Friday night’s high school basketball matchup between No. 1 Capital Christian and No. 3 Sacramento in the St. Hope Elite Classic semifinals at Sac High produced all the excitement and highlight-reel plays expected of a budding rivalry with loads of talented players.
D.J. Wilson scored 20 points, UC Iroegbu 15 and Nifae Lealao 14, and Tyler Jennings, Justice Mosely and Marcelas Perry provided heady play as Capital Christian turned a one-point halftime deficit into a 79-52 rout.
Capital Christian will play state No. 5 Centennial of Corona in Saturday’s 7:45 p.m. championship game, the last of six games to be played at Sac High on the last day of the five-day, 12-team tournament. Centennial defeated West Ranch of Valencia 91-66 in Friday’s other semifinal.
The game between Capital Christian (9-0), a small private school, and Sacramento (4-2), a public charter school, was more than a matchup of area basketball powers. The players know each other well. Many have played on the Yellowjackets, a Sacramento-based AAU program.
Capital Christian coach Devon Jones has coached several of Sacramento’s players, including star sophomores Solomon Young and Christian Terrell.
Terrell’s mother, Erika, is in the middle of it all. She’s the director of operations for the Yellowjackets and is helping Sac High coach Derek Swafford put on the St. Hope tournament.
In all, 14 Yellowjackets played Friday, eight for Capital Christian and six for Sacramento.
“It’s a win-win for me because I see our boys on both sides of the bench,” Erika Terrell said. “Both teams are well coached. And I’m proud either way the outcome goes.”
The teams have played each other the past two years in the season-opening foundation game exhibition.
But with the Cougars’ rise to prominence and Swafford’s friendship with former Capital Christian coach Phil Oates, he had to have Capital Christian in the tournament.
Swafford’s Dragons, who feature nine sophomores and a freshman on their 13-player roster, are where senior-dominated Capital Christian was two years ago, when the Cougars won their first of two Sac-Joaquin Section Division V titles largely with underclassmen.
“Devon has taken to me, and I’ve taken to him,” Swafford said. “He understands what competition is without it being the only thing. We want that rivalry and really, really enjoy it.”
“Johann carried us offensively tonight, as he has carried us all season,” said Pleasant Grove coach John DePonte. Tate had 28 points the night before in Pleasant Grove’s 88-66 loss to Centennial.
CAPITAL CHRISTIAN 79, SACRAMENTO 52
CC–Iroegbu 15, Wilson 20, Hope 2, Perry 9, Mosely 10, Jennings 4, Ware 3, Aibuedefe 2, Lealao 14. S–Matthews 7, Finch 6, Gonzales 2, Henderson 6, Young 18, Terrell 7, Durr 4, Williams 4.
FOOTHILL-PALO CEDRO 80, PLEASANT GROVE 76
PG–Tate 38, Lindsey 11, Jackson 1, Chriss 18, Mayberry 4, Arrivas 2, Fitzgerald 2. F–Cloney 14, Smith 13 Schabarum 18, Fry 21, Trancale 4, Terras 2, Hamilton 8.
KENNEDY 70, EISENHOWER-RIALTO 65
E–Shelton 4, Arrington 4, Mark. Harris 3, Kearney 6, Clarendon 17, Posey 14, Mark. Harris 15, Thompson 2. K–Taira 8, Nakatomi 30, Bales 6, Hutt 2, Uda 14, Healow 1, Coner 1, Alexander 3, Okamoto 5.