It’s always a compliment when the opposing coach brings up toxins and lethal things with pained expressions.
In this case, it was Jesuit High School boys basketball coach Jon Rotz, who sized up the Sheldon Huskies’ myriad skills.
“It’s pick your poison with them,” Rotz said Friday night after Sheldon delivered a 74-64 home victory in a battle of Bee top-five rivals to decide early positioning atop the Delta League.
And sure enough, Sheldon was deadly effective in every way.
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It’s pick your poison with them.
Jesuit coach Jon Rotz on the Sheldon Huskies
The third-ranked Huskies (9-4) shared the ball, hit 10 three-pointers, scored on fast breaks, attacked the rim in halfcourt sets and defended. They have lost to one Sac-Joaquin Section team, No. 2 Folsom 79-78 on Dec. 2, and moved to 4-0 in league play.
Six players scored for the Huskies, be it guards, wings or forwards. Selfish and greedy are not in Sheldon’s vocabulary. This is a united, tight team.
Guard Elishja Duplechan had 21 points, forward Matt Manning 20 and guard Devin Greene 14. Guard Isaiah Brooks added 11 points to go with six rebounds and 10 assists after recording a triple double (13, 13, 10) Wednesday in a 92-73 win at Davis.
Drew Cobb and Blake Mason combined for eight points and a lot of defensive muscle, making this one very dangerous and complete outfit.
“When we’re clicking,” Manning said matter-of-factly, “we’re really hard to beat. We can be nails inside and out. We can be really, really good.”
Even great, as the Huskies have been in recent seasons under veteran coach Joey Rollings. He has led the program to four Division I section championships since 2010 and almost won another last season, losing in the closing seconds to Folsom.
This team, Rollings said, can be as great as any of the previous title teams, provided the key elements remain: effort and cohesion.
“I really love our team,” Rollings said. “We fight like pit bulls and don’t care who scores. Guys get on the floor.”
Sheldon is unique in that it can wheel out three starting point guards with Brooks, Duplechan and Greene. Each can shoot the three. Each can drive to the basket. Each can pass, defend and salt games away from the line.
Manning is unique in that he’s a 6-foot-6 flier who can play above the rim and well beyond the three-point arc. He also can rebound and isn’t afraid to get on the floor for a loose ball.
Fourth-ranked Jesuit (12-3, 3-1) trailed 14-4 and 30-20 but kept charging back, a credit to the resolve of the young Marauders and Rotz, a Jesuit guard in the early 1990s now in his first year as head coach after assisting Greg Harcos for a stretch. Harcos is now Jesuit’s athletic director.
I really love our team. We fight like pit bulls and don’t care who scores. Guys get on the floor.
Sheldon coach Joey Rollings
A Manning three gave Sheldon a 61-47 lead with 4:33 to go, and a Duplechan three made it 66-52 with 1:50 to play. Brooks then fed Manning with a nifty assist for a 68-55 advantage with 1:23 to go, and Greene, Duplechan and Brooks put it away by making free throws down the stretch.
Senior forward Malik Duffy scored 19 for Jesuit, inflicting damage inside and out. Senior guard Ethan Pangelinan had 14 and sophomore guard Jake Virga 12. Isaiah Rutherford, a freshman guard, had nine.
Rotz said the Marauders, learning on the fly as young players merge with veterans, have a big upside.
“I love the character of this team, the toughness,” Rotz said. “It’s a great group.”
Rollings said the same of his group, and he’s not cutting them any slack. Sleeping in Saturday morning? Fat chance. Practice is scheduled for 7 a.m.