conference play, Sacramento coach Michele Massari stressed fundamentals.
She used the practice time to fine-tune what she believes can be a state championship team.
Massari had the team practice without a ball for four days, just to emphasize defense: rotating, footwork, helping out.
“I know we can score and have offensive weapons,” Massari said. “But it’s not until we buy into defense, because it’s not going to matter what we do on offense. We have to let our defense turn into offense. For me, that’s huge.”
That intensity and renewed focus led to a 70-35 victory over No. 15 Florin in a Metro opener, followed by a 93-46 win over Burbank. That extended the Dragons’ league winning streak to 94 games.
“It’s good to be back home,” Dragons senior Najah Queenland said.
Sacramento also had a six-game skid in the same two tournaments in the 2011-12 season. Led by Jasmine Ware, The Bee’s Player of the Year that season, the Dragons then won 23 consecutive games before losing to Miramonte of Orinda 71-64 in the Northern California Regional semifinals.
Massari likens the teams’ senior leadership and talented underclassmen.
Seniors Chaya Durr (out this season with a knee injury), Zonyia Cormier and Ayanna Edwards started as sophomores on that 2011-12 team.
This year, sophomores Aliceah Hernandez (team-high 22 points against Burbank) and Alana Matthews (15 points against Florin) and freshman Courtsey Clark are big contributors.
“I think there will be some bumps, and we’ll face some good teams, but I think all the adversity we are facing early will benefit us later,” Massari said. “I keep looking at the schedule and thinking, ‘Who the heck did this schedule?’ Because it so ridiculously crazy.”
CBS trips St. Francis – Junior Kira McKechnie, sophomore Dominique Hart-McNeely and freshman Kalani Mark combined for eight points in overtime as No. 9 Christian Brothers beat No. 13 St. Francis 54-46 in front of an announced selllout crowd at CBS on Saturday night.
The “Holy Hoops” rivalry was as entertaining in the stands as it was on the court, with both student sections making deafening noise down the stretch in regulation. St. Francis junior guard Isabel Soloaga tied the score 46-46 with 39.4 seconds left.
McKechnie and sophomore Sammy Earley led the Falcons with 14 points, and Abby Dow and Lauren Craig paced St. Francis with 10 each.
Huskies rolling – No. 11 Sheldon opens Delta River League play tonight at Folsom riding a seven-game winning streak after beating then-No. 19 Monterey Trail 64-47 Thursday. Sophomore Quayonna Harris led Sheldon (10-5) with 15 points, and senior Alyna Kanae had 14 in the win over the Mustangs.
Four of the Huskies’ losses have come to top-10 teams – Sac High, No. 3 McClatchy, No. 8 River City and CBS.
Contact Trevor Horn at firstname.lastname@example.org.