The basketball program at Johnson High School has endured some lean times in recent years.
The Warriors boys were 3-24 in 2013-14. They won five games in 2010-11 and seven in 2011-12. Last year, they were 10-17. Coaches came and went, and there were few wins in a Metropolitan League that includes powers Sacramento, Kennedy and Burbank.
Now there’s hope.
Under first-year coach Faraji Edwards, Johnson is 4-1. The Warriors have experience, headed by three-year starting guard Jayden Cosey. They have a talented brother combination in Jacob and Michael Henry, first cousins of Xavier Henry, who has bounced around the NBA. They have a top talent in 6-foot-4 Bryce O’Neil, “who has one of the prettiest jump shots you’ve ever seen,” Edwards said. And Johnson’s top shooter and scorer is Xavier Osby (17.6 points per game), whose father, Russell Osby, was a standout guard for Kennedy’s successful teams in early 1990s.
“We’re getting better, working hard,” Edwards said.
Johnson won championships in the late 1960s – led by Bee All-Metro stars Rick DiRegelo, Edison Hicks and Darnell Hillman – and in 1992 with All-Metro standouts Damond Edwards and Lloyd Hillman, Darnell’s son.
Twin towers – Folsom’s sophomore twins, Mason and McKenzie Forbes, compared basketball championship hardware Saturday.
Mason helped the top-ranked Bulldogs (5-0) win the Folsom-Vista Classic title with his inside play and rebounding. Folsom beat Sacramento Country Day 76-35 in the championship game, and Jordan Ford was the MVP for the third consecutive season.
At about the same time in West Sacramento, forward McKenzie Forbes led the girls team (6-1) past Sacramento 56-53 for the River City Rumble on the River title.
Hot Halsey – Liberty Ranch senior Isaiah Halsey led the Hawks to the Buck Bailey Tournament basketball championship in Woodland.
The 5-foot-10 guard had 28 points, 12 rebounds and two assists in a 68-63 win over Napa, then 31, six and three in an 87-45 win over Delta. In the title game, he had 34, eight and eight in a 67-61 victory over Highlands.
Halsey set a school record with 93 points in a three-game tournament, topping 91 last season by graduated forward DeAndre Stallings in the Cosumnes Oaks Runnin’ With the Pack tournament. Halsey was the sixth man for the Hawks’ 27-6 team last season.
Liberty Ranch, 6-0 for the first time, has no starter taller than 6-1.
Baylee baller – Forward Baylee Vanderdoes set a school record – girls or boys – with 41 points for the Placer girls basketball team in a 77-71 victory over West Valley of Cottonwood on Saturday in the Harlan Carter Tournament in Redding. The San Diego State-bound senior made six three-pointers and nine free throws. She is the sister of Eddie Vanderdoes, a star defensive lineman for UCLA.
Et cetera – Elk Grove senior two-sport star Ryan Robards, the Sac-Joaquin Section’s most versatile football player, signed a baseball letter of intent with Pacific. Robards, a switch-hitting outfielder-infielder who helped Elk Grove win a section title last spring, led the area in rushing this season with 2,884 yards and 43 touchdowns. There’s an out clause in his letter of intent that allows Robards to sign a football scholarship although he has not been offered one despite his 4.0 GPA and impressive season.
▪ Willows High football coach Jim Ward died Dec. 9 of esophageal cancer. Ward, who was 50, is survived by his wife and four children. Ward missed the 2014 season for treatments but returned this season. Willows beat Live Oak 35-6 in a regular-season finale Nov. 6. Ward led the Honkers to Northern Section championships in 2011 and 2012.