Joe Davidson

Folsom and the flu can't stop Sheldon, as Huskies win in OT to reach section final

Sheldon Huskies forward Ronald Agebsar (24) yells after taking a pass and dunking the ball to give the Huskies a 64-60 lead on Wednesday in a Sac-Joaquin Section Division I semifinal.
Sheldon Huskies forward Ronald Agebsar (24) yells after taking a pass and dunking the ball to give the Huskies a 64-60 lead on Wednesday in a Sac-Joaquin Section Division I semifinal.

It's a simple motto and mandate by the coaches in teal, black and white.

Defend with pride and purpose or sit next to the coaches on the bench and hand out water bottles.

At Sheldon High School, basketball players earn their minutes with defensive hustle, and it's no wonder that the Huskies have been defined this decade by their grit, athleticism and execution.

The top-seeded Huskies charged to double-digit leads, then hung on in overtime to beat fourth-seeded Folsom 69-65 in a thrilling Sac-Joaquin Section Division I semifinal between regional powers on Wednesday night in south Sacramento.

Sheldon Huskies center Chris Wriedt (23) and teammate guard Justin Nguyen (11) bump at center court after the Huskies 69-65 victory in the D1 boys semifinal between Folsom and Sheldon on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2018 in Elk Grove. Jose Luis Villegas

In the last 24 meetings, Sheldon owns a 13-11 mark against Folsom. The Huskies halted a four-game skid to the Bulldogs, including a 50-49 decision in the 2015 D-I section final.

The Huskies (26-4) extended their winning streak to 19 with balanced scoring and just enough defensive stops in the first two-and-a-half quarters and in overtime to return to the section finals for the seventh time since 2000, all under coach Joey Rollings, who seeks his fifth championship.

Sheldon takes on 18-time section winner Modesto Christian on Saturday at Pacific. The second-seeded Crusaders rallied to beat No. 3 Capital Christian 69-59 despite 28 points from Rick Barros and 19 by Zach Chappell.

Sheldon also showed it is a deep outfit.

The team's top player, senior guard Dale Currie, was slowed by the flu and then missed all but the opening seconds of overtime after fouling out. Junior guard Justin Nguyen made five free throws down the stretch and finished with 14 points.

The contributions were everywhere. Emerging 6-foot-10 center Chris Wriedt had 11 points and 10 rebounds while battling Folsom's 6-9 Mason Forbes, who had six points, 12 rebounds and five blocked shots. Ronald Agebsar, a 6-4 leaper of a forward, had three baseline dunks for Sheldon and a follow-up slam in overtime. He finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Currie had six points and 10 rebounds, and guards Kaito Williams had 14, Dom Johnson seven and Xavier Brown five.

Sheldon Huskies center Chris Wriedt (23) points up into the crowd in the final seconds as Sheldon secures the win. Jose Luis Villegas

"When we play 'D' and share the ball, we're unstoppable," said Johnson, a member of The Bee's All-Metro football team. "We know that if we don't play 'D,' we don't play. We all play hard. And when Ronald is jumping like that, no one can stop him, or us."

Said Rollings, "We play great defense; it's what we do. We share the ball, move the ball, but we've got to make more free throws. That killed us tonight against a really good team."

Folsom was led by 5-3 guard Eljay Gallegos, who was terrific with the dribble, passing and shooting. The senior had 24 points to lead all scorers. Jayce McCain had 13.

Folsom coach Mike Wall was complimentary of Sheldon, saying, "They're so tough to match up with. They're so physical and so quick and athletic. They put it all out there tonight. They're high flying, hitting mid-range shots, long shots."

Folsom Bulldogs Martis Johnson (13) is bumped by teammate Mason Forbes (C) (25) after making a three point shot as he was fouled by Sheldon Huskies guard Dale Currie (0) to tie the game late in the fourth quarter. Jose Luis Villegas
Related stories from Sacramento Bee