January 31, 2012
Kinney scores 33 as No. 3 Sac topples Burbank Titans tonight

Trying to stop the No. 3 Sacramento High boys basketball team is like playing Whac-A-Mole.

Just when you figure you have one of the No. 3 Dragons' scorers under wraps, another one pops up to fill the basket.

Entering tonight's Metro Conference showdown at No. 7 Burbank, five different Dragons had led or co-led their team in scoring during their first eight Metro Conference games, all wins.

Now make that six.

Sacramento senior forward Erik Kinney dazzled a packed house at Burbank's cozy gym on Florin Road with a 33-point explosion that led the Dragons (17-5, 9-0) to a surprisingly easy 81-71 win over the rival Titans (16-6, 6-3).

Kinney's senior cohort, Darius Graham, had 10 points and the Dragons' junior trio of James Hadnot, De'Von Boyd and Joseph Barnes each added eight.

Senior Mitchell Love led Burbank with 24 points and emerging 6-foot-7 sophomore standout Malik Pope added 14 points and 12 rebounds.

Tonight's result was surprising because the Dragons had eked out a 61-59 win against Burbank in Oak Park on Jan. 6, snapping a two-game losing streak to the Titans, last year's Metro champions.

But the junior-dominated Dragons continue to grow and to improve and is a group that doesn't see the necessity of having a go-to scoring force like in past years.

"That's the problem when people scout us," said Sac High coach Derek Swafford. "We've got eight guys who can get 10 points. Every night we have a different guy that can carry us. Tonight it was Erik."

Did he ever.

The 6-foot-4 wing scored on layups and dunks off pick-and-rolls, hit jumpers and three-point bombs, including one on a runner just before the first half buzzer to put Sacramento up 46-38.

Unlike his previous outing against Burbank - where the Cal State Bakersfield scholarship signee struggled through most of the game but finished strong in the fourth quarter - Kinney was a dynamo from the start as the Dragons led by as many as 22 points early in the fourth quarter.

"He's a strong kid, and he proved it tonight," said Burbank coach Lindsey Ferrell. "He just plays. There's no talking. He just does his job."

The 33 points matches his season high. Kinney scored 33 Dec. 10 in a 71-42 win over Dublin.

But in a tribute to Sac High's tremendous balance this season, Kinney came into the game as the team's scoring leader at a modest 13.6 points.

"Erik can dominate when he keeps it mentally together," Swafford said. "There are times when he's not there, and he knows it. We're working on that. As he grows and matures, he'll get there"

Sacramento, winners of five of the last six Metro Conference titles, now lead No. 12 Kennedy by two games and Burbank by three with five to play.

During that six-year span, Sacramento is 60-3 in Metro games. Make that 60-1 if you toss out last season's two losses to Burbank.

"They proved tonight that they're the better team," Ferrell said. "What we've got to concentrate on now is winning out. Every game now is a playoff so that we can get into the top six."

Burbank plays in Division I; Sac High is in D-II, so there will be no more meetings between the two this season.

About the Prep blog

Bee staff writers Joe Davidson and Bill Paterson provide news, analysis and insight on the area high school sports scene in their Prep Blog. Have a question to ask them? Send them an email any time at jdavidson@sacbee.com or bpaterson@sacbee.com.

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