It was like something out of a movie.
The smallest player in the gym hit shot after shot to lead his team to an upset of the top-ranked high school basketball team in the entire nation.
That player was backup point guard Leo Ricketts, who scored a team-high 17 points to lead De La Salle past previously unbeaten West Linn-Oregon, 63-53.
The Lions entered the day ranked as the top team in America, according to USA Today’s Super 25, and were the most prominently advertised team to descend on Concord for the 25th De La Salle Martin Luther King Jr. Classic.
No, it’s not often for De La Salle to be an underdog, especially at home against a public school. But West Linn (13-1) had taken down Bronny James’ Sierra Canyon team and national juggernaut Duncanville-Texas on back-to-back days. Last Wednesday, the Spartans had lost their East Bay Athletic League (EBAL) opener to rival Monte Vista, and they struggled two nights later in a 46-35 win at Amador Valley.
Ricketts, who averaged 5.4 points per game and hadn’t scored more than 11 in a single contest, scored eight in the second quarter to dig De La Salle (15-4) out of an early 11-5 hole to draw even at halftime, 25-25. He hit two more threes in the third quarter, both off of assists from sophomore point guard Alec Blair. The shot in the final minute of the third quarter gave the Spartans a 45-42 lead.
“On a team full of really hard workers, he’s at the top of the list,” head coach Marcus Schroeder said of Ricketts. “He’s a great kid, a great teammate, the whole deal. He’s everything you want in a player. We’re lucky to have him.”
De La Salle entered the fourth with a one-point lead, and held that advantage the rest of the way. Ricketts’ fourth and final 3-pointer, off one of Billy Haggerty’s seven assists, gave the hosts a 50-44 lead.
“Once I got up and down a couple times, I felt pretty comfortable,” Ricketts said. “The last two games, I hadn’t played too well, so I was just trying to get my confidence back.”
Oregon commit Jackson Shelstad, who scored a game-high 20 points for West Linn, cut the lead to 50-48, but De La Salle rattled off a 9-1 run to take a double-digit lead on an Evan Wells 3-pointer. Haggerty’s basket with 1:59 to go made it 61-51, and after a pair of Shelstad free throws, the Spartans ran the shot clock down before a Blair putback sealed the victory. The previously unbeaten Lions didn’t bother to foul in the final minute.
Blair finished with 14 points, seven rebounds and four assists, while Haggerty and Wells scored 10 apiece. Adrian Mosley added 17 points and seven rebounds for West Linn, while Sam Leavitt, a Michigan State football commit who quarterbacked the Lions’ football team to a state championship in the fall, scored 12.
Ethan Kassel can be reached at [email protected]