A humbling loss and a dramatic victory has galvanized a young Pleasant Grove High School basketball team.
A year after reaching the CIF State Division I championship game with a senior-heavy team, the Eagles are back in the playoff hunt out of the rugged Delta River League. No. 14 Pleasant Grove (10-11) has a 2-3 league record, two games behind second-place No. 3 Jesuit, which beat the Eagles 59-57 on Jan. 24, and three behind No. 2 Folsom.
The Eagles are tied for third in league with previously ranked Oak Ridge, which beat the Eagles 52-49 on Jan. 15. The Trojans visit Pleasant Grove tonight.
The Oak Ridge loss was a turning point for us, Eagles coach John DePonte said. We told the players after that game if we dont play with heart and desire and play for each other, well get the same results.
Last Friday, Pleasant Grove celebrated a 66-63 overtime win against rival Sheldon. With 3.3 seconds remaining in regulation, James Fox fired an inbound pass from the far baseline to 6-foot-9 center Marquese Chriss, who was standing near the top of the key. Well covered, Chriss quickly passed to T.J. Lindsey, whose bucket as time expired tied the score and sent the Eagles bench into hysterics. The Eagles rushed the court, and then quickly got back to order. Chriss, the lone returning starter from last season, scored 29 points. Johann Tate had 18 and Lindsey 11.
The pass to Marquese felt like it was in the air a good 20 minutes, DePonte said. Then we had overtime. It was a nice moment. Were learning to play like champions, learning to win, learning to share the ball, and how to play with effort and heart. Its my hope we continue to grow and squeak out some more league wins and peak going into the playoffs.
More dramatics No. 7 Del Campo beat rival Casa Roble 58-56 last Friday on a buzzer beater, prompting jubilant students to rush the court.
Preston Semkiw stole a pass with seven seconds remaining and raced three-quarters of the court for a layup, but missed. Vasilije Saraba followed with a missed tip back. Andrew Jenkins grabbed the loose ball and hit a short fadeaway off the glass as time ran out. Saraba, a 6-6 shooter, is one of the areas top players, averaging 21.3 points and 7.7 rebounds for 12th-year coach Dave Nobis, who recently won his 200th game.
Sac High star out No. 4 Sacramento suffered a double setback Saturday night. Ninety minutes before taking the floor against powerhouse Bishop ODowd of Oakland, the Dragons learned standout sophomore center Solomon Young would be lost for the season with a torn MCL in his left knee.
Its a crushing loss for the youngest team in The Bees Top 20. The 6-7 Young is regarded as one of the top defensive players in the section. He averages 18.2 points and 8.8 rebounds, both team highs. Without Young, Sacramento lost 103-66 to ODowd, which was led by 6-10 center Ivan Rabb a junior national recruit who went for 24 points with six dunks and 14 rebounds through three quarters.
I could tell Solomon wasnt right because he wasnt jumping well in his last two games, Sacramento coach Derek Swafford said. Well have two more seasons with him, and hell be back. This is a rallying point for our team. Life goes on. This is a growing-up, learning curve for our team, and well adjust and compete like we always do.
THE BEE'S TOP 20
Records through Monday
|1. Capital Christian||19-3||1|
|5. Cosumnes Oaks*||21-1||5|
|6. Del Oro||22-1||6|
|7. Del Campo||19-3||7|
|13. Monterey Trail||16-6||10|
|14. Pleasant Grove||10-11||15|
|16. Christian Brothers||14-8||18|
|20. Rio Americano||13-9|||
* Forfeited 16 games
Follow Joe Davidson on Twitter @SacBee_JoeD