Joe Davidson

How Sheldon basketball overcame a high-flying national recruit behind an unsung guard

Sheldon Huskies guard Dale Currie (0) embraces teammate Dom Johnson (1) after the Huskies made up a double-digit halftime deficit to beat the Memorial of Fresno 67-65 on Friday.
Sheldon Huskies guard Dale Currie (0) embraces teammate Dom Johnson (1) after the Huskies made up a double-digit halftime deficit to beat the Memorial of Fresno 67-65 on Friday. jvillegas@sacbee.com

Dom Johnson didn't have near the pedigree as his more celebrated opponent Friday night.

Johnson doesn't even start for Sheldon High School – but watch him finish. With the game on the line, he drove hard against the top-rated sophomore prospect in the country. His floater in the lane as time was running out gave the Huskies a 67-65 overtime victory over Memorial of Fresno on Friday night in a CIF Northern California Open Division contest.

The meeting in south Sacramento pitted The Sacramento Bee's top-ranked team against The Fresno Bee's No. 1 outfit.

Johnson scored the final two of his 24 points against Jalen Green, a marvelous 6-foot-5 guard with a full arsenal, including leap-out-of-the-gym ability.

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Sheldon Huskies guard Dom Johnson (1) watches his shot float over San Joaquin Memorial Panthers guard Jalen Green (C) (4) into the basket to give the Huskies a two point lead with four seconds left in overtime. Jose Luis Villegas

Green had the overflow gym buzzing when he opened with three top-of-the-key swishes. He's best known for his dunks, but Sheldon's defense kept him grounded, only allowing him to approach the rim a couple times. He was emphatically blocked by Chris Wriedt inches from the iron with Sheldon up 65-63 with 1:43 to go. And Green missed another dunk a moment later as he was contested by waves of Huskies.

He finished with 23 points, but Sheldon (27-5) held him to two field goals in the second half.

Johnson – a Bee All-Metro football star in the fall and a role player in winter – is as low key as he is versatile, and he is a testament to a team-first mentality. He could start at a number of programs across the regions, but suggested to the coaches before the season that he would be a better fit as an energizer off the bench.

"He's been great for us," Sheldon coach Joey Rollings said of Johnson. "He's strong, he smart, and he's tough, and he can wheel and deal around the basket. I like his power off the bench."

Sheldon is so talented and deep that it was able to advance to Tuesday's NorCal semifinal against Folsom, a 75-70 overtime winner over CalHi Sports state No. 1 Salesian, without leading player Dale Currie scoring. The senior guard had nine rebounds, and he fed Johnson with an assist for an overtime bucket.

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San Joaquin Memorial Panthers guard Jalen Green (C) (4) hooks Sheldon Huskies guard Dom Johnson (1) as he drives to the basket in the second half. Jose Luis Villegas

Wriedt, a 6-10 center, powered inside for 17 points. He also had 11 rebounds. Xavion and Xavier Brown combined for 18 points and a lot of energy.

There was an emphatic dunk in the game, but it wasn't by any of the high-flying Panthers of the Central Section. It was delivered by Kaito Williams, off a Johnson alley-oop assist for a 65-63 lead with 1:59 to play.

Rollings said he and the Huskies were impressed with Green, but stressed the deeper team won.

"(Green) is a player," the coach said. "He hit those first three 3's with a guy on him. I mean, what do you do?"

On Sheldon's final play, Rollings told his team to get the ball to Johnson. "Coach said to get me the ball and I went for it," Johnson said of his winner. "I'm more than excited. We all are. We didn't want the season to end yet."

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San Joaquin Memorial Panthers guard Jalen Green (C) (4) is introduced before the San San Joaquin Memorial Panthers played the Sheldon Huskies in the first round of the NorCal open division on Friday March 9, 2018 at Sheldon High School. Jose Luis Villegas

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