Double-digit deficits don’t bother this group.
The Antelope Titans have made a habit of charging back and prevailing in the final, frantic seconds, never mind the toll on the coaches, including head man Rob Richards, who would do anything for a runaway victory.
“It’s more fun for these guys to be down double digits in the third quarter,” Richards said Monday with a laugh. “This team has something inside of them. They never feel like they’re out of it. There’s no quit in them.”
Ranked seventh by The Bee, Antelope is 17-3 with a 10-game winning streak. The Titans have answered every challenge in the Capital Valley Conference, one of the top boys leagues in the Sac-Joaquin Section. The Titans are 7-0 in league play and have a leg up on Bee-ranked No. 11 Whitney, No. 16 Roseville and No. 17 Del Campo.
Antelope beat Whitney 60-59 in overtime, then topped Cosumnes Oaks 53-50 and on Friday edged Del Campo 67-65.
Richards called his final time out with 24 seconds left against Del Campo, ordered up some plays and pleas for stops, and a 9-2 run sealed it for the Titans.
The run was punctuated by a Ty Burrell layup in the last second off a Coleman Hawkins steal and outlet to Kameron Warrens, who fired a long pass in stride to Burrell.
“As a coach, I couldn’t be more proud how we played under pressure,” Richards said. “I like these kids. They work hard. They’re pretty happy, which makes them easy to coach. Our phrase is ‘all in together.’ Everyone has a role. Find that role, embrace it, do your best and you’re going to be happier and the team will be better.”
Richards’ team-first motto has worked. Of the seven graduating classes Antelope has produced, the Titans have enjoyed five league championships, four trips to the section finals and two section banners. Richards is the only varsity head coach in program history, starting in 2009.
The close games in league add to the fun and anxiety. Antelope is a tough team to guard because of balance. Warrens averages 12.8 points, De’Shaun Pickens 11.3, Hawkins 10.4 and Burrell 10.1 The fifth starter, Dylan Ginda, does the dirty work. Titans players have collectively stepped up to fill the void of starting center Gavyn Kamminga, who was lost on the eve of the season with a knee injury.
“This league, every night, is a grind,” Richards said. “The Delta League and the Sierra Foothill are the two best in the section, no doubt, but I’ll put our league as the third best in the section.”
McClatchy moved up one spot in The Bee rankings to No. 3 after toppling previous No. 2 Sacramento 58-36 in a Metropolitan Conference showdown for first place among rivals.
Richelle Turney had 16 points, and Kamryn Hall and Kayla Fermil each had 14 for the Lions. Adriana Avent had 14 for Sacramento, now ranked fourth. West Campus is ranked second, having beaten McClatchy this season but also losing to top-ranked Folsom.
Holy Court – No. 11 St. Francis beat rival No. 12 Christian Brothers 57-51 in a nonleague game deemed “Holy Court.”
Marlee Nichols scored 16 points and had 12 rebounds, and Nika Bagatelos scored 15 points for the Troubadours, who entered the week 8-0 in the Delta League.
Inderkum on a roll – Inderkum has won 11 of 12 games and leads the Tri-County Conference. Nailah Dillard is averaging 22.9 points and 5.2 rebounds, and Sidney Richards is scoring 8.9 a game.
Issah Crocker of Inderkum said he will sign his letter of intent with Oregon, making the decision on Monday, his late mother’s birthday. January Keene died in 2007.
Crocker will join Christian Brothers tight end Spencer Webb, who has already committed to the Ducks.
Davion Ross, Crocker’s Inderkum teammate, has committed to Sacramento State.
Colfax tight end Garren O’Keefe has committed to UC Davis. O’Keefe is a two-sport star, leading the basketball team in scoring (20.7 points).
All-State honors – Cal-Hi Sports All-State Junior team included quarterback Kaiden Bennett, defensive lineman Tyler Hardeman, receiver Joe Ngata and center Kaden Richardson of Folsom, defensive end/linebacker Cade Brownholtz, defensive end/tight end Laiatu Latu and cornerback Isaiah Rutherford, Joey Capra of Placer, defensive back Tyler Green of Christian Brothers, defensive back Dawson Hurst of Del Oro and receiver Alvin Banks of Cordova.
Area players making Cal-Hi’s All-State Sophomore list include receiver Elijah Badger and running back Daniyel Ngata of Folsom.
THE BEE’S TOP 20
With last week’s ranking in parentheses.
1. Folsom (1) 18-3
2. West Campus (3) 13-7
3. McClatchy (4) 16-5
4. Sacramento (2) 12-9
5. Cosumnes Oaks (5) 17-2
6. Foothill (6) 18-3
7. Antelope (7) 14-4
8. Oak Ridge (8) 12-10
9. Union Mine (9) 20-1
10. Whitney (11) 14-6
11. St. Francis (13) 13-7
12. Christian Brothers (12) 14-7
13. Colfax (10) 18-3
14. Roseville (14) 14-6
15. Del Oro (15) 15-6
16. Woodcreek (16) 14-6
17. Davis (17) 10-10
18. Franklin (18) 13-5
19. Elk Grove (-) 11-10
20. Placer (20) 14-7
Dropped out: No. 19 Rocklin
1. Sheldon (1) 17-3
2. Capital Christian (2) 14-6
3. Folsom (3) 17-4
4. Jesuit (4) 16-4
5. Oak Ridge (6) 15-7
6. Sacramento (8) 17-4
7. Antelope (11) 17-3
8. Grant (9) 15-6
9. Del Oro (7) 15-6
10. Woodcreek (10) 15-7
11. Whitney (12) 16-4
12. Liberty Ranch (5) 19-3
13. Burbank (13) 16-5
14. Davis (14) 13-8
15. Franklin (15) 14-7
16. Roseville (16) 15-5
17. Del Campo (17) 14-6
18. Colfax (19) 16-6
19. West Campus (20) 15-6
20. Lincoln (-) 18-4
Dropped out: No. 18 Granite Bay