By Joe Davidson
How in the free world do you guard these guys?
In short - you don't.
The Sheldon Huskies trot out the most star-studded, versatile and balanced high school boys basketball team in the region. Runners, slashers, jumpers, spot shooters,. Rebounders, stoppers, dunkers. Pick your poison.
Bee No. 1 Sheldon unleashed its full arsenal again Friday night, taking down another formidable outfit in rival and No. 2 Pleasant Grove for a 85-79 victory in a Delta River League thriller in Elk Grove.
Darin Johnson scored 28 points for Sheldon, making 8 of 12 shots, including 3 of 4 from three-point range. The 6-foot-4 senior guard headed for Washington via scholarship has range and can dunk. Dakarai Allen, long and lean at 6-6 and bound for San Diego State, has an inside-outside game and showed it with his 22.
Fellow San Diego State-bound senior D'Erryl Williams, the powerful 6-2 point guard who can post up and defend, had 18 of his 20 in the second half and finished with 10 rebounds and five assists. Antonio Lewis had 10 points and five rebounds, and Ryan Manning, the fifth starter, had five points, 11 rebounds and three blocked shots.
How do you defend this group?
"You can't," Sheldon coach Joey Rolling said. "You'd have to hope we miss shots. We're hard to match up with when we're playing well."
Pleasant Grove (17-4, 4-1) gave Sheldon (16-4, 5-0) all it could handle in suffering its first setback of the new year. The Eagles trailed 10-1 early but rallied. They were down 62-42 late in the third only to see the Eagles climb back in it. Williams, like he has so many times in his career, helped salt it away in the fourth with post-up moves, and Johnson iced it with four consecutive free throws in the final 40 seconds.
Pleasant Grove has lost to two Southern California state powers, Sacramento and here. Guards Malik Thames and Matt Hayes scored 20 and 15 points, respectively, for Pleasant Grove. Shooting forward Cole Nordquist had 19, and 6-6 sophomore post Marquese Chriss had 18.
"They're a tough matchup for anybody," Pleasant Grove coach John DePonte said. "I'm proud of our guys. We battled. Against a team that talented and that deep, we had our opportunities. It's testament to our kids character."
Sheldon is state-ranked No. 3 by Cal-High Sports and has just one in-state loss to two-time defending CIF State Division II champion Mitty of San Jose, a contest in which Johnson and Williams missed.
Sheldon students packed their side of the gym and engaged in dueling chants with the Pleasant Grove side that occupied every seat. It was a clean game that featured teams that have a great deal of respect for each other. A line stretching well in to the parking lot was turned away, it was that full.
"That's the funnest regular-season game I've been a part of," said Williams, The Bee Player of the Year last season. "(Pleasant Grove) is really good. I knew they wouldn't give up. Everyone respects each other and it was a very clean game."
Sheldon plays host to Folsom on Wednesday, at Jesuit on Friday and against NorCal No. 2 Salesian of Richmond in the Bay Area next Saturday.
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