The Sacramento Adventist High boys basketball team took the floor for Tuesday’s CIF State Northern California Division VI final wearing shirts with “6” printed on the back.
One of the top-ranked Division VI teams in the state for much of the season, the sixth-seeded Capitals felt slighted by the regional seeding committee.
So, they embraced the low seed — and life on the road — channeling their frustration into a historic postseason run.
After gassing out in a Sac-Joaquin Section final loss to Ripon Christian, the Capitals led wire-to-wire and silenced the top-seeded Knights on their home floor, 57-47.
“We were not pleased with our six seed. We were the No. 1-ranked team in California for two months,” said coach Scott Tedmon, shortly after holding up six fingers mockingly for a throng of cameras. “When they gave us the sixth seed, it was, ‘That’s fine. It’s just a number. We’ll embrace it and take it out on our opponents.’
“We respect everybody we play, but we fear nobody. We put it on the court and now we’re NorCal champions."
Shane Jones scored 12 of his 15 points in the first half and Griffin Trull knocked down seven free throws in the fourth quarter as Sac Adventist (28-5) completed its revenge tour.
Trull finished with 17 points, while the Collins twins, Bryson and Jamison, combined for 14.
What a difference a week makes.
Ripon Christian (21-10) captured its first section title in 22 years with a 59-51 victory over the Capitals at the University of the Pacific. In that game, Sac Adventist went cold in the final four minutes.
On Tuesday, the Capitals outgunned the Knights from beyond the 3-point line (7-2), made nearly as many free throws (14) as the Knights attempted (15), and kept possessions alive in the second half with six offensive rebounds.
“This is where we wanted to be,“ Tedmon said. "We knew we could defend, we knew we could rebound better than we did in the section championship game, and at the end of the day we can shoot the basketball. Tonight, we shot the ball the way we’re capable of."
The Knights sat in stunned silence as the Capitals received their CIF plaque.
After storming through the first two rounds of the regional tournament, Ripon Christian went cold. The Capitals hounded the post, daring the Knights to engage them in a 3-point shooting contest.
Ripon Christian’s leading scorer, Andrew Vander Weide, was held in check. The 6-foot-7 senior had just six points and was held scoreless over the final 14 minutes, 49 seconds.
The Knights were paced by Cade Alger, who had 20 points. Alger scored 11 of the team’s 13 fourth-quarter points, including a 3-pointer from the top of the arc to cut the Capitals’ lead to seven, 52-45, with 30 seconds left.
With chants of “MVP! MVP!” streaming out of the visitor’s stands, Trull knocked down two free throws to seal the win.
Ripon Christian coach Mark Hofman pulled his seniors with 20 seconds left, conceding defeat to the run-and-gun Capitals.
The Knights had been 3-0 in regional finals.
“Their guards controlled the game and they shot very well,” Hofman said. "They shot the lights out. If you make shots like that, you’re going to win.
“We didn’t shoot well, and you saw a lot of loose balls that didn’t go our way. They were getting offensive rebounds tonight, and we need to outrebound teams to win."
Jones was a difference-maker early for the Capitals, who scored the first six points of the game and led by as many as 11 in the first half.
A crafty, fleet-footed guard, Jones slithered his way into the lane, where he finished remarkably among Ripon Christian’s giants. He scored eight straight points, and then set up Bryce Beamon’s 3-pointer with a drive-and-kick pass.
Beamon had three 3s and finished with 11 points.
“We knew we could dribble-penetrate on them from looking at the film over and over and over again,” Tedmon said. "So we wanted to spread the floor and isolate the matchups, and Shane was the guy who was able to find the matchups. We just kept going to him until they could stop it."
Trull didn’t get going until late in the first half. He capped the first quarter with a step-back jumper from the free throw line and then buried a corner 3 with the Knights’ student section right on top of him.
Sac Adventist led by as many as 12 in the second half, and checked its final box -- NorCal championship, check -- despite going 5:44 without a field goal in the fourth quarter.
"We started this in May. We put it on the board: league champion, section champion, NorCal champions,” Tedmon said. “We didn’t hide from it. We ran to it.
"They got us in the section title game. They deserved it; credit to them. But we’re the NorCal champs and the best team in California in Division IV. Mark that down."