Normally, this is a fight to the finish, a baseline-to-baseline thrill show pitting regional high school basketball powerhouses.
That script didn’t play out Friday night.
Woodcreek, ranked second by The Sacramento Bee, relied on defense, balanced scoring, experience and depth to overwhelm No. 3 Folsom 69-34 in a Sierra Foothill League contest in Folsom.
The Timberwolves are anchored by the area’s top recruit and Northern California’s No. 1 prospect in Jordan Brown, but this is hardly a one-man show.
Brown, a 6-foot-11 junior with the sort of skills and motor that have college recruiters clamoring for him, overcame first-half foul trouble to score 22 points. He yanked down rebounds, ran the floor, dished and finished in dazzling a full house. Even Folsom’s raucous student section appreciated Brown.
Brown’s backcourt mates were similarly terrific. Jackson Hughes had 17 points and Ty Roberts scored 15.
“We get after it on ‘D,’ ” Woodcreek coach Paul Hayes said. “Our three captains, Jordan, Ty and Jackson, they get us into a defensive intensity the moment we hit the practice floor and it carries into games. Everyone has to raise their game or they’re left behind.”
Woodcreek (18-2, 5-0) won its first 12 games before falling to national powerhouse and defending CIF State Open Division champion Chino Hills 108-93 in the Rancho Mirage Holiday Invitational, a respectable showing considering Chino Hills often drills opponents by 50.
The other loss came in the same event, 66-57 to Harvard-Westlake, another formidable program. But the trip went beyond playing top-tier competition. Woodcreek players bonded. They ate together, hung out together, dreamed of championships together.
“This group really likes each one another,” Hayes said. “And they’re well liked on campus by everyone.”
Folsom players carry a similar stature on campus. The Bulldogs (15-5, 3-2) have been a basketball power off and on for decades, including winning the CIF State Division III championship in 1985 under coach Stan Harms, long since retired but still a Folsom fan.
Folsom has been coached for years now by Mike Wall, whose teams have won Sac-Joaquin Section titles and have represented the region well in the prestigious NorCal Open tournament the previous two seasons.
The Bulldogs still compete, a trademark of any Wall-coached team, but they no longer have two-time Bee Player of the Year Jordan Ford, the guard now playing on scholarship at nationally ranked Saint Mary’s in Moraga.
And Folsom has been without starting guard Jayce McCain, out with a virus in a season defined by Wall as “really weird” in terms of assorted ailments and injuries.
But the Bulldogs have Mason Forbes, a fast-rising recruit. The 6-8 junior center scored 12 points on an array of post moves. Guard Martis Johnson had 11 for Folsom.
No. 6 Folsom 70, No. 15 Woodcreek 36 in Folsom – McKenzie Forbes is rounding back into game form after missing all but three games with a bad ankle, and she looked the part of floor leader with two one-handed bounce passes – with spin – in leading the Bulldogs easily past the Timberwolves in SFL play.
Forbes, a dominating junior guard with versatility and unique game instincts, had 18 points. She is the sister of Mason Forbes. Hanna Beckman and Jessie Armstrong scored 14 each for Folsom, and Sydney Larocca had 10.
Folsom (17-3, 3-2) lost SFL games to No. 4 Oak Ridge 53-33 and to No. 9 Del Oro 39-36 earlier this month while Forbes was sidelined.
Folsom plays at Oak Ridge next Friday.