By Joe Davidson
Bryce Pressley is about as kind and considerate of a young man as you'll meet in the regional high school sporting scene this academic year.
On a regular basis, Jesuit Marauders coach Greg Harcos pleads for the 6-foot-3 senior guard to transform that sure smile to a sneer and snarl - and for his game to match. Play with fury, in other words.
Message received, coach.
Pressley nearly recorded a unique triple double on Wednesday night at Power Balance Pavilion, scoring 22 points to go with nine rebounds and nine blocked shots, and he was surrounded by waves of player support to lift No. 2-seeded Jesuit over Delta River League rival and No. 6 Pleasant Grove 64-62 in a Sac-Joaquin Section Division I semifinal.
Pressley is the son of former Kings first-round pick Harold Pressley, who ran this very NBA floor a generation ago, and who reminds son to play with extra passion, too.
"He's gotten nasty the second half of the season," Harcos said. "The way he's going to the basket, the way he's guarding the other team's best player. He's got a chip on his shoulder. He's woken up, unleashed."
Parker Uu has played at a steady-to-spectacular pace all season, though Harcos also challenges that senior guard to be even better, to strive for more. Uu had 18 points and eigth rebounds.
In short, Jesuit has star power in Pressley and Uu, both fine students and intriguing recruit prospects, and a terrific supporting crew that includes Akachi Okugo, Lake Lutes, Brian Glodowski, Kurt Parker, Tom Sperbeck and J.T. Frank. Parker had a nifty assist late to Pressley that made for some valued breathing room. Jesuit's senior-dominated group now takes on a junior-dominated crew in Sheldon on Saturday in a DRL section-title rematch.
Down the stretch against Pleasant Grove, Sperbeck, Okuogo, Uu and Pressley all had baskets. A Colfax Nordquist free throw and Cody Demps jumper as time expired kept Pleasant Grove in it until the end, per the norm when the DRL heavies face off.
Malik Thames had 19 for Pleasant Grove, Nordquist 17, Matt Hayes 11 and Demps 10. The Eagles still advance to the NorCal tournament next week for the first time.
Jesuit is in the large-school section finals for the ninth time overall, and it is in a section championship - D-I or D-II - for the 14th time. The Marauders seek a ninth overall championship.
For senior leaders like Pressley, the time is now.
"I know this is my senior year and this is our last shot at a state-title run - there's no next year," Pressley said. "Coach has told me to be aggressive, to be me, do whatever I can to help us."
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