BERKELEY - Not bad for a group of kids.
With its lineup of sophomores, sometimes playing their age and sometimes competing beyond their years, Sacramento High School saved the day for Bee top-ranked powers in the MaxPreps Martin Luther King Showcase at Cal, rallying to beat longtime power Salesian of Richmond 68-61 in the late game capper.
Dragons coach Derek Swafford has had a number of terrific teams in his 11 years at the Oak Park school, but he hasn't had one quite this young and this tantalizingly talented.
No. 3 Sacramento trailed 52-39 in the second half and then surged, taking the lead for good 55-54 on a top-of-the-key Solomon Young three-pointer with 4:32 to go, and then getting just enough breathing room on a corner three by guard Tre Finch with 4:13 to go for a 58-54 advantage.
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Young, a powerful post with skills, had 10 points and 10 rebounds. Finch had 24 points, including two free throws for a 66-61 lead with 34.8 seconds left. Christian Terrell, the sophomore guard and a fast-rising recruit, had a steal and dunk for a 60-54 lead with 2:28 left, and Young extended it to 63-57 with 1:35 left with a dunk and an and-1 free throw.
Just like that, the Dragons showed they can compete with the best on a day in which top-ranked Capital Christian lost to Bishop O'Dowd 86-60 and Bee No. 2 Jesuit fell for the first time this season, to Newark Memorial 60-50. All three teams, competing in different divisions, are heavy contenders to win Sac-Joaquin Section titles and make a run in the NorCal playoffs.
"We want these guys to be mentally tough because we know we're young," Swafford said of his team. "We're going to make young mistakes but we're growing. We can be really good. Our motto is to believe that we belong on this sort of stage, and we do."
The Dragons (14-3) have two losses to Capital Christian and one to one-loss El Cerrito. At Cal, they were also competing for their popular assistant coach Earl Allen, who was hospitalized last week with heart troubles.
"He'll be OK, and he'll get better," Swafford said. "He probably had another heart attack following our score tonight."