Dustin Monday

Dustin Monday enters his seventh season as head varsity basketball coach at Elk Grove with a team that will compete for a Delta League championship in 2021-2022.

Elk Grove High School’s boys basketball team went home for Thanksgiving already sporting a 2-0 record in the young season. Behind team leaders DaJon Lott, Ameere Britton under the basket and guards Jordan Hess, Grant Golonka and Karlos Zepeda, the Thundering Herd have been impressive thus far with a 22-point win over Manteca and a 20-point margin of victory over Weston Ranch.

During the pandemic year when high school basketball was played in April, May and June, the Herd tied for first in the Delta League with Jesuit and overall went 10-1, that lone loss to the Marauders.

But, 2021-2022 is supposed to be back to things the way it used to be. This means a full 27-game schedule and playoffs in February. Head coach Dustin Monday, who is in his seventh season, thinks this team will be right there alongside the other familiar faces who grace the playoff courts. Last school year, had there been no pandemic, Monday thinks that squad would have been one of the last team’s standing.

“I think we’d be in that conversation,” he said. “Jesuit got us in that one matchup in Delta League, but in that game DaJon, our big 6-foot-8 kid, went out with a blown ankle pretty early and I think that would have been a big difference. Yeah, that team, if there were playoffs I don’t know why we wouldn’t be considered favorites for Division II.”

A couple guys who were contributors from that squad graduated, but everyone else is back, which makes Elk Grove a team to once again be reckoned with.

“Ameere Britton is the headliner there,” Monday said. “He’s a four-year varsity player. I can’t remember the last time Elk Grove’s had a four-year basketball player.”

Zepeda, Lott and Hess are now three-year varsity basketball players and quickly are contributing to the cause.

“There’s a ton of experience in that senior group,” Monday said. “So, yes, we should be more than alright this year. We’re really balanced.”

Lott, at 6-8, 215, makes a huge difference for the Herd not just because he’s big.

“He’s really skilled, can play both inside and out,” Monday said. “He shoots the three really well. Karlos and Jordan are really talented deep-three shooters. The other night we shot over 40 percent from three, which I don’t think has ever happened. And, Ameere is a guy you can just give the ball to and he’ll make plays.”

In the opener with Manteca, Elk Grove attempted more three-point shots than the twos. Monday admits he’s adapted a little more over the years to widening out his offense on the court. 

“It’s kind of a trend of basketball and I’ve bought into that philosophy, maybe a little to my detriment, but you take open threes and then hunt for shots right at the rim,” he explained. “We go for the high percentage shots, but then take the long ones if we have a good shot.”

 On Saturday, Elk Grove plays at a special one-day basketball event at Dublin High School against De LaSalle. Then they will once again host its popular early season tournament, the Bill Cartwright Classic, starting Dec. 2. The Herd opens with Christian Brothers. Other participants include Franklin, Pleasant Grove, McClatchy, St. Mary’s, Florin and Mountain House.

email - egsports@herburger.net

Twitter @JohnHullEG

John Hull came out of retirement in 2021 to return as the Citizen's Sports Editor. He started writing sports for the Citizen in Dec., 2007. Hull retired from teaching Mass Media/Journalism at Cosumnes River College and Luther Burbank H.S. in 2019.