Sayvon Hines is easy to spot.
He’s the perpetually upbeat fellow bounding across the Sacramento High School campus by day, greeting all comers with a smile, a high-five or a firm handshake.
There’s reason for his good cheer: Hines is a 3.7-GPA student with sparkling ACT and SAT scores. He aspires to study engineering in college.
By night – game night – Hines is even quicker to the pace, fast with the dribble, quick to pull up for a 3-pointer or attack the rim, a pest on defense. And the hair? No one rocks the locks quite like the Dragons senior guard. It’s a high-rise ’do with varying colors, and the mop bounces as he bounds. Hines also sports a jaw-line beard that makes the kid seem a bit more adult.
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Hines looks the part, plays the part, talks the part. The No. 14 Dragons, the school and the region mean a great deal to him. And as he goes, so, do the young Dragons, who came of age on Friday night with a spirited 61-56 win over No. 3 Burbank at Sac High, snapping the Titans’ 12-game winning streak.
Hines is the lone remaining regular from last season. The Dragons graduated just about everyone from a 30-2 team that stands as the best in school history.
“We’re getting better every day, learning how to play,” said Hines, sounding like a captain after scoring 16 points on Friday. “Big games here are fun. Since we had all of those seniors last year, it was a heavy load on me, and I wanted to show that we could still do good things, and I wanted to show what I could do.”
The Dragons are 11-2 in the Metropolitan Conference and 16-10 overall.
Hines is 5-foot-11 with the high hair, but by any measure, his effort registers nothing short of enormous. He’s a fourth-year varsity player, tasked with leading the show and leading the way for a program that has three freshmen and two sophomores in the rotation. You either grow up fast in the Metropolitan Conference, or you get mowed under. Hines prefers to do the mowing. He arrives at school before class to get some work in the gym, and he stays after practices to get more shots up, often with the help of his father, Elriken Hines.
Sayvon Hines has juiced up “The Lair” beyond his hair. The Dragons’ home setting inside the historic Dave Hotell Pavilion has to be seen and experienced to be fully appreciated. The setting has been a social epicenter in Oak Park for decades. Charley Walker lit it up for the Dragons in the 1950s, Chris McMurray did so in the 1960s, and defenses surrounded Elk Grove’s All-American Bill Cartwright in the 1970s, including the regal Ralph DeLoach. Kevin Johnson led the state in scoring in the early 1980s, Anthony Lambert earned Bee Player of the Year honors in the 1990s … and so it goes.
Last season, the Dragons had another Bee Player of the Year – Solomon Young, who played a key role in Iowa State’s upset win at Kansas this season. Christian Terrell, another Bee All-Metro performer, is one of seven Dragons from last season’s squad who is playing in college, for UC Santa Barbara.
Hines has had his Lair moments, too. He beat Kennedy with a 3-pointer at the buzzer earlier this season, and he was the best player on the floor Friday in key stretches.
Said one old timer, admiringly, “Love the kid! Love the hair!”
Said Hines about the hair, “I’ve done this my whole life. It’s fun.”
Does his girlfriend, Mishal Thrower, approve?
“Oh, yeah! She likes it,” Hines said. “So I’m good.”
So are the Dragons, who also received contributions Friday from Miles Lewis, Darryl Heidelberg, Jabari Sweet and Izayah Talmadge. After the game, coach Earl Allen applauded his group for its effort, adding, “You made your school and community proud.”
Allen is in his first year as head coach, moving up from his longtime role as assistant to Derek Swafford, the winningest coach in program history. Swafford stepped down as coach but still attends games as a fan. The respect and admiration between players and coaches here remains a unifying bond. Take Hines, who ensured that Friday’s game also would be heavy on good sportsmanship.
“The amount of work that kid puts in is ridiculous,” Allen said. “It means a lot to him, to all of us.”
Said Hines of his coach: “He’s a great man. He knows what he’s doing, and we listen to him. We respect him, appreciate him.”