High School Sports

As high school basketball playoffs begin, here’s who can light up the scoreboard

West Campus’ Gabby Rones can score on the basketball court and the junior guard is also excelling in the classroom.
West Campus’ Gabby Rones can score on the basketball court and the junior guard is also excelling in the classroom. Special to The Sacramento Bee

It’s a team game with a mandate of one for all, all for one.

But basketball is also about point production, and nothing strikes the senses more than the prolific scorer.

The Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs that start this week – Tuesday for the girls, Wednesday for the boys – feature a number of scorers who relish a shot to take shots. Now is the time to ride the hot hand, when there is no promise of tomorrow.

West Campus has one player from its back-to-back CIF State championship teams. It’s Gabby Rones, a 5-foot-4 junior guard who sports a 3.9 GPA and can dominate play without dominating the ball.

She went for 42 of her team’s 50 points in a game against Cathedral Catholic of San Diego on Jan. 19, a school record. Rones scored inside, outside and from the free-throw line.

“Amazing,” Warriors coach John Langston said in reflection. “She had 33 the night before on a Friday night, then had the 42 the next morning before fouling out in the fourth quarter. I tell Gabby to enjoy the roll. She’s such a modest kid, and I have to ask her, ‘Do you know who you are and what you’re doing?’

“She’s doing incredible things for us, and she doesn’t feel as if she’s even arrived.”

Arrival time is now for the No. 2-seeded Warriors, who aim to face top-seeded Colfax in the Division IV final. Colfax is led by Grace Bliss, a junior guard/wing averaging 20.4 points.

On the boys side, Andre Crump leads the charge at Monterey Trail.

A Bee All-Metro receiver/all-purpose guy for a 12-1 football team, Crump averages a modest 15.7 points, but there was nothing ordinary about what he unleashed on River City on Feb. 6. The 6-foot senior guard went for 50 points, making 10 of 19 3-pointers while staying within the flow of the game in a victory.

That scoring came in 30 minutes. The only numbers more glossy on his résumé is his 4.0 GPA.

“Phenomenal what he did, and I think it’ll carry over into the playoffs,” said Monterey Trail coach Robert Fields, whose No. 8-seed Mustangs host No. 9 Davis in a D-I opener on Wednesday. “After awhile we just decided to ride his heat. He was in such a groove, and the best part of it was every single teammate bought in, rooting for him. It was an unreal experience to be a part of, a lot of fun.

“His confidence is through the roof, and he’s a great leader, in games, out of practice. Sometimes, a kid has an off day in games, but his leadership never takes a day off.”

Fields said he’s human. He likes the kid.

“I told his parents, ‘Your kid is special,’” Fields said. “He does everything the right way. People may think, ‘Coach has his favorites.’ Well, yeah, when a kid has a 4.0, works extremely hard, is a great teammate, he’s a favorite. You want 15 Crumps on your team.”

Jack of all shots

Jack Jones of Jesuit is a man of many tasks. He’s a 4.0 student, the student body president and a school record holder in scoring, thanks to the 49 points he dropped on Franklin on Jan. 7.

The 6-foot-2 senior guard scored every which way, and still does, including the 24 he had last week against Sheldon, the section’s top team. The Marauders are seeded fourth in D-I, seeking their 19th trip to a final and their 12th banner.

Jones may have to carry Big Red to get past some formidable hurdles, including a potential rematch with Sheldon in a semifinal.

“Jack’s been great, and he’s had games when he’s been really hot,” Jesuit coach Tim Kelly said. “The game against Franklin, he wasn’t a one-man show. He was making really good decisions and his teammates recognized he was having a special night and started to feed him.”

Big on Bagley

Sheldon has the section’s deepest team and potentially its most outlandish scorer in Marcus Bagley. He is clearly the area’s top talent.

A national recruit 6-foot-8 guard/wing, Bagley averages 21.5 points for a team big on sharing the scoring wealth. But he is capable of a 50-point outburst, if needed. Bagley had 41 against Davis, hitting runners, 3-pointers and dunks.

“He can do it all, play any position, and he’s a great team player,” Sheldon coach Joey Rollings said.

Points for Patterson

Jalen Patterson of D-IV top seed Liberty Ranch of Galt averages 23.3 points a game.

The junior guard is bearing down on several career scoring marks and is a marvel with the dribble. Patterson can score in a flash on drives and he can shoot. He can pass, too, leading the team with 5.9 assists a game.

Patterson also takes his role as a leader seriously, which is why he agonized over the team’s losses in a 26-2 start.

Small-school marvels

Scoring in bunches isn’t specific to larger schools. The small-school stars relish the act, too.

In Carmichael, Sacramento Adventist Academy has been led by 5-foot-9 sophomore Breckin Beaman, averaging 21.2 points as the lead guard. On Jan. 10 against Cristo Rey, he scored 49 on 17-of-24 shooting, including 11 of 17 from 3-point range.

The Capitals have won 17 consecutive games and loom as a real threat in D-V, especially if Beaman keeps this up.

“He’s special, no joke, and he could play anywhere,” Sacramento Adventist coach Scott Tedmon said. “I first saw him as a seventh-grader and I was mesmerized, but he needed to work on his shot, and he has. He’s a perfectionist. The 49 he had on that kind of shooting, for a high-school kid, that’s unheard of. I don’t care what size school he plays for.”

The area’s scoring leader for girls is Bernada Rreshpja of Valley Christian Academy in Roseville.

The senior guard averages 26.5 points for VCA, the No. 2 seed in D-VI. The program seeks its fourth title since 2014.

Hot Harriel

The area’s lone five-star recruit in girls basketball is Jzaniya Harriel, a 5-foot-10 sophomore guard for Antelope.

The Titans are the top seed in the D-II playoffs. No. 2 Sacramento is led by its own prolific guard RyAnne Walters, a 5-4 blur of a senior. Harriel averages 23.4 points (and 12.7 rebounds), inflicting damage with drives, jumpers and bombs.

She is a team player by every measure, a 4.5 GPA student with advanced placement courses. Stanford has expressed serious interest. Should the defending section champions need Harriel to hit for 40 or more on a big stage, coach Sean Chambers will call her number.

“She’s the best sophomore I’ve ever seen,” Chambers said. “She could score 30 or 40 a night.”

Upstart scorers

Davis is seeded 12th in girls D-I and open Tuesday at storied Oak Ridge, which is sure to focus on leading scorer Cristina Oliva, who is averaging 18.5 a game.

The senior guard scored 44 against Sheldon on Jan. 25.

At D-IV Capital Christian, the Cougars will look to junior guard Maile Williams to fill it up.

Averaging 19.5 points and fielding perfect grades, Williams had 39 against Stagg of Stockton on Nov. 30. Rones and West Campus loom in the same bracket.

Sibling act

Diamond Richardson of Grant isn’t just the top scorer for the Grant girls with 21 points per game, including 47 on 14-of-20 shooting against Oakmont. The sophomore guard might just be the best scorer at the family dinner table.

Her brother, Steven, is a 6-foot-4 senior guard for the top-seeded D-II boys team. He averages 18 a game.

“Yes, she’s much better,” Grant boys coach Deonard Wilson said with a laugh. “She’s fearless!”

The Grant girls open D-II play at Whitney, led by 5-foot-9 senior guard Jada Lewis, who averages 14.9 a game.

Joe Davidson has covered sports for The Sacramento Bee since 1988 and is award-winning authority on high school sports, specializing in going behind the scenes. Davidson was a high school athlete in Oregon, where he participated in football and track.