Small school, small gym, big future.
University of Michigan recruit D.J. Wilson brought his long, lithe 6-foot-8 frame and flexible floor game to Day 1 of the MaxPreps Holiday Classic on Thursday night, and his Cathedral Capital (Sacramento) supporting cast seemingly all appeared to have Division-I hoop potential in the Cougars’ 76-34 pulping of Orangewood Academy (Garden Grove).
Played in Rancho Mirage High’s diminutive auxiliary gym, the Open Division contest saw the Cougars claw to a 21-0 lead in the game’s first seven minutes as Capital’s defense wasted no time stating its swarming authority against an overmatched Spartans’ squad.
The win for the Cougars sets up another in-state showdown for Wilson & Co., with Capital advancing to face Beverly Hills High in Rancho Mirage’s main gym at 10 a.m. Friday.
“We’re defense first, and our defense creates our offense,” said Wilson, whose school has a reported enrollment of just about 400 students. “And we know that if we win our first game tomorrow morning, we’ve got a game against Etiwanda for our second game. We’re both ranked highly in the state. They are No. 2 and we’re up there as well, so that’s gonna be a good matchup for us once we win tomorrow.”
Offensively, Capital was led by 22 points from burly, 6-foot-6 forward Nifae Lealao while Wilson complimented his deft passing and defense with 15 points, several of which came on potent, stocking-stuffer dunks.
In the loss, Orangewood received 14 points from senior guard Nguyen Ly, who made four 3-pointers on the night.
“There are great teams from California and then other teams that we’ve played in previous tournaments, so it is a great opportunity to measure myself up against great talent,” added Wilson of the MaxPreps milieu.
After receiving a new iPhone for Christmas, Wilson will need to keep calling upon such potent defense as the highly competitive Open Division will only prove tougher as the bracket thins toward Monday’s championship final.