Watch the game-winning plays as Sheldon High tops Bellarmine in prep basketball playoffs
The Ghost was the most Friday night in Placer County.
Spooked by the grim thought of a season of great promise painfully and suddenly ending at home, Tyrell “Ghost” Roberts decided to do something about it.
The senior point guard calmly dropped in two 3-pointers and had 12 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter to key top-seeded Woodcreek High School’s 68-66 triumph over No. 8 Capital Christian in a CIF Northern California Open Division Regional opener that was every bit as frantic and fun as expected.
Roberts is the team’s smallest starter at 5-foot-9 but also the best ballhandler, and he never flinches in big-game moments. He earned the nickname in middle school. Holding his own against older competition at a local gym, befuddled foes called him “Ghost” because he was so fast and tireless.
It stuck. Ghost is fast and accurate, and the Timberwolves escaped by extending their winning streak to 17 and halting Capital Christian’s at 18.
Such is the nature of the Open Division, where there is no room for the meek and weak and every mistake is magnified.
Take Roberts. He revels in big-game moments such as this. When teams clog the lane to make entry passes difficult to 6-foot-11 star center Jordan Brown, someone has to make long shots.
“I love those moments,” Roberts said excitedly. “That’s what I live for. You’ve got to be ready for that and deliver or lose.”
Woodcreek (30-2) will host longtime NorCal powerhouse De La Salle of Concord on Tuesday in a semifinal with a degree of historical significance.
Woodcreek eliminated De La Salle in the Division I NorCal tournament in 2015, when Brown was a freshman and Woodcreek was feeling its way in the D-I field after several successful postseason runs in D-II.
Seeded fourth in this event, De La Salle, known for defense, beat No. 5 Salesian of Richmond 36-31 on Friday.
“We earned that NorCal respect when we beat them there a couple of years ago,” Woodcreek coach Paul Hayes said. “That’s hard to do.”
Hayes enjoys being in the Open field, never mind agonizing through a game that drew an overflow crowd, including the famed Black Mob student section, as good a cheering section as there is in NorCal.
“The Open Division was created to put the best eight teams in to make for a heck of a tournament, and it is,” Hayes said. “We’ve won some games by 30 points this year. We’re getting used to these. It’s a pleasure to be in this event.”
Brown had 20 points and 20 rebounds, Jackson Hughes had 14 points and Chris Cagle 11 for Woodcreek, which beat Sheldon 69-68 on two last-second free throws by Brown to win the Sac-Joaquin Section D-I title Saturday.
Capital Christian won the section D-III championship and proved it was every bit Open Division-worthy in nearly derailing the Timberwolves. Austin Alexander, one of just two seniors on the roster, had 15 points for the Cougars (23-8).
Sheldon 47, Bellarmine 46 at Sheldon – Isaiah Duplechan hit a corner 3-pointer with 10 seconds left, and the second-seeded Huskies survived two potential game-winning attempts, including one at the buzzer, by the No. 7 Bells of San Jose.
Those were the only points of the second half for Duplechan, whose twin brother, Elishja, had 15 points in a defensive slugfest against the Central Coast Section Open champions. Sheldon will host No. 6 Archbishop Mitty of San Jose on Tuesday. Mitty beat No. 3 St. Joseph Notre Dame of Alameda 67-61.