Neither of them is especially tall, but in high school basketball, height doesn’t have to be a deal breaker.
Each of the three lead guards for the Sheldon Huskies possesses a unique skill set, including ball handling, shooting, passing, defending and desire. Isaiah Brooks, Elishja Duplechan and Devin Greene are in that 5-foot-9 to 6-foot range, all business and effort, and combined, they make a formidable trio. In what amounts to a three point-guard set, Huskies coach Joey Rollings has challenged his group to keep on the accelerator until there are no games left.
Sheldon beat visiting Oak Ridge 63-47 on Friday night in a Sac-Joaquin Section Division I quarterfinal, meaning the guard show now ventures into Sleep Train Arena on Wednesday on a racetrack of a big floor. The Huskies’ semifinal opponent, Woodcreek, is led by its own standout guard in Noah Blackwell.
Brooks scored 19 points with six rebounds, Duplechan had 11 points and six rebounds, and Greene produced nine points and four assists to set the tempo from the start against an Oak Ridge team fresh off throttling a sound Bella Vista bunch 64-40. The Sheldon guards also proved to be defensive pests, pressuring the ball, diving for loose balls and contesting shots.
And they made Oak Ridge star guard Tyus Millhollin work for everything. Though the junior had some moments of stellar play – jumpers, runners, ball handling – he was outnumbered.
“They’re dynamic guards, really, really good,” Millhollin said after scoring 17. “That team has the potential to win (the title).”
A section championship would be the program’s fifth in six seasons and sixth since 2007. Rollings seeks his fifth title with the Elk Grove Unified School District program. His boys teams won four in a row from 2010-13 and he won it with the girls in 2006. Sheldon players are focused on Woodcreek, however, a championship program in its own right.
Rollings fully expected his young team without a senior starter to be back in the title race, despite failing to make the playoffs last season when the Huskies went 8-18.
“We knew we had a good group, that we could play well and get back to Sleep Train,” said Rollings, whose club is 20-6. “Our guards are great. We can move the ball, attack, penetrate and kick, make free throws. And these kids give us 100 percent effort, all the time.”
That’s every man on the Sheldon roster. Practices are intense and spirited, and it carries into the games. Matt Manning had 13 points and Blake Mason had eight inside points, mostly from passes from the guards. Drew Cobb and Anthony Cook provided typical depth and energy.
“They have the full package,” said Oak Ridge coach Bobby Edwards, whose team finished 18-10.
Sheldon guards raced in for buckets off outlet passes and then salted the game away from the line, making 9 of 10 free throws down the stretch.
“Neither one of us cares who is scoring because we all look for each other,” Brooks said. “Doesn’t matter who has the ball because we’re all making plays.”
Sheldon beat Pleasant Grove to win the Delta League championship. Pleasant Grove is 2-0 in the playoffs, like Sheldon, and now plays Folsom. Folsom and Woodcreek are members of the Sierra Foothill League.