Fifty years later, and they’re still playing a spirited brand of championship basketball.
After the 1963-64 Folsom High School basketball team was recognized at the half of Friday night’s Delta River League showdown between Jesuit and the host Bulldogs – the current edition – the old timers were treated to a gripping second half of action.
Jordan Ford’s baseline jumper with 1:07 left inched The Bee-ranked No. 4 Bulldogs ahead, and they held on for dear life to register a 58-55 overtime victory over the No. 2 Marauders in front of a packed house with the backdrop of loud and proud rooting sections.
So caps the first-half of DRL play, and it promises to be just as frenetic the rest of the way as both clubs eye the league and Sac-Joaquin Section titles, Jesuit in Division I and Folsom in D-II.
Folsom coach Mike Wall doesn’t dare look ahead – that’s a coaching curse – but he can’t help but see the similarities between this team and his section title clubs of 2008 and ’09, which were calm and collected. Those teams were led by an all-time program great in guard Tony Johnson. And Folsom now is led by a virtual clone of Johnson in Ford, a sophomore who plays beyond his years and effortlessly makes plays.
Ford had four points at the half as Jesuit defended him superbly, but he had his moments late. He had a 3-point bucket for Folsom’s first lead at 46-44 with 2:41 to go. He then iced the game with on-ball defense near midcourt with 21 seconds to go as Jesuit was setting up a shot, down 56-55. The ball wound up out of bounds. Jesuit coaches and players were certain the ball was knocked out by Ford, who accounted for the final points with two free throws with two seconds remaining as Jesuit fouled to stop the ball.
Lake Lutes’ long 3-pointer just missed at the buzzer and the Marauders (20-2) fell to a section team for the first time this season. Folsom is also 20-2.
“Jesut came out and hit us with a haymaker with that 8-0 run to open the game, but we stuck with the program and didn’t get rattled,” Wall said. “There’s a certain calmness and composure with this team. It’s a lot like the Tony Johnson teams, where the leader is unflappable, and that’s Jordan.”
Said Ford: “It was a great game. We’re the toughest team in the section, I think, with how we keep in games.”
If Ford is the star power then Josiah Deguara is the workman. The junior guard had 21 points, muscling inside for buckets or hitting jumpers. Folsom center Colin Russell had 10 points, and the Bulldogs received gritty efforts from Jared Wall, Gavin Smith, Lukas Hendricks and Alec Andrews.
Nick Hilton led Jesuit with 18 points and Isaiah Bailey had 15, though Bailey fouled out late in regulation.
“Our guys played their butts off,” Jesuit coach Greg Harcos said. “Both teams really wanted it bad.”
Follow Joe Davidson on Twitter @SacBee_JoeD.