With Erik Kinney dominating the boards late, Sacramento broke open a close game in the fourth quarter to defeat Bakersfield 57-44 to win the inaugural St. Hope Elite Classic gold bracket championship game tonight at Sacramento High School.
Bakersfield had closed to within two points, 40-38, at the end of the third quarter before being outscored 15 to 6 in the fourth quarter of the finale of the 12-team, five-day tournament that featured seven out-of-area teams, including four from Southern California.
Joe Barnes led the Dragons with 14 points and UC Davis scholarship signee Darius Graham added 13. James Hadnot and Aaron Cameron each had nine and Kinney finished with eight, yet dominated nonetheless despite being ill.
Cal-bound Tyrone Wallace led Bakersfield with 22 points.
Sacramento, ranked No. 3 by The Bee, won all four games in the tournament, including 87-76 over Pasadena on Friday in which Kinney, a Cal State Bakersfield recruit, scored 26 points.
"It was great having this tournament," said Graham. "It kind of helps put Northern California on the map because everyone knows about the Southern California teams. But this tournament showed that a team like Pleasant Grove (a 62-60 winner over Pasadena) is good and can play with these teams.
"I think it will be even better next year. They're going to go to 16 teams, and Sheldon and Jesuit are supposed to be in it."