By Joe Davidson
Arco Arena, Power Balance Pavilion or Sleep Train.
It doesn't matter what you call it, but it's become something of a cozy home away from home for the Antelope Titans. In their third successive season competing in the Kings building, the Titans suddenly feature perhaps their best outfit, a balanced, defensive and unselfish group that seeks a Sac-Joaquin Section Division II repeat.
To that end, second-seeded Antelope beat Rocklin 55-47 in a semifinal Wednesday night, thanks to three quarters of fine defense and the poise to hold off the upset-minded, No. 7-seeded Thunder.
Isaiah Ellis led four Titans teammates in double figures with 14 points and 10 rebounds and he keyed a late surge to hold off Rocklin, which cut it to six early in the fourth on a three-pointer by Hayden Cook (17 points).
Gabe Bealer, Ellis' bruise brother partner inside, had 13 points, Tyler Winston had 11 and Rashard Thornill 10. The fifth Titans starter in Isiah Quintero had four points, four rebounds, four blocked shots and four hard fouls. Antelope, which opened in 2008, has never played Grant.
"I couldn't ask for a better three quarters of defense," Antelope coach Rob Richards said. "Rocklin never gave up and that's a credit to their coach (Casey Cutts). We're experienced. It's our third year here, and though everyone makes a big deal out of seedings and rankings, it still comes down to five teenagers taking on five teenagers."
Rocklin went from a 4-win season last season to a NorCal team this season under Cutts, the first-year coach who grew up in the program and was a key guard for some of the Thunder's power teams of last decade. Vinnie Safin had 10 for Rocklin, which still advances to the NorCal D-II playoffs that start next week.
Bee file photo by Brian Baer: Antelope High School basketball head coach Rob Richards