HAYWARD, Calif. – In a showcase game full of long-range three-point shooting, slams and jams and alley-oops, the 13th Annual NorCal Clash pitted the Northern California boys basketball stars of the junior class of 2024 against the 2023 senior class stars. The underclassmen stayed close early on, but they had no answer for the onslaught of the upperclassmen in a 126-79 victory by the seniors.
Derek Sangster, a 6-7 forward from Archbishop Mitty, was the choice of the attending media as the game’s Most Valuable Player after registering game-highs of 25 points and eight rebounds. Not only did Sangster produce the game's top stats, the Princeton-bound forward was the physically most dominant player on the court. Sangster had his share of highlight reel dunks, but also was a force on defense, a rarity in a game of this type, and that caught everyone’s attention.
“He’s the only one out there playing defense and physically asserting himself,” said event promoter and NorCal’s top college scout and analyst Gerry Freitas.
“He went after it,” added Bellarmine head coach Patrick Schneider, who led the Class of 2023 team, with regards to Sangster, a player he will be facing in West Catholic Athletic League action this season.
Sangster admitted to making changes in his game to adopt a more physical approach.
“Being aggressive wasn’t always in my game but I’ve developed it and incorporated it into my game now,” remarked Sangster.
Two other seniors garnered some attention as potential MVP’s - 6-8 Granada forward Tyler Harris and 6-4 Monterey Trail sharpshooting guard Varick Lewis.
Harris finished with 20 points and six rebounds and was 9-of-10 from the field and made his only three-point shot. Lewis connected on 4-of-6 from outside the arc and finished with 22 points.
The game was tied 10-10 before the seniors went on a 22-5 run to take a 32-15 lead after one quarter. From there the juniors had a spurt and cut it to 61-51, but that was as close as they would get after the seniors took over to lead 57-32 at the half and 89-50 after three quarters.
Several other seniors showed some game for a summer showcase event. Jayden Teat, a 6-2 guard from Capital Christian, was 4-of-8 from outside the arc and finished with 18 points. Ryan Beasley, a 5-10 guard from Dougherty Valley, made two NBA-range three-pointers and had 16 points on 4-of-7 from outside the arc. He also had six rebounds, and five assists. St. Mary’s-bound Andrew McKeever, a 7-footer from Granada, had 11 points and six rebounds.
Despite taking a lopsided loss, the juniors had some players that showed well. Zion Sensley, a long 6-8 wing from Prolific Prep, made three high arcing three-pointers and finished 19 points and six rebounds. Pinole Valley 6-5 forward Zion Wilburn finished with 13 points and five rebounds, and scrappy guard Kevin Haupt of Jesuit added 10 points.
During the postgame interview Sangster wanted to talk more about the team and its goals than this season than his potential future at Princeton.
Last season Mitty was favored to win the Central Coast Section Open Division title after winning the West Catholic Athletic League at 13-1, but they lost to Riordan in the title game in Santa Cruz, and then lost in the first round of the state CIF NorCals to Modesto Christian.
“Obviously winning WCAL is first, but we fell short when we lost to Riordan in CCS so we have some unfinished business,” Sangster said. “Then the overall goal is state.”
“Princeton will give me the ability to play at a high level while preparing me for a career after basketball,” said Sangster, who carries a 4.0 GPA.
A special shout out goes to Steve Filios. The retired Assistant Commissioner of the CCS, and former St. Francis-Mountain View head coach who guided the Lancers to the 1995 state CIF Division II state championship when they upset Dominguez-Compton, 73-65, was back on the bench assisting Schneider.