The presence of Southern California-bound point guard Julian Jacobs makes Desert Pines one of the top Division I-A boys basketball teams in the area.
But if the Jaguars are going to be serious contenders for postseason titles, someone is going to have to help Jacobs. On Tuesday night, that someone was junior forward Re’meake Keith.
Keith had 16 points, 12 rebounds and two blocked shots off the bench to help Desert Pines to a 56-51 road victory over Eldorado.
“He’s really good, and he’s getting better and better,” Desert Pines coach Mike Uzan said. “We’re looking for him to mature and take a role in this team.”
Tuesday that role was crashing the glass and handling slick passes from teammates.
The 6-foot-5-inch Keith scored six points on offensive rebounds and converted several easy baskets after teammates drove and dished him the ball.
“He’s got some really good hands,” Uzan said. “He’s just getting better every day. He’s learning the game and getting a whole lot better for us.”
Keith’s size can be key for a Desert Pines team that starts a pair of 5-8 guards along with the 6-3 Jacobs and 6-1 senior Donavin Wright.
“He gets the boards,” Uzan said of Kleth. “He gets it done for us. He’s our presence inside, without a doubt.”
Desert Pines (4-0) never trailed, but the Jaguars didn’t pull away. Eldorado (3-2) got as close as 43-41 on a Jacob Hollingsworth free throw with four minutes left.
“It was like every time we took two steps forward, we took three back,” Uzan said. “We couldn’t break away.”
After Hollingsworth’s free throw, Jacobs converted a three-point play and had a driving layup to push the lead back to seven.
Eldorado made it close again in the final minute, getting within 53-49 on a driving layup by D.J. Billingsley with 36 seconds left. But Billingsley missed two free throws with 26.8 seconds that could have cut the Jaguars’ lead to two.
Jacobs finished with 15 points, 11 rebounds, five assists, two blocked shots and a steal.
Jayveon Brown led Eldorado with 11 points and nine rebounds, and Darrion Daniels also scored 11 for the Sundevils, who got eight points, eight rebounds and three assists from Billingsley.
“They’re a good, young group of kids,” Uzan said of Eldorado. “They’re going to play you hard all day long. Those guys can play. Don’t sleep on Eldorado.”