Upon the start of the Sac-Joaquin Section basketball playoffs, we took a look into all six boys divisions
With the Sac-Joaquin Section basketball playoffs opening with first-round games on Friday, Feb 20, we break down each of the six boys divisions.
All records are through the regular season.
THE FAVORITE: Woodcreek (23-4)
Woodcreek may have grabbed just the No. 3 seed in this bracket, but the Timberwolves are still the favorite to come out of what will no question be the most competitive and talented field. Woodcreek won the highly-competitive Sierra Foothill League which also featured No. 1 seed — and last year’s CIF Divi. II NorCal champs — Folsom as well as No. 8 seed Granite Bay. Coach Paul Hayes’ team comes equipped with two of the top five individual players in the entire bracket in Long Beach State-commit Noah Blackwell and monster 6-foot-9 freshman sensation Jordan Brown. Not to mention Woodcreek is the only team in this bracket that defeated Folsom in head-to-head play.
CONTENDERS: Folsom is still top ’Dog and is considered by many to be the team to beat in this bracket. With Jordan Ford looking for a repeat section championship, the Bulldogs are the likely section final opponent to face off with Woodcreek. The No. 2 seed, Sheldon, and No. 4 Pleasant Grove bring their Delta League rivalry to themix as well. The Huskies’ athleticism, combined with close wins against a quality schedule pose a threat for any team in the bracket. Sheldon has big-time players in Devin Greene and Matt Manning while Pleasant Grove comes equipped with one of the best players in thesection in Washington commit Marquese Chriss.
The No. 10 seed Broncos played numerous teams in this bracket down to the wire. They made a few mistakes that cost them down the stretch in a close 53-48 defeat to No. 3 seed Woodcreek, but gained footing late in the season and won five of their last seven games. Look for Dave Gonzalez and his crew to continue their late season magic in an opening-round game on the road against No 7 seed Oak Ridge.
ONE PLAYER TO WATCH: Jordan Brown (Woodcreek )
It is difficult to highlight just one player from the extremely deep talent pool in this bracket. But the Timberwolves’ freshman post player stands out. Brown’s unveiling as a star was delayed by injuries that kept him off the court early in the season. But now, with numerous games under his belt, Brown has turned into the monster everyone predicted he’d be. Brown is the X-factor in the tournament. His size, scoring, rebounding and overall presence on the court give Woodcreek arguably the best player on the floor and poses a matchup nightmare to opponents.
FINALS PREDICTION: Woodcreek 70, Folsom 68 (OT)
THE FAVORITE: Sacramento (23-4)
Top-seeded Sac High went through its 2014-15 schedule as a team possessed. Coach Derek Swafford’s Dragons were a perfect 14-0 in the Metropolitan Conference and averaged 79.1 points per game while eclipsing 90 six times this season. Another section championship would just add to the program’s illustrious history.
CONTENDERS: Both No. 2 seed Modesto Christian and No. 3 St. Mary’s-Stockton pose threats to Sacramento and could find themselves raising a banner at Sleep Train when it’s all said and done. The Crusaders finished the season 24-3 overall and have a true beast in senior forward Anthony Townes who averaged 20.1 points per game this season. Modesto Christian also has solid contributors in Christian Ellis, Jeff Wu and Robinson Idehen. The Rams hitch their wagons to their own scorer in senior Lance Coleman II, who averaged 20.1 points per game in leading St. Mary’s to 20-7 record and TCAL title.
BRACKET BUSTER: Bear Creek (22-5)
The 11th-seed in the bracket, Bear Creek started the season 10-1 and finished with a share of the San Joaquin Athletic Association title. The Bruins’ strength of schedule may have been the cause for the committee placing them in the bottom half of the bracket, but that might only serve to light a fire under the underdogs. Led by senior guard Andre Green’s 21.2 points per game, Bear Creek is poised to provide the tournament an upset in its opener against Antelope. Beware of poking the wrong bear.
ONE PLAYER TO WATCH: Solomon Young (Sacramento)
Last year was a bittersweet campaign for Young, whose season ended prematurely after injuring his leg in a late-season showdown with top flight recruit Ivan Rabb and Bishop O’ Dowd-Oakland. The junior came back with a vengeance this season, averaging 16 points and 8.1 rebounds per game. His tremendous athleticism and drive will produce plenty of highlights, and very possibly, a section championship banner.
FINALS PREDICTION: Sacramento 74, Modesto Christian 66
THE FAVORITE: Christian Brothers (21-6)
The Falcons lead the pack once again as the No. 1 seed in the bracket. Christian Brothers enters the postseason on a four-game winning streak, and coach Brian Chavez looks to see his team continue its winning ways well into March for yet another year.
CONTENDERS: Second-seeded Vanden-Fairfield (22-5) looks to be the biggest threat to Christian Brothers in the bracket. Led by Senior DeMarre Walker, who averaged 21 points per game this season, the Vikings claimed the Solano County Athletic League crowd and are a formidable foe for any opponent. Sierra-Manteca (25-2) enters the postseason with a 10-game winning streak, and the Timberwolves only lost to Div. II powers Modesto Christian and Bear Creek.
