Anyone who had their doubts about the quality of small-school boys basketball should have stopped by Mesa Verde High School Friday night.
In a showdown of Golden Empire League unbeatens and 15-game winners, private school power Capital Christian and Mesa Verde's neighborhood kids from Citrus Heights put on an entertaining show that was as fast, furious and physical as anything seen at the big-school level.
In the end, Capital Christian's superior size and quickness proved impossible for the Mavericks to overcome as the Cougars, ranked No. 4 by The Bee, prevailed 65-53.
But Mesa Verde's Patrick Pavelchik, one of the area's gems, coached up his players well as the Mavericks stayed close through most of the game.
Roman Zazhitskiy's two-footer off an assist from Bret Lynch cut Capital Christian's lead to four points, 54-50 with 4:30 to play. But Nifae Lealao sandwiched a pair of baskets around a Justice Shelton-Mosely breakaway to help the Cougars finally pull away.
Lealao, the 6-foot-6, 275-pound post and a major college football recruit, dominated around the basket in finishing with a game-high 22 points on 10 of 18 shooting from the floor.
Junior guard Tyler Jennings added 12 points and 6-8 junior D.J. Wilson and 6-6, 245-pound sophomore Trey Belton each had eight for the Cougars (16-2, 4-0).
Lynch, a sophomore, led Mesa Verde (15-6, 3-1) with 14 points. Zazhitskkiy added 13, Jordan Marques 10 and Ja Quan Deary and Tyler Naso eight each.
In other games involving boys Top 20 teams reported to The Bee:
NO. 1 SHELDON 57, NO. 16 OAK RIDGE 39 - With the Delta River League game tied 24-24 at the half, the Huskies (14-4, 4-0) outscored the Trojans (12-9, 2-2) 20-6 in the third quarter, thanks to three three-pointers by Darin Johnson and another trey by Jalen Hicks.
The host Huskies played without Dakarai Allen (eye) and without coach Joey Rollings in the final three quarters after he was ejected. Rollings disputed a call, was hit with a technical foul, turned away and yanked off his sports coat, which irritated the referee enough to assess a second technical.
D'Erryl Williams had eight points and 13 rebounds, Antonio Lewis 13 points, 11 rebounds and three steals and Johnson had 23 points and six rebounds.
Sheldon, ranked No. 3 in NorCal by MaxPreps, plays host to No. 5 Deer Valley tonight.
KENNEDY 66, NO. 2 SACRAMENTO 59 - Freshman Cole Taira's 14 points helped the unranked Cougars (11-7, 6-0) produce the upset over the Dragons (13-5, 5-1) in the Metro Conference battle for first place in Greenhaven. James Hadnot led Sac High with 20 points.
NO. 3 PLEASANT GROVE 63, NO. 17 JESUIT 48 - Matt Hayes had 19 points, Malik Thames 17 and Cole Nordquist 16 as the Eagles (17-3, 4-0) defeated the Marauders (10-11, 1-3) in a Delta River League game in Elk Grove. Lake Lutes led Jesuit with 23 points.
NO. 5 ANTELOPE 72, MIRA LOMA 45 - Gabe Bealer had 22 points, Rahard Thornhill 19 and Isaiah Ellis 16 as the Titans (13-6, 3-0) coasted past the Matadors (6-14, 0-3) in the Capital Athletic League game at Mira Loma.
NO. 11 BURBANK 76, MCCLATCHY 59 - David Straughter had 24 points and 15 rebounds and Jalen Coates added 21 points and three steals as the Titans (13-6, 5-1) topped the Lions (8-11, 2-4) in the Metro Conference game.
NO. 13 DAVIS 96, MONTEREY TRAIL 91 in overtime - Using their uptempo System, the Blue Devils (13-7, 3-1) outscored the Mustangs 17-12 in the overtime period to prevail in the Delta Valley Conference game. Hayden Russell had 22 points and Kevin Sorenson 22 for Davis. Leondre Lintz had 35 points and Brian Jackson 22 for Monterey Trail (9-12, 0-4).
LAGUNA CREEK 67, NO. 14 GRANT 66 - Malik Pope hit a three-pointer with 36 seconds to go and Grant missed a putback at the buzzer as the Cardinals (11-10, 2-2) rallied from 10 points down at the start of the fourth quarter to shock the Pacers (13-7, 2-2) in a Delta Valley Conference game in Elk Grove. Andre Lewis had 24 points and eight rebounds, Ledarius Nguyen 15 points, Pope 12 points and 12 rebounds and Jericho Avery seven points, 10 rebounds and five assists to lead Laguna Creek. De'Sean Parsons had 27 points for Grant.