There’s no shame losing to a program with this résumé, one dotted with remarkable success and championship hardware to fill the most hearty of old school buses.
Folsom High School earned the top seed in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I playoffs mostly because of its season-opening victory over Modesto Christian, during Thanksgiving weekend in the Prep2Prep Tip-Off Classic in Livermore. The rematch Saturday night at Sleep Train Arena didn’t come down to the wire like the first bout.
Folsom was stalled by foul trouble, and especially the size, skill and hunger of the Crusaders, a superbly coached bunch that has made a habit of winning blue banners.
Modesto Christian prevailed 61-45 to avenge its lone loss of a 30-1 season in claiming the program’s 18th title in 20 seasons, spanning different divisions. Folsom came in 7-0 in section-title games, but it had its three-peat hopes thwarted amid a flurry of whistles as energizer Jared Wall fouled out when the game was still competitive and four others battled foul trouble. There was little flow and pace to the game, which irritated both teams and fans.
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Jordan Ford, The Bee’s two-time Bee Player of the Year, had 19 points but just five in the second half. He was the only Bulldogs to reach double figures. The senior point guard earned the game’s Section Sportsmanship Award for Folsom, and Christian Ellis did the same for Modesto Christian.
Robinson Idehen, 6-foot-10 of length and intensity, had 18 points, 13 rebounds and five blocked shots for Modesto Christian. Jay Chen had 14 points, Darrian Grays 11.
Both teams will continue their seasons. They will be placed into the prestigious, Northern California Open Division during a seedings meeting Sunday. The intent is to place the top eight teams in NorCal into this elite bracket.
But Folsom (27-4) qualifies as a regular NorCal playoff team, as does Sheldon and Sacramento. That would make for a record haul from the Sac-Joaquin Section.
Modesto Christian could earn the top NorCal Open seed, or it could be Concord’s De La Salle. Folsom will be a lower seed, meaning road games. But Folsom players vow they’ll be ready. The Bulldogs don’t expect to shoot 30 percent again as they made 18 of 60 shots against the bigger Crusaders, who shot 53 percent (21 for 39).
St. Mary’s 94, St. Francis 58 – Top ranked in the country, the Rams of Stockton strolled past the Troubadours to win their ongoing section record 17th title, including ninth in a row, spanning different divisions. Kat Tudor led six players in double figures with 14 points. Jackie Koerwitz had 15 points for St. Francis, Tia Hay had 13 and Lauren Craig had 12 points and 11 rebounds.
St. Francis was coming off a strong effort in beating Oak Ridge in a semifinal. St. Francis and Oak Ridge could land top-three seeds in the NorCal D-I playoffs that will be determined Sunday. St. Mary’s will be the top seed for the second consecutive season in the Open division. The Rams seek their 11th NorCal title.