There is a decided winning culture at Granite Bay High School, and the walls offer a striking reminder of success.
Green banners decorate the gymnasium of this pristine Placer County campus, with the girls flexing a lot of championship muscle in the Sac-Joaquin Section.
Tennis has won seven section banners, cross country five, golf three, soccer two and volleyball two, not to mention the 45-0 CIF State Division I championship group of 2014.
The loneliest green banner of the lot belongs to basketball. It features one mention: the 2004 league championship.
If Tuesday is even a hint of an indicator, things may be changing on that front.
Playing perhaps their best game of the season and at just the right time, No. 7 Granite Bay delivered a 62-45 knockout of an Elk Grove program used to playoff success, doing so in a Division II opener.
“It’s a great school with good kids but we haven’t won a lot in basketball, and we don’t get the big transfer kids in here,” said veteran coach Angel Delgadillo. “Girls here have so many sports they can play. We’ve been trying to change the culture here, but it’s hard.”
Granite Bay (20-8) has no star players as it is a gritty bunch that makes the extra pass and hustles on defense. But the Grizzlies do have a familiar basketball name and presence.
Skyy Jackson is a senior guard/forward whose father is an assistant coach. He is Bobby Jackson, the beloved Kings energizer guard during the franchise’s Sacramento heyday of the early 2000s.
But Bobby Jackson wasn’t on hand Tuesday. It seems his fiery persona got the best of him. He received two technical fouls during Granite Bay’s last outing last week on Senior Night, thus an ejection and an automatic suspension for the next game.
“Oh dad, we’re used to it,” Skyy Jackson said with a laugh. “He got tossed for talking too much.”
Jackson missed a good show that had a nice finishing touch. Delgadillo inserted junior varsity call-up Sarah Jackson, Bobby’s younger daughter, to play the closing moments with her sister. The home crowd roared its approval.
Skyy plays with her father’s passion and pride, hawking ballhandlers and scrapping for loose balls and rebounds, much like her teammates.
“That’s one thing we do – play hard,” Skyy Jackson said.
Shayla Boley led Granite Bay (21-8) with 20 points, and Brianna Lambey and Sage Smith each scored eight for a program that won its first playoff game since 2008. That Granite Bay is still standing is testament to the program, which suffered a major blow earlier this season when the team’s top player, Adrienne Russell, was lost for the campaign with a torn knee ligament.
Ikeysha Smith led No. 10 Elk Grove (17-12) with 19 points.
The Grizzlies competed with class right to the end. Granite Bay players made sure to fist-bump Elk Grove coach Larry Price in the postgame line.
A two-time Bee Coach of the Year, Price was in a motorized cart, an oxygen tube snaking out of his nose to a tank. Normally a towering presence, Price has been slowed by a lingering lung infection.
Common sense dictates that he be home resting, but Price is as stubborn as he is driven.
“Before,” he said, “basketball needed me. I need basketball now. This keeps me going. I need to do this. I’ll be OK.”
Price’s wife, Cindy, agreed, saying, “Coaching is his medicine. He lives these girls too much not to do this, and if he was at home, he’d be driving me crazy. Doctors are amazed at how well he’s doing. I was afraid at first, but I know this is his right place.”
Delgadillo is in his element, too. The retired Sacramento police officer inherited a 3-24 team in 2011, but he’s now taken the Grizzlies to the postseason three times.
“Coaching keeps me out of the doghouse at home,” Delgadillo said with a laugh. “We have a nice team, great chemistry. We didn’t have it early, but we have it now. We’re peaking at the right time.”
Granite Bay will travel to Stockton on Thursday to face No. 2 Bear Creek in a rematch of last year’s first-round meeting, won by the Bruins. Bear Creek cruised past No. 15 Modesto Christian 74-33 on Tuesday.