D’Erryl Wiiliams and Courtney Range shined brightest in a banner year for Sac-Joaquin Section basketball.
All copy by JIM McCUE | photos by JAMES K. LEASH
Sac-Joaquin Male Athlete of the Winter
D’ERRYL WILLIAMS • Sheldon-Sacramento
D’Erryl Williams has always saved his best for last.
The junior guard’s clutch fourth quarter play during the 2011-12 season was symbolic of the Huskies’ unyielding spirit during a postseason run that exceeded the expectations of most observers.
That Williams led the team’s run to a berth in the CIF State Championship game with a junior-dominated roster points to the possibility of even greater things for Sheldon in its last year with Williams at the helm.
While Williams admits the Huskies’ loss to Mater Dei-Santa Ana in the state final was painful, he and his teammates already have their sights set on making a return trip to Power Balance Pavilion for another shot at finishing their 2013 season with a victory.
That Sheldon even reached the state final was a testament to the grit and perseverance of Williams. The versatile 6-foot-3 guard seemingly willed his team to win after win in the postseason despite playing with a dislocated pinky finger on his right hand in the team’s final three games, including a comeback victory over Delta River League rival Jesuit-Carmichael in the NorCal final.
“That game was probably the most memorable of the season,” Williams said of the Huskies erasing a 17-point second-quarter deficit to win. “Coming all the way from behind showed the kind of character that we had.”
Williams led the way, scoring nine points in the final 2:30 of the game, to earn Sheldon the first Division I championship berth for a public school from the Sac Joaquin Section.
Williams says that he plans to work hard on his shot off the dribble to force defenses to play more honest when he has the ball. But the SportStars Winter Athlete of the Year is no one-trick pony running the floor as opposing defenses and offenses will have to be wary of his all-around game in 2013.
“I’ll do whatever I have to do for my team to win,” Williams said. “Whether that means that I need to be a defensive player or if I need to be more aggressive on offense, I will do what it takes to win.”
Now, spectators and college scouts must wait and watch to see how Williams finishes his last season.
THE WILLIAMS FILES
• THE STATS: Averaged 14.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 3.2 assists, and 3.0 steals per game in leading Sheldon (29-6) to Delta River League, Sac Joaquin Section, and NorCal championships.
• SIGNATURE PERFORMANCE: Scored 23 points, including nine in the final 2:30, to lead the Huskies to a come-from-behind 61-56 victory over rival Jesuit in the NorCal final at Power Balance Pavilion.
• FAVORITE PLAYER: Chris Paul. “I like the way that he is a leader out there on the court. He commands everybody and makes sure that everybody knows what they are doing on the floor.”
• COLLEGE PLANS: “I don’t have a particular ‘dream school’ or a short list yet. It depends on the school’s style of play and how I fit in the program.”
Sac-Joaquin Female Athlete of the Winter
COURTNEY RANGE • St. Mary’s-Stockton
Standing over six feet tall, Courtney Range is not the typical point guard.
With a greater field of vision, the St. Mary’s-Stockton junior is able to create on the offensive end of the court like few of her peers can.
Throughout the 2011-12 season, Range initiated the Rams’ high-powered offense in leading the team to a 32-4 record that included a 27-game winning streak. Whether she was slashing through the lane to score baskets, draining long-range jumpers from beyond the arc, or dishing assists to a full complement of capable teammates, Range was the start and often the finish of the Rams’ offense.
“I definitely like to create and make the nice passes to my teammates,” Range said when posed the choice of scoring 30 points in a game, or handing out double digits in assists.
Range’s length and size advantage over opposing point guards also played a key role in St. Mary’s hounding pressure defense that caused numerous foes to record more turnovers than points in a game. In beating McNair 67-42 in the Sac Joaquin Section final, the Rams forced a stunning 47 turnovers. Range led her team with a game-high 25 points as the program captured its 12th Sac-Joaquin Section crown in 14 years.
Despite the continued SJS dominance, the SportStars Female Winter Athlete of the Year focused more on the team coming up short in its attempt to dominate at the state level. The Rams lost a heartbreaking 53-51 decision to Archbishop Mitty-San Jose in the NorCal final, which halted the team’s winning streak and kept them from playing for a fourth straight state championship.
The basketball-crazed Range watched intently as Baylor capped an unprecedented 40-0 season with a national championship riding the theme of “unfinished business” from the previous year’s failure to win it all.
“I am definitely going to go to coach (Tom Gonsalves) and the team and propose that we borrow the ‘unfinished business’ theme from Baylor,” she said. “To me, if we don’t get to state, the whole season is a waste because all the games that you go through would mean nothing without a state title.
“It’s not finished until we win the last game.”
THE RANGE FILES
• THE STATS: Range averaged 14.6 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.1 steals & almost 2 assists per game.
• ALWAYS WORKING: “I plan to work on my shot over the summer. I want to be a more consistent shooter and a clutch three-point shooter.”
• FAVORITE PLAYERS: Kobe Bryant and Derrick Rose. “They are just great players. They can do almost anything on the offensive end.”
• COLLEGE PLANS: “My dream schools would be Baylor or UConn, but I am looking at Pac-12 schools. I like the West Coast and some of the Pac-12 programs are very good. I don’t know if I could handle the cold weather on the East Coast.”
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