Stephen Matthews doesn’t have a next basketball season.
The urgency is on the immediate for the lone senior on the Sacramento High School boys roster.
Matthews is the unsung player for the Dragons entering the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II championship game Saturday against Modesto Christian at Sleep Train Arena. He’s a four-year varsity player and a steadying influence on a team heavy with sophomore and juniors.
“He’s our most experienced player,” Dragons coach Derek Swafford said.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Sacramento Bee
Averaging 9.5 points and 3.9 rebounds this season, Matthews helped Sacramento race past Cosumnes Oaks 82-55 in a Wednesday night semifinal.
Sacramento is in a section title game for the sixth time since 2005 against an opponent that should make the D-II final a fun and fast show. Modesto Christian seeks an ongoing section record 17th banner since 1997.
“It should be a great game,” Swafford said. “I know we won’t back down.”
Sacramento’s balanced offense includes guards Sayvon Hines, Christian Terrell, Andrew Williams and center Solomon Young.
Heavyweights vs. upstarts – Top-seeded Vanden, a NorCal girls power the past three seasons, plays No. 3 Rio Linda in the D-III finals Friday at Sleep Train.
Rio Linda, 0-4 in title games, last played in one 30 years ago and lost to Roseville 41-36.
Jerry Huffhines was a senior at Rio Linda that season; he now coaches the Knights and his daughter, Brandy, a sophomore guard.
Return trip – Capital Christian coach Suzanne Baker hopes the third time is the charm for her girls’ program. The Cougars face Ripon Christian Friday at 4 p.m. at Sleep Train in the D-V finals, having lost in the title game the past two seasons.
The Cougars rebounded after losing the core of last year’s team to graduation. They are led by senior Nicole Colbert (14.3 points, six rebounds) and freshman Elana Hall (12.9 points, 6.1 rebounds).
Three-peat hopes – Bradshaw Christian’s girls seek a D-IV three-peat behind coach Mike Ruble, who has four titles since 2008. Four-year varsity starters Erika Bean (21.1 points) and Jordyn Bell (20.4 points, 15.3 rebounds) lead the Pride on Saturday against Brookside Christian of Stockton, a longtime small-school power and led by junior guard Aarion McDonald (27.4 points, 8.9 rebounds and six assists).
Ngo knows championships – After leading the Brookside Christian girls to three consecutive titles as coach, Que Ngo is now an assistant with D-I McClatchy.
He works up a sweat in running drills with players during practice and before games. Top-ranked by The Bee all season, McClatchy on Saturday night at Sleep Train faces nationally ranked St. Mary’s of Stockton, winners of seven consecutive titles. McClatchy has won 13 consecutive games behind leading scorer and rebounder Gigi Garcia, a junior forward who has become a college recruit.
Follow Joe Davidson on Twitter @SacBee_JoeD.
SAC-JOAQUIN SECTION BASKETBALL CHAMPIONSHIPS
All games at Sleep Train Arena
Division V girls: Capital Christian vs. Ripon Christian, 4 p.m.
Division V boys: Brookside Christian vs. Elliot Christian, 5:30 p.m.
Division III girls: Vanden vs. No. 3 Rio Linda, 7:30 p.m.
Division III boys: Sierra-Manteca vs. Weston Ranch-Stockton, 9 p.m.
Division IV girls: Bradshaw Christian vs. Brookside Christian, 11:30 a.m.
Division II girls: Modesto Christian vs. Kimball-Tracy, 1 p.m.
Division IV boys: Capital Christian vs. Liberty Ranch, 3 p.m.
Division II boys: Sacramento vs. Modesto Christian, 4:30 p.m.
Division I girls: McClatchy vs. St. Mary’s-Stockton, 6:30 p.m.
Division I boys: Folsom vs. Sheldon, 8:30 p.m.