Grizzlies can’t hang on, lose to No. 1 Sheldon

Granite Bay will be host in NorCal first round
By: Bill Poindexter/Roseville Press Tribune Sports Editor
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SACRAMENTO – Sheldon High School spent the nonleague portion of this high school basketball season traveling all over the United States, playing in tournaments in Santa Monica, New Orleans and Kentucky. The Huskies played teams from Philadelphia, Alabama, Kentucky and Louisiana.

And Granite Bay had both hands around Sheldon’s neck Tuesday night in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I semifinals at Power Balance Pavilion.

Trouble is, 6-foot-7 Darius Nelson has a mighty thick neck.

The top-seeded Huskies (22-7) used every second of the second half to gradually break free of the Grizzlies’ grasp, and Nelson’s tip-in with less than a second left in overtime gave Sheldon a 67-66 victory. Nelson scored 28 of his game-high 37 points in the second half. He shot 16 for 28 from the field and had 10 rebounds.

“We played as hard as we could and gave it everything we had, and unfortunately, it just wasn’t enough,” Granite Bay coach Jason Sitterud said. “That shot went in at point eight, point five. To be point five away from winning that game just kills you. I don’t know what to say.”

Fourth-seeded Granite Bay (26-4) beat Sheldon up and down the floor in the first half, banged bodies with the big Huskies underneath and got in their faces on defense. The result was a 32-17 halftime lead during which the Grizzlies shot 54 percent from the field to Sheldon’s 30 percent and limited their turnovers to four while the Huskies committed 11.

The Grizzlies held on and took a 49-36 lead into the final period, and then Nelson took over. He made the first three baskets of the quarter, and Armani Hampton converted a turnover into a basket to narrow the Grizzlies’ lead to 51-46 with 4:18 remaining.

The powerful Nelson, who will play in college at the University of Texas El Paso, injured an ankle a minute later and briefly left the game. He returned and made two baskets, the second of which left Granite Bay with a 55-51 lead with 1:26 remaining.

The Grizzlies had several chances to build their lead but made just 3 of 9 free throws in the final 1:21. Pepperdine-bound Ramon Eaton made them pay. The 6-8 cousin of Nelson scored seven of his 13 points in the final 48.8 seconds on a put-back, three free throws and an overtime-forcing tip-in of a Nelson miss just before the regulation buzzer.

Jon Davis fouling out late in the fourth quarter – with 17 points – didn’t help Granite Bay, which committed 19 turnovers in the second half.

“They went to that 3-2 zone, and they’re so long, and we really struggled seeing it through, especially when Jon went out,” Sitterud said. “Jon does a great job in the high post because he attacked them there. Once he went out, we struggled a little bit.”

Granite Bay lost leading scorer Robert Duncan on the first possession of overtime when an official called him for a charge on Nelson near the hoop. Duncan left with 21 points and five steals. To that point, he impressed the big crowd with his handling ability running the open floor, and he made several tricky shots around the hoop.

Even without their top two scorers, the Grizzlies forged ahead in overtime. Nate Brillington, the hero of Granite Bay’s win over Woodcreek in their second Sierra Foothill League clash, scored seven of his eight points in the extra session, including a three-pointer and two free throws that gave the Grizzlies a 66-63 lead with 54.8 seconds remaining.

“That’s commendable to the other guys who stepped up and made plays,” Sitterud said. “Nate stepped up and made some huge shots. That’s the way he’s done all year. That was tremendous.”

A bucket by Nelson made it 66-65, and after a Granite Bay turnover, the Huskies had the ball out of bounds under their basket – and right next to their fans – with 8.3 seconds left. The Grizzlies denied Nelson, but Sheldon got off a shot that missed and bounced up around the rim. It was tipped twice before Nelson tapped it in, sending Sheldon’s fans into an eruption of celebration.

Sheldon went on to beat third-seeded Jesuit in the final Saturday.

Granite Bay’s first playoff game at the local NBA arena didn’t go the way it hoped, but the Grizzlies still qualified for the NorCal Regional playoffs next week. Pairings were be announced Sunday, and Granite Bay drew a No. 7 seed and will play host to No. 10 McClymonds (17-14) of Oakland at 7 p.m. Tuesday. The winner will travel to Concord on Thursday to meet De La Salle (24-5) at 7 p.m.

“The kids played great. They fought the whole time. They believed they could win. They played like it,” Sitterud said. “We keep playing, which is nice. Hopefully, we get back here.”

Sheldon 67, Granite Bay 66 (OT)
Granite Bay (66)

Howarth 1-2 0-0 2, Duncan 8-16 4-7 21, Davis 7-13 3-4 17, Keys 4-7 1-4 9, Brillington 1-5 5-6 8, Lawson 0-0 0-0 0, Ramirez 2-3 1-1 6, Arai 1-5 1-2 3. Totals 24-51 15-24 66.
Sheldon (67)
Nelson 16-28 3-8 37, Hampton 3-11 0-0 7, Eaton 5-12 3-6 13, Williams 0-5 3-4 3, Allen 1-4 0-2 2, Simmons 0-0 0-0 0, Haney 1-2 0-0 3, Manning 1-2 0-1 2. Totals 27-64 9-21 67.

Granite Bay   15  17  17    9  8 – 66
Sheldon          8    9  19  22  9 – 67

Three-point goals – Granite Bay 3-12 (Brillington 1-1, Ramirez 1-2, Duncan 1-6, Howarth 0-1, Keys 0-1, Davis 0-1), Sheldon 4-15 (Nelson 2-7, Haney 1-2, Hampton 1-5, Allen 0-1). Total fouls – Granite Bay 23, Sheldon 23. Fouled out – Davis, Duncan. Rebounds – Granite Bay 33 (Howarth 7), Sheldon 42 (Nelson, Eaton 10). Assists – Granite Bay 6 (Brillington 3), Sheldon 7 (Allen 2). Steals – Granite Bay 10 (Duncan 5), Sheldon 5 (Eaton 2). Blocked shots – Granite Bay 1 (Keys), Sheldon 2 (Williams, Allen). Turnovers – Granite Bay 23, Sheldon 23.