Editor's Note: Playoff fever has taken hold in Elk Grove, as boys basketball teams from Sheldon and Franklin High Schools prepare to take on tough opponents in Tuesday's Sac-Joaquin Section Division 1 semifinals. Elk Grove Patch asked Laguna Creek High School varsity basketball coach Paul Casey—whose team won't be competing—to call the results of Tuesday's games. See what you think of Coach Casey's predictions, and tell us your own in the comments box below.
Sheldon vs. Granite Bay
A challenging pre-season and a tough league schedule help Sheldon for the playoff run. They are battle-tested and have a confident swagger, and they have experience playing in big venues, such as Arco Arena. Sheldon’s depth of talented players also favors them—just about every player that steps on the floor for Sheldon could potentially play at college level. Size, strength, length, quickness all favor Sheldon.
A solid team concept has helped Granite Bay reach section semifinals. This team did not reach playoffs a year ago. They dedicated themselves to improving, and have done so. They played a strong local pre-season schedule, but do not have anywhere near the experience that Sheldon has. The Delta River League is far superior to the Sierra Foothill League. Woodcreek and Granite Bay (co-champs at 9-1) in the SFL would most likely be .500 teams in either of the Delta Leagues.
Led by the solid play of 6’3” guard Robert Duncan, Granite Bay does a lot of the little things that help teams win. Still, there are a number of questions for Granite Bay: How will Granite Bay react to playing in Arco Arena for the first time? Will they be able to keep Sheldon off the offensive glass? Will they be able to make shots—as they may not get more than one opportunity per offensive trip? When they don’t score, can they transition back on defense quickly enough to stop Sheldon?
Most high school playoff games seem to be determined by rebounding, the ability to make defensive stops, and free throw shooting.
Prediction: These Sheldon kids can play. With their depth, they should wear down Granite Bay by the fourth quarter. Granite Bay’s only chance: get key Sheldon players (Nelson, Williams, Thomas) into foul trouble, have Robert Duncan make some shots early to help the team overcome jitters – and block out, block out, block out. Sheldon by 14 pts plus.
Franklin vs. Jesuit
This is a great match-up that should go down to the wire. Jesuit played a strong pre-season schedule, and has a young team that understands how to play the game. Most often, they make great basketball decisions. They always play hard, and are a very well-coached team. Parker Uu is a special player; if he starts hitting shots, he can carry Jesuit to a win.
Franklin: They don’t quit, they compete. These players are not great perimeter shooters or ballhandlers; their best skill is they keep working until they find a way to beat you. They have some very good athletes—Chuks Iroegbu, Theo Johnson, Anthony King and Darin Johnson—great team speed, good length, and they run the floor as well as anyone.
I believe rebounding, free throws, turnovers and which team stays out of foul trouble will determine the outcome of this game. Officiating style is key: Will Jesuit be effective with their full-court pressure or will they get into foul trouble? Will Jesuit be able to get charge calls on Franklin’s drives to basket? Will Theo and Chuks be able to bang around inside on the boards? This should be a great high school basketball game.
Prediction: Franklin gets behind early, but comes back to win a close one in the final minutes.