It took the efforts of the youngest team in The Bee’s rankings to save the day.
After top-ranked Capital Christian lost to Bishop O’Dowd of Oakland 86-60 and No. 2 Jesuit suffered a 60-50 setback to Newark Memorial at the Martin Luther King Jr. Classic at Cal, No. 3 Sacramento capped Monday’s event with a 68-61 victory over Salesian of Richmond.
With five sophomores starting, the Dragons trailed 52-39 late in the third quarter before rallying to win the most exciting game of the six played. Guard Tre Finch had 24 points, 6-foot-7 center Solomon Young finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds, and wing Christian Terrell overcame a slow night with a steal and a dunk for a 60-54 lead with 2:27 to play.
“We want these guys to be mentally tough because we know we’re young,” veteran Dragons coach Derek Swafford said. “We’re going to make young mistakes, but we’re growing. We can be really good.
“Our motto and thinking is that we belong on this sort of stage, and we do.”
Sacramento has two losses to Capital Christian and one to El Cerrito (18-1).
Eagles moment – It’s been a trying season for El Camino and coach Tony Phulps, beyond the 6-9 start.
The Eagles are still coping with the sudden death last month of popular English teacher and assistant coach Brandon Dingman, 36. An El Camino graduate, Dingman collapsed from heart failure while playing a pickup game with friends. He leaves behind his wife, Carrie, and two children.
El Camino enjoyed its most spirited victory last week, beating rival and previous No. 13 Rio Americano 53-38 behind guard Sam Hudson, who had 22 points. Guard Da’Jon Twist is averaging 16.3 points for the Eagles.
Rankings upheaval – Sheldon, Granite Bay and Whitney dropped out of The Bee’s rankings.
Sheldon (5-11) has lost four consecutive games and is 0-2 in the Delta River League – losing to No. 2 Jesuit 75-51 and No. 4 Folsom 79-38 – as it continues to make the transition with interim coach Mike Bradley, taking over for the suspended Joey Rollings.
With a starting lineup of sophomores and freshmen, Sheldon on Friday plays newly ranked No. 14 Oak Ridge, which has recent wins over No. 18 Rio Americano (61-51) and No. 15 Pleasant Grove (52-49).
New No. 19 Christian Brothers is 2-0 in the Capital Valley Conference after beating Oakmont 64-48 and Casa Roble 61-37. CBS plays No. 9 Del Campo on Friday.
Lincoln debuts this season at No. 20 after opening Pioneer Valley League play with a 48-41 victory over Colfax. Lincoln lost to CBS 55-54 on Jan. 8.
Showdowns – Key games tonight include No. 10 Grant at No. 11 Monterey Trail, which went winless in the Delta Valley Conference last season and now targets a league title. Sacramento hosts No. 12 Kennedy in the Metropolitan Conference. Friday, first place in the Sierra Foothill League is on the line when No. 6 Del Oro hosts No. 8 Woodcreek. Both schools’ rooting sections are among the best in Northern California.
Sheldon event – The adidas Challenge at Sheldon on Saturday features eight games, starting with two girls contests: No. 2 McClatchy vs. Antelope at 10 a.m. and No. 14 Sheldon against Deer Valley of Antioch at 11:30 a.m.
The boys games: Center vs. Berkeley, 1 p.m.; Grant vs. Vanden, 2:30 p.m.; Deer Valley vs. Edison, 4:15 p.m.; No. 15 Pleasant Grove vs. Clovis North, 5:45 p.m.; No. 7 Burbank vs. College Park, 7:15 p.m; and Sheldon vs. Freedom of Oakley, 8:45 p.m.
Follow Joe Davidson on Twitter @SacBee_JoeD.