Joe Davidson

High school hoops ready for grand finale at Sleep Train Arena

Elk Grove's Maddie Wong says state championship quest is a 'dream come true'

Maddie Wong, the all-time leading career scorer for Elk Grove High School girls basketball, says the discipline instilled in the Thundering Herd by coach Larry Price has been one of the keys to success that has put the team into the state Division
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Maddie Wong, the all-time leading career scorer for Elk Grove High School girls basketball, says the discipline instilled in the Thundering Herd by coach Larry Price has been one of the keys to success that has put the team into the state Division

An exhausting high school basketball season will end at Sleep Train Arena this week, with just enough adrenaline for a final kick.

And the action will be televised, though fans might do themselves a favor by attending to watch athletes who appreciate the game, their teammates, their coaches and their moment without berating referees like many pros on the same court.

Comcast SportsNet California will provide live coverage of this week’s CIF State Boys and Girls Championships on Thursday and Saturday at Sleep Train, adding luster and complementing the big-time feel that goes with playing in a professional venue.

The Kings will host the Phoenix Suns on Friday, prompting the unusual Thursday schedule. Sleep Train is closing for basketball service after this season, though Golden 1 Center downtown could become a suitor. The Kings have long enjoyed having the high school title rounds in their building.

The CIF schedule includes St. Francis against nine-time state champion Brea Olinda in the girls Division I contest at 6 p.m. Thursday and Elk Grove against Cajon of San Bernardino in the girls Division II final at 2 p.m. Saturday. Those are the only local teams vying for state honors.

“Go girls!” Elk Grove junior guard Mira Shulman said in sizing up the strength of regional girls hoops after her team edged Sacramento for the Northern California title Saturday.

The season grand finale is a whopper.

In the Open Division boys final at 8 p.m. Saturday, De La Salle of Concord, known for its ferocious and fundamental defense, will face national No. 1 Chino Hills, which plays at warp speed and often surpasses 100 points.

33-0 Record of the Chino Hills boys basketball team, ranked No. 1 nationally

When high school players wonder why they’re not getting scholarship looks, they should take a gander at the athletes for these heavyweight programs. These guys are bigger, leaner and more skilled than most.

Chino Hills ( 33-0) cruised past state No. 2 Bishop Montgomery of Torrance 84-62 in front of an announced sellout crowd of 4,556 at the Pyramid in Long Beach. Fans paid $10 just to get inside and stand and sweat to say they were there.

UCLA-bound Lonzo Ball, a 6-foot-6 guard deemed the best player in the land, had 13 points, 15 rebounds, 10 assists and seven steals for Chino Hills, a public school standing tall in an era when so many are lost in the shadows of private school powerhouses.

Chino Hills is a big draw, a big deal. The Huskies could draw the biggest crowd to Sleep Train for a high school game since Jason Kidd’s prep finale in 1992.

Kidd was a guard built like a man in his younger days. He led St. Joseph of Alameda to the Division I title over Mater Dei of Santa Ana, dazzling an announced crowd of 15,788 with his passing and scoring. He fired 30-foot bounce passes, and he dunked. He had 28 points and nine rebounds while battling the flu in a 59-37 rout of Mater Dei.

Ball has eclipsed Kidd’s state career record for assists with more than 1,300, according to Cal-Hi Sports.

Elk Grove High School girls basketball stars Paiton Demps, Madison Wong and Mira Shulman break down their championship footwear and their 46-45 NorCal Division II championship win over Sacramento High Dragons.

17 Strikeouts by Placer pitcher Radd Thomas in six innings against Colfax

Fans may bemoan the $16 general admission tickets for these title games, but the CIF hasn’t raised prices in years, and that ticket allows them to watch as many games as they can bear Thursday or Saturday.

Boras time – California doesn’t have a state championship for high school baseball – the season would run well into mid-June otherwise – but there is the Boras Baseball Classic. That event, created by Elk Grove High graduate and high-profile player agent Scott Boras, is deemed the de facto state championship. The 32-team tournament started Monday.

The 16-team Northern California field competes through Thursday at the McAuliffe Fields next to Sacramento State. The North champion will face the South champion on May 7 at Cal.

Elk Grove won the event in 2014, and Saint Francis of Mountain View took the title last season. Joining those teams in the North field is Oak Ridge, which beat Bee No. 1 Elk Grove 2-1 Friday at Sacramento City College.

Tournament brackets can be found at borasclassic.com.

Radd effort – Pitching before four major-league scouts, including one from the Giants, Radd Thomas of host Placer struck out 17 in six innings to beat Colfax 4-0 Thursday in a Pioneer Valley League game. With a fastball in the low 90s, Thomas allowed two hits.

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