While it's only summer basketball - where scorebooks aren't kept, games are played to running clocks and player rotations are deep - Sheldon, Christian Brothers and Lincoln came away from the 60-team Sheldon Trail Summer Jam boys basketball tournament this weekend pretty pleased.
Sheldon three-peated as the highest Platinum Division champion, going 8-0 over the three days of the tournament.
In Sunday's divisional finals at Monterey Trail High School, the Huskies beat Rodriguez of Fairfield 72-59, Bay Area power Campolindo of Moraga 56-48 and Delta River League rival Jesuit 61-38 in the semifinals.
The Huskies capped the tourney with a 69-46 win over Christian Brothers.
All of which made Sheldon coach Joey Rollings pretty pleased.
The defending four-time Sac-Joaquin Section Division I champion Huskies are trying to replace 10 graduated seniors, including the entire starting lineup.
But while young and inexperienced, Sheldon remains talented and deep.
Leading the way on Sunday were junior transfers Trey Belton (Capital Christian), a 6-foot-5, 225-pound inside force, and 6-3 leap-frogging Jabbar Brown (Vallejo) and polished sophomore varsity returnees Devin Greene and Ian Miller. In all, Rollings used 16 players.
"We had a good weekend, but we still have a lot to learn," Rollings said. "But it's always fun to win, and it extends the tradition."
Christian Brothers and Lincoln are two teams hoping to create some tradition of their own under young, spirited and savvy coaches.
As Division III programs, both were surprises in reaching the 12-team Platinum Division from competitive pool play on Friday and Saturday.
Christian Brothers beat (65-64) Bay Area behemoth El Cerrito - last March's North Coast Section D-III finalists - and Sierra Foothill League power Del Oro 43-40 to go 4-0 in pool play on Saturday, then topped Drake of San Anselmo 70-64 and rallied to beat Grant 52-50 on Prestin Barnett's coast-to-coast driving layup with less than a second remaining on Sunday.
Lincoln upset defending CIF Division I state champion Pleasant Grove 56-44 and Johansen of Modesto 61-58 in pool play on Saturday and topped Riverbank 55-42 in their first Platinum Division game Sunday.
Then in the semifinals, Lincoln and Christian Brothers played one of the best games of the tournament, with the Falcons prevailing 62-60 in overtime on Matt Vanenburg's falling down, fadeaway near the top of the key with 1.8 seconds.
"That makes basketball a lot of fun when you can finish games like that," said Christian Brothers coach Brian Chavez. "It's still June but this was a huge growing step for us in winning so many close games. It's going to give us a big confidence boost going into November."
Senior point guard Marcus Salgado's 40-foot runner that would have won it for Lincoln hit the back of the rim and bounced out at the buzzer. His long three-pointer with 2.1 seconds left in regulation sent the game into overtime tied 56-56.
Salgado finished with 24 points while Lincoln big men Logan Stayner and Mitch Holt combined for 24 more. Junior Taylor Ross topped CBS with 19 points.
"It's nice to get a chance to show people that we can play because as a small school we're not expected to be up there," said Lincoln coach Rob Ash. "We told the guys that it's summer league, so don't read too much into it. But we're on the right track if we're in the company of Jesuit, Sheldon and Christian Brothers."
Ash said he had friends texting him with congratulations after beating Pleasant Grove on Saturday.
"A lot of the bigger schools don't want to play us, so this is a big opportunity for us," Ash said. "We didn't expect to beat Pleasant Grove. But the nice part with these guys is that they feel they can play with anyone."
Chavez felt the same about his guys, though with one exception - for now.
"They're Sheldon," Chavez said of his team's title-game loss. "They don't stop, and they have a lot of talent. They are the benchmark of where we're trying to get to. I'm glad we got to play them."
Sheldon 69, Christian Brothers 46
El Cerrito 59, River City 49
Monterey Trail 50, Foothill 41
Granada-Livermore 64, Miramonte-Orinda 59
Turlock 56, Vacaville 38