The Cougars come into the bracket as the No. 9 seed and will start out on the road against Central Valley. Yet they possess one of the premier young scorers in junior guard Jaelen Ragsdale. If Weston Ranch can take control of the always-tricky 8 vs. 9 first-round matchup, top-seeded Christian Brothers could have its hands full in the second round.
ONE PLAYER TO WATCH: Jordan Roberson (Cordova)
At the No. 4 seed, Cordova comes in averaging well over 70 points per game on the season, thanks in large part to senior guard Jordan Roberson. Roberson led the section with a 31.8 points per game average, and scored at least 30 in 16 games this season for the Lancers. Look for him to be the guy that lights it up in this tournament.
FINALS PREDICTION: Christian Brothers 66, Sierra-Manteca 61
THE FAVORITE: Capital Christian (21-8)
Coach Devon Jones and his Cougars are seeking a fourth consecutive section championship, and the program’s first in Division IV after three Div. V titles. Despite graduating a solid nucleus of players from last year’s team, Capital Christian is still head-and-shoulders above the rest of the field due to its selflessness and ability to constantly find the open man. Junior Tiegen Jones (12.8 ppg) leads a quality group of underclassmen that will look to the leadership of seniors Justice Shelton-Mosley, Dante Henley and Edward Ware to bring another banner back to the gym.
CONTENDERS: No. 2 seed Liberty Ranch (23-4) brings an up-tempo game that can put opponents in a hole very quickly. Head coach Josh
BRACKET BUSTER: West Campus (17-9)
The Warriors took Capital Christian to the wire in a 65-59 defeat back on Jan. 9. The confidence the team got from that narrow defeat has made West Campus a better basketball team, and a real dark horse capable of shaking up the field from its slot as the No. 6 seed.
ONE PLAYER TO WATCH: DeAndre Stallings (Liberty Ranch)
Stallings can flat out light it up. His 26.8 points per game this season gives the Hawks hope that he can carry them to the final and come alive on the biggest stage. The senior can shoot it, drive it to the hole and get others involved to the point that opponents can’t bring another man to double him because of his passing ability.
FINALS PREDICTION: Liberty Ranch 67, Capital Christian 61
THE FAVORITE: Ripon Christian (19-5 )
The Knights go into the postseason healthy and brimming with confidence. Senior Sean Broker led the team with 21.4 points and 8.1 rebounds per game while brothers Danny and Travis Vender Molen combined for 21.4 points and 8.7 assists for a program that has won nine SJS titles, but none since 1996.
CONTENDER: Brookside Christian has won 19 straight games coming into the tournament and landed the No. 2 seed. Coach Adam Lichter will no doubt have his squad focused and ready to keep the streak alive through the playoffs. Senior Kameron Vales (17.1 ppg) leads four starters averaging double figures.
BRACKET BUSTER: Elliot Christian (19-7)
The fourth-seeded Eagles are in quite the pickle. Should they get past Western Sierra Collegiate Academy, their next opponent would almost certainly be No. 1 seed Ripon Christian. While few observers would pick Elliott Christian to advance past the Knights, crazier things have happened in Division V.
ONE PLAYER TO WATCH: David Lerma (Elliot Christian)
The 6-foot senior point guard could be the Eagles’ ace in the hole to lift Elliott Christian to new heights. Lerma averaged 22.9 points per game this season and is capable of scoring in bunches from beyond the arc.
FINALS PREDICTION: Brookside Christian 62, Ripon Christian 58
THE FAVORITE: Sacramento Country Day (23-4)
One year removed from a 1-17 season, the Cavaliers are seeking to play in the program’s first section final. A trio of freshmen led the way to the No. 1 seed as Rick Barros III (17.2 points and 8.4 rebounds per game) received plenty of support from the backcourt pairing of B.J. Askew (15.9 ppg) and Jayce McCain (15.1 ppg). Coach Dave Ancrum may become a regular in the section finals with a roster dominated by underclassmen.
CONTENDER: Valley Christian Academy (12-10) earned a spot as the No.2 Seed with a deep roster. Longtime athletic director and coach Brad Gunter Jr. and “The System” are back with a 13-deep rotation of players who logged minutes in every game.
BRACKET BUSTER: New Life Christian (21-3)
New Life Christian comes in as the sixth seed, and though they lost in the first matchup against No. 3 seed Sacramento Adventist, they’ve seemingly discovered something new that has freed up their offense lately. Seniors Kobe Bancroft and Sullivan Guy both averaged 16.6 ppg to lead the Crusaders.
ONE PLAYER TO WATCH: Daniel Milligan (Valley Christian Academy)
Milligan was part of last year’s team that fell to top-seeded and eventual-champion Victory Christian in the semifinals. The senior guard is a layer capable of scoring in bunches, shooting the three and staying hot even when subbed out of the game. Look for him to make his mark in this bracket.
FINALS PREDICTION: Valley Christian 69, Sacramento Country Day 66