Once sophomore rivals for the same starting point guard job at Capital Christian, Tyler Jennings and Marcelas Perry, now juniors, have become close friends.
But while Jennings has thrived this season for the 22-4 Cougars, it's been a challenging season for Perry, who hasn't played because of a knee injury.
"I can't even imagine what he is going through," said Jennings, who made the All-Golden Empire League first team. "I know that at first he wasn't sure if he wanted to be a part of the team.
"But I've tried to include him in everything because he changes the mood of our locker room when he's around. He loves to have fun. Even with a torn ACL, he'll be dancing and kidding around."
Last year, Perry averaged 6.1 points and 3.8 assists and Jennings 3.8 points and 5.8 assists for a Cougars team that won its first boys Sac-Joaquin Section basketball title.
Jennings, who is averaging 8.9 points and 4.4 assists this season, says Perry has helped him to be a better player.
"He's helped me come out of my shell a little bit," said Jennings, who transferred to Capital Christian after playing his freshman season at Oak Ridge. "Last year, I was more of the old-school point guard who looked to set everybody up first. I'm being more aggressive this year."
Capital Christian coach Devon Jones also is impressed with how Perry, the team's fastest player who can dunk at 5-foot-7, has handled his injury, and can't wait for his return to the team next season when the Cougars will play a much more demanding schedule.
"He's still doing it in the classroom," Jones said. "I think he realizes that the basketball stuff can be taken from you in one play."
No. 2 Capital Christian plays No. 3 Ripon Christian in Wednesday's 7:30 D-V semifinals at Galt High School.