The effort was there if not the desired end results. In a battle of defending Northern California large-school basketball champions, Monte Vista of Danville held off a late charge by Bee No. 1 Folsom 66-64 to cap a fun, wild Saturday at Jesuit in the 13th Father Kelly Tribute.
Jordan Ford, The Bee's Player of the Year last season, scored 25 points, but he really wanted to finish with 28. The junior guard uncorked a half-court shot as time expired, but it didn't hit the bottom of the net. It hit the bottom of a ceiling speaker, allowing the Mustangs of the North Coast Section to hold on and head back to the Bay Area satisfied travelers.
Monte Vista won the NorCal and CIF State Division I championships last season under coach Nick Jones, who loved every moment of it with the double bonus of this being that this is his alma mater. Graduation gutted the bulk of his roster yet, Jones has another spirited, skilled and tenacious team that is off to an 11-2 start.
Folsom (13-3) is the defending CIF NorCal Division II champion and returned the bulk of its lineup under coach Mike Wall, who won his 300th career game on Friday, a Sierra Foothill League rout of Granite Bay. But the veteran coach agonized on this one.
Folsom had no answers for Stefan Mitu as the senior guard scored 36 points on a variety of jumpers and drives. Wilson LaShells, a 6-foot-6 senior, had 20.
Jared Wall had 10 points for Folsom, and the energetic junior guard called time out in the air as he soared for a rebound off a missed Mustangs free throw with 1.4 seconds to go to set up the final attempt.
Ford, as he has so many times before, got hot down the stretch to rally the Bulldogs, hitting jumpers and driving to the bucket. Folsom has not lost to a regional team. It does have a big rally and win over NorCal power Mitty of San Jose. Tre Finch's pull-up three-pointer with 2.2 seconds left pulled Folsom to within 65-64. Mitu hit the front-end of a 1-and-1 with 1.7 seconds to go, after being fouled to stop the clock.
- Check Sunday's Bee for other game capsules from Saturday, or later tonight on sacbee.com
- Joe Davidson