Top-seeded Franklin played a complete game in taking apart No. 9 Pleasant Grove 85-40 tonight in a Sac-Joaquin Section Division I quarterfinal boys game at Pacific.
The Wildcats of Elk Grove pulled a rarity in that a running clock was used as part of the 40-point mercy rule, with 35 seconds remaining. For three-plus quarters Franklin put on a thorough clinic, with defense the theme.
The Wildcats have a terrific guard set with Michael Rosaroso (21 points), Hennessee Lott (8), Anthony King (12) and freshman Ikenna Iroegbu (2). Rosaroso is a superb dribbler who looks to attack and go off the glass, or shoot from mid or long range. He is as fearless as he is strong, a three-year starter who has been to UOP in the quarterfinals each season.
To complement Rosaroso, Lott and King are superb athletes. Coach Jesse Formaker was pleased with his team's showing, exhorting his bunch to defend and share the ball. Franklin led 38-20 at the half and 67-29 after three in sucking the life out of the Eagles in winning their fifth straight game and 11th out of 12.
Franklin beat Edison of Stockton 80-62 in a playoff opener and played even better defense against a better team tonight.
"When we play defense, we have the opportunity to be pretty good," Formaker said. "That's what we put on our board - team and effort. If you play as a team and not worry about stats or highlight plays, and everyone plays with effort, we'll be fine. I was pleased with the boys."
Pleasant Grove will return a wealth of talent next season, including guard Cody Demps, post Curtis Williams, shooter Rodrick Hylton and big man Arik Armstead, who was limited this season with a leg injury.
Franklin plays Turlock of the Central California Conference at 5:30 on Thursday. Turlock beat Rodriguez 78-68 in a quarterfinal at UOP. In the other D-I semifinal Thursday at Arco, No. 6 Sheldon plays No. 2 Merced in what should be a fun up-and-down affair.
All told, seven of the top eight seeds in Tuesday's action - Divisions I and V (boys and girls at Galt) - won tonight.
Nearly 90 percent of the higher seeds have won in the early rounds - boys and girls - which shows that the seeding do indeed work. If this holds up, it would be an all-time section record for combined winning percentage for higher seeds since the tournament started in 1972, section assistant commissioner John Williams said.
The "surprise" lower seeds who are still alive are not real surprises at all. They are the Sheldon boys, which started the season as The Bee's No. 1 team, and the No. 10 McClatchy girls, which again bounced a No. 2 seed under coach Harvey Tahara. The Lions played Sacramento tough in two Metro League games and battled two-time defending D-I champion Kennedy in a nonleague game.
The teams play in a rematch Wednesday at UOP for a berth in Saturday's D-I finals against the winner of Wednesday's Oak Ridge-Franklin meeting.
The Franklin boys seek its third finals spot since 2005 and first title. Turlock has never reached the section finals.