Sleep Train Arena hosted the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I and II Boys Basketball semi-finals with plenty of talented prospects on hand. Sheldon started off the night by punching its ticket to another section final, but it was De'Sean Parsons and Grant that stole the show with an upset win over Sacramento.
After falling behind 16-10 after the first quarter, Grant went on a 10-0 run to start the second quarter to take a 20-16 lead over top seeded Sacramento. In a seesaw game the rest of the way, Grant was able to make enough plays and 6-foot-6 senior De'Sean Parsons went for 26 points and seven rebounds. Sacramento got 23 points from Joe Barnes, including 18 points in the second half, and James Hadnot had 20 points and 14 rebounds. The Dragons also got a good boost from freshman Jermaine Henderson in the second half, but they struggled to get their rotation and offense sets going throughout the night.
Parsons, one of the top sleepers in Northern California, was the difference down the stretch, including collecting the ball on an outlet pass and finishing with an and one dunk. He also had an offensive rebound put back and a power right hand drive from the free throw line. Overall, he has good length, can handle it some, is a nice finisher inside and an active defender at the top of the Pacers' defense.
Barnes, a 6-foot-3 forward, was aggressive attacking the basket and working well from the free throw line and down. He finished 9-for-18 from the field, was able to get to the free throw line and had seven rebounds. Barnes has the frame to transition to the next level, but what position he plays is the question. This was the most productive we have seen Barnes in four viewings this year.
Hadnot is another unsigned senior for the Dragons who went for a double-double. He is more agile than he has shown in past years, but struggles to find a position going forward. Hadnot was active on the glass and would provide a versatile forward option at the Division II level.
Antelope 55, Rocklin 47
The defending SJS Division II champions used an active defense and 19 first half points from Isaiah Ellis and Gabe Bealer to jump out to an 18 point lead. The Titans were able to withstand a couple of Rocklin runs and a bad fourth quarter offensively (eight points and 6-for-17 from the free throw line) to hold on for the eight point win. The difference was the steady hand of senior Tyler Winston, who will play football at San Jose State next year. The senior had 11 points, five rebounds and four assists on 5-for-11 shooting in having control of the flow of the game, a decent mid-range jumper and good defense on Rocklin's Devin Moss.
Ellis finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds in also being a defensive presence and stepping out on the perimeter with Rocklin's guards. He is a bit of a tweener projecting forward with limited outside offense, but he showed himself to be an active athlete on Wednesday. Bealer, the scoring catalyst throughout the season, went just 4-for-12 in finishing with 13 points. He is a smooth athlete in the open floor and is an accomplished shooter, though he only attempted two threes. He is one of the top small forwards available for the 2013 class in Northern California.
Rocklin's 6-foot-7 senior Hayden Cook also had a double-double of 17 points and 11 rebounds. He is agile inside and scored in multiple ways for the Thunder, which had only one other player in double figures. He missed a number of close in looks, but can be a project for a local JUCO next year.
Pleasant Grove 68, Bella Vista 60
Pleasant Grove came out slow and Bella Vista's execution put them in a three point hole at the half. The Broncos never let the Eagles get too far ahead, but in the end, the play of Pleasant Grove point guard Malik Thames was the difference. The unsigned senior had 23 points on 9-for-15 shooting in consistently getting to his spots on the floor. He showed good late burst to finish inside and also possesses a nice mid-range game. Outside of Aaron Gordon, he is the top rated player unsigned in the 2013 class.
Fellow senior Matt Hayes had a slow start, but finished with a flurry to tally 16 points on four made threes. He had three triples in the fourth quarter to help the Eagles gain control on this semi-final contest. Hayes is one of the top shooters in the area and helps form a hard to match up with backcourt at Pleasant Grove. Also making headlines was watch list sophomore Marquese Chriss, who went for 10 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks in 15 minutes (due to foul trouble). Chriss has the production and potential to be a very talented recruit.
Bella Vista came in as a clear underdog, but posed plenty of problems for Pleasant Grove. The Broncos were able to execute their offense and get good jump shot looks against an aggressive Pleasant Grove defense. Tyler Berkness had 24 points on 10-for-15 shooting in continually getting key buckets for Bella Vista throughout the night.
Sheldon 86, Bethel 72
Sheldon has 18 assists on 24 first half baskets and rolled to an 86-72 semi-final win over Bethel. The Huskies will now go for their fourth straight SJS Division I title on Saturday night against Pleasant Grove. The No. 2 Huskies put forth one of the best passing performances of the year getting out into the open floor and finishing with mostly layups and dunks. They finished at 62 percent shooting.
D'Erryl Williams (San Diego State) played an outstanding all-around game with 25 points, seven rebounds and seven assists on 12-for-13 shooting. He is a physical guard who can create space and absorb contact on his drives. He may be the most valuable player for the Huskies in the way he can change his game depending on how teams play Sheldon and who has the hot hand.
With Washington head coach Lorenzo Romar in the first row, Darin Johnson had 22 points on 9-for-13 shooting. He has a tough blend of speed and power off his handle and Bethel had no answer matching up with him in transition. Dakarai Allen (San Diego State) had just eight points, but was very good as a distributor with seven assists. The defense, length and athleticism Allen brings is widely known, but the passing from different spots on the floor makes the Huskies that much tougher to defend.
Other top contributors for the Huskies were unsigned senior forward Ryan Manning, who had 14 points and seven rebounds. He is a face up forward who can stretch defenses and also work a little with his dribble. Fellow senior Antonio Lewis went 7-for-9 for 15 points and seven rebounds. He is the glue guy in a star studded starting lineup.
For Bethel, 6-foot-4 senior Gary Wilson was very active and a quick jumper in grabbing seven rebounds (six offensive) to go along with his 19 points. He had three put back scores off offensive rebounds. Senior Noah Wellington, who had a good summer playing for the Oakland Kings, had 16 points and 11 rebounds as the primary ball handler. His outside game needs work, but he could be a player to watch after some more development.