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Preview: NorCal Boys Finals Preview: NorCal Boys Finals
And then there were 48. That’s how many high school basketball teams continued practice schedules this week with dreams of a state title. The... Preview: NorCal Boys Finals

And then there were 48. That’s how many high school basketball teams continued practice schedules this week with dreams of a state title. The majority of that number gets cut in half on March 18 as 24 boys teams and 24 girls will attempt to take the last step to the state finals — which take place March 25-26 at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento. We’ll have preview glances for each of the regional championship games taking place in Northern and Southern California this Saturday. First up, the NorCal girls.

Here’s how they’ll roll out:

Thursday, noon: NorCal Girls
Friday, 8 A.M.: NorCal Boys
Friday, noon: SoCal Girls
Friday, 4 P.M.: SoCal Boys

CIF Boys Basketball Northern Regional Championship Matchups

OPEN DIVISION

Elisha Duplechan is the point guard who makes everything go for Sheldon. (James K. Leash photo)

MATCHUP: No. 1 Woodcreek-Roseville (31-2) vs. No. 2 Sheldon-Sacramento (30-3), 8 p.m. at Santa Clara University
HISTORY: Woodcreek is making its fifth regional finals appearance, and its fourth since 2010. The Timberwolves are winless in their last three attempts, though. Their only win came in the 2003 Div. II final. Sheldon is making its fourth overall appearance, and second trip to the Open final. The Huskies lost to Aaron Gordon and Archbishop Mitty-San Jose in the first NorCal Open title game. Their lone regional championship came in Div. I in 2012. Neither team owns a state crown.
WOODCREEK KEY TO VICTORY: Let the big dog eat. Timberwolves 6-foot-11 center Jordan Brown is the best player on any NorCal regional finalist. He’s averaging an obscene double-double of approximately 27 points and 16 rebounds per game. Foul trouble and the Huskies defense held him to just 13 in the first game, but he still sank two free-throws with 0.1 seconds left to win the Sac-Joaquin Section Div. I final 69-68.
SHELDON KEY TO VICTORY: Don’t change a thing. The Huskies came within 0.1 seconds of taking down Woodcreek in the SJS final. They defended Brown extremely well and led by as much as 10 at one point. Woodcreek overcame Brown’s pedestrian night with strong 3-point shooting. So if Sheldon follows the same blueprint, there’s no reason to think it won’t have a great shot at victory.
PREDICTION: Sheldon 64, Woodcreek 61

DIVISION I

Logan senior big man, Edra Luster, averages 10 points, eight rebounds and nearly three blocks a game for the Colts. (Berry Evans III photo)

MATCHUP: No. 3 James Logan-Union City (27-5) vs. No. 9 Palo Alto (26-4), 4 p.m. at Santa Clara University
HISTORY: This is Logan’s first trip to the regional championship in 30 years. The Colts went three straight years from 1985-87 and were only victorious in their first appearance. Meanwhile, Palo Alto returns for the first time since riding Jeremy Lin to the 2006 state title. It’s the Vikings fourth overall appearance; they also won in 1993, and finished the job at state then too.
LOGAN KEY TO VICTORY: Believe in balance. Logan has been extremely consistent and not particularly flashy all season. But don’t be fooled. The Colts are about as well-rounded a team as you’ll find at this level. They share the ball and the spotlight as four different players average at least 10 points. Avoid any hero ball. Execute the game plan. Raise the banner.
PALO ALTO KEY TO VICTORY: Ride the wave. Palo Alto is undoubtedly playing its best basketball over the past two weeks and needs to continue to feed off that confidence. Maintaining a defense that has held opponents to an average of just 52.6 points over 30 games would be a good plan as well.
PREDICTION: James Logan 59, Palo Alto 57

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