Small school makes it big as Sacramento Adventist basketball wins division title
The coach is animated and into it.
Scott Tedmon jumped out of his seat Monday night during crucial moment of the game, clapped his hands and spun a 360. He was all grins and moves.
Not bad for a guy in a suit, closing in on his 65th birthday, and for a fellow who wouldn’t dare do such a thing during his day job.
Tedmon is a judge of the Superior Court of Sacramento County. He exhibits all manner of calm in that setting.
In basketball, where he works another bench on another court, Tedmon is the fourth-year coach for Sacramento Adventist Academy, a cozy tree-lined campus nestled off Winding Way in Carmichael. He heads a program that is a sparkling example of a small school achieving big things in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division V playoffs.
“Coaching is so much fun, just a gas,” a radiant Tedmon said after his Capitals defeated Denair 67-36 in a D-V quarterfinal for the program’s 19th consecutive victory.
The Capitals (25-5) are a victory away from competing for a grand prize on the biggest stage. The section D-V title game is Saturday at Golden 1 Center. Sacramento Adventist plays at Argonaut in a semifinal Wednesday night.
“In court, family law,” Tedmon continued, “there is no ‘ha ha’ – it’s very serious. Here, we can have fun. It’s high school basketball, so enjoy yourself, and we are.”
But make no mistake. There is fun and there is accountability. The judge wields an iron fist here, too.
“There are parallels to both jobs,” Tedmon said. “I’m very demanding. There are rules.”
Tedmon has become something of a feel-good punch line with his judge friends. They tease him in wondering how a man of such calm in one court can turn various shades of a reddish hue on a different kind of court. Sacramento judges Jim Mize and John Winn attend games when they can, insisting on sitting with students to be part of the atmosphere.
“I appreciate those guys,” Tedmon said.
Tedmon smiles when he insists the family leader is his wife of 37 years, Teri. A fitness coach, Teri still catches the eye of the judge.
“I won’t make eye contact with Scott when I enter the gym, because I know it’ll distract him,” Teri said with a laugh. “I don’t call him ‘your honor.’ I may call him my honorable sweetie, though.”
Sacramento Adventist is small only in terms of campus enrollment, 270 students attend the kindergarten through 12th-grade school. There are 38 in the senior class.
The sidelines at home games might as well be the walls. It’s that cramped, something out of “Hoosiers.” Fans lined across the wall cannot extend their legs or they’d be on the court. One baseline has seating for three deep, and the other is a stage that packs in people young and old in a sea of school-colored red.
It’s a fire marshal’s nightmare. The place seats 350, maybe, but it overflowed Monday, the cheers bouncing off the closed-in walls.
“It’s such a great setting here,” said athletic director Kenny Johnston, a graduate of the school.
Senior twins Bryson and Jamison Collins have attended Sacramento Adventist since kindergarten, just like their older brothers did. The 6-foot-4 forwards participated in the school’s choir for the national anthem, in game uniform, a moment before Monday’s game.
Bryson is the senior class president. Jamison is 2 1/2 minutes older and reminds his brother regularly.
“We love it here, a great school,” Jamison said.
Said Bryson, “What we’ve done in basketball, it shows that we can do big things here, that we can show who we are. We credit the coaches. It’s because of them.”
Tedmon is in charge, but he credits assistant coach Dean Jones for “being the brains behind the operation.”
“We’re the best of friends,” Jones said, “but Scott’s the man.”
The two coach a team “without ego,” Tedmon said, and one that is “hungry and humble.”
The Capitals are fundamentally sound. They pass the ball, they shoot it and they defend with purpose. They have players who would start on area D-I programs.
The team’s leading scorer doesn’t strike much fear into opponents – until he starts shooting. Sophomore guard Breckin Beaman is a 3-point ace – from the corners, top of the key, anywhere. He averages 21.1 points.
Fellow guard Grant Dizon averages 6.1 points, forward Cameron Fowler averages 11.7 points, and Bryson and Jamison Collins 15.9 and 11.3, respectively.
Sacramento Adventist this season beat Rodriguez of Fairfield, which reached the D-II playoffs, and it defeated D-I McClatchy. The Capitals handled a Denair team that eliminated Bradshaw Chrsitian in the playoffs, the same Bradshaw Christian team that beat D-IV top seed Liberty Ranch late in the regular season.
The 2017 section championship Tedmon and company won in D-VI is the only blue banner for the school, which opened in 1958.
Over time, it took the acceptance of larger schools, even in summer league, to help elevate the program.
“We’re a small school, we get overlooked, and we had to earn respect,” Tedmon said. “We relish a challenge. We want to push ourselves. We just wanted a chance.”
Tedmon also challenges his players to be their best. He told Fowler upon his arrival from Bella Vista via transfer over the summer that he had to put ego away or he would never see game time. Fowler bought in.
“There’s no High School Hero Harry stuff here,” Tedmon said. “It’s academics, attitude and athletics here, and we won’t compromise.”
Said Fowler, “I needed him to be hard on me. He was right.”
Tedmon was a runner at Mira Loma High in the early 1970s, and he still runs, having competed in two Ironman competitions in recent years. He got hooked on hoops and law while a student at UCLA, where he studied John Wooden in his final seasons as the Bruins coach.
“What a basketball laboratory to study from,” Tedmon said.
Tedmon and his father, Cliff Tedmon, were law partners in Sacramento from 1980 through 1993. His father retired, and Tedmon went into private practice before his judicial appointment by then-Gov. Jerry Brown in December 2016.
Tedmon’s father inspires him even today. Cliff will be 95 in March. He was a World War II veteran, in the Navy. He calls his son regularly to talk court and basketball.
“My dad, my best friend in life,” Tedmon said. “He’s so sharp and he’s my greatest critic.”
Tedmon bounced around the basketball region, assisting programs at Bella Vista, Valley, Encina, Victory Christian and others. At Valley, in the mid 1980s, he worked under Jim Smrekar, one of the area’s great coaches from his stints at Valley and Florin.
“I was impressed right from the beginning,” said Smerkar, now the commissioner of the Metropolitan League. “Scott was very personable and he impressed me with his honesty, integrity, work ethic, intelligence. He’s a unique story.”
Tedmon also impressed Sacramento Adventist Academy principal Matthew Jakobsons when they met four years ago.
“When I got the job, I told Matt that this was a diamond in the rough, that we just needed to polish it up, but I wasn’t coming of we didn’t expand our goals, that I was too old to be patient,” Tedmon said. “He said it was music to his ears.”
Jakobsons said it still is.
“We’re well known now, the whole school, because of basketball,” Jakobsons said. “We settle into who we are athletically during basketball season. That’s our identity.”
Tedmon has no visions of stepping away from either bench. He and Teri have three children, in their 30s, and five grandsons, all living locally.
“We already have a basketball team!” Tedmon said of the grandsons.
He is a man who has found his element – in court and on the court.
“I never had a public-service job, and I was in private practice for years,” Tedmon said. “I absolutely love being a judge and being a basketball coach. I’ve learned a lot over the years from both. Children want boundaries, need them, or they create their own, or have none at all.
“Kids want to be coached, mentored. And like in life, you have go out and fend for yourself, be assertive, and go get it.”