High-flying Sacramento routs Del Oro to win D-III title

Tapley scores game-high 24 to lead top seed Dragons
By: Eric J. Gourley, Journal Sports Writer
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SACRAMENTO — Chase Tapley, Travon Abraham and Alonzo Brown shot the lights out at Arco Arena — literally. The Sacramento High trio combined for 48 points on 60 percent shooting (21-for-35) to lead the top-seeded Dragons to a 71-44 win over No. 2 Del Oro in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III championship Friday night. In another stellar playoff performance, Tapley padded his game-high 24 points as half of the overhead lights suddenly went dim with 1:39 left in the game. “We just shot the lights out, baby,” Michael Henderson yelled to Tapley, the starting point guard from the Dragons’ Division III Northern California championship team who will play at San Diego State next year. Sacramento shot 50 percent (28-for-56) for the game. The Golden Eagles finished a poor 32 percent (16 of 50) in their first section championship appearance since 1998. While many of Tapley’s teammates maintained the high percentage thanks to their play around the rim, the senior star swished three tough jumpers in the first half as the Dragons (24-6) built a 37-19 halftime lead. Del Oro guard Spencer Butterfield made his first three shots in the third quarter after a quiet first half to jumpstart a spirited run. Point guard Brian Rowe’s layup late in the quarter capped the 19-10 spurt and reduced the deficit to single digits, 47-38, but that’s as close as the Eagles (22-8) would get. “We thought we had them,” said Butterfield, who scored 14 of his team-high 19 on 7-for-10 shooting in the second half. “We were just nervous. The first half we were coughing the ball up a little too much. Then we held onto it and made a run. You just have to find it inside you and leave it all on the court when you come to Arco.” While the Eagles did take care of the basketball in the second half after committing 11 of their 15 turnovers in the first, it was their rebounding deficiency that allowed Sacramento to recapture the momentum. “We did a good job of hitting them initially in the block out, but then we started to take off and didn’t finish,” head coach Geoff Broyles said. “That hurt us, especially when we were making the run. We made a run and they’d get an offensive putback, and then we’d make a little run and they got an offensive putback. That made it difficult.” Del Oro grabbed only six boards in the final 16 minutes and the Dragons outrebounded the Eagles 45-23. Brown and Tapley pulled down nine rebounds apiece for Sacramento, which took full advantage of its supreme height edge. “It’s especially difficult when they have that leaping ability,” said John Root, Del Oro’s tallest player at 6-foot-5. “It’s even more difficult because of their quickness. Somehow they’re able to come from the outside. We didn’t box out well. They got way too many boards.” Butterfield led the Eagles with eight rebounds. “Their jumping ability was amazing,” he said. “They would just sky over us every time. Every person on that court could outrebound us.” Nico Ruiz scored seven of his nine in the first half for the Eagles, who alongside the Dragons will open the CIF Northern California Regional tournament Tuesday. “It’s a nice feeling knowing that we can get back to work on Monday,” Broyles said. “Our kids’ goal is to see how far we can go, so they’re going to be ready on Tuesday. I imagine we’re going to be traveling to the Bay Area somewhere, so we’re going to play as hard as we can and hope for good things.” First-round winners play again Thursday with a return to Arco for next Saturday’s NorCal Championships on the line. “We definitely have to get it done on the road,” Root said. “We have to show what we’re really made of. We’re not just a pushover. We’re not how we played out here tonight. We’re going to show people what we can really do and hopefully get back here.”