Randall Benton / rbenton@sacbee.com

Folsom’s Josiah Deguara, left, and Jordan Ford, right, double-team Jaaron Stallworth of Cosumnes Oaks during their Sac-Joaquin Section Division I final.

Preps: Breaking down the NorCal Regional basketball brackets

Published: Sunday, Mar. 9, 2014 - 9:21 pm
Last Modified: Sunday, Mar. 9, 2014 - 9:39 pm

The Northern California Regional playoffs are here, soon enough. Here's a closer look by division, boys and girls, with comments.


BOYS

OPEN DIVISION

Friday’s first-round games

(All games at 7 p.m.; unless noted)

No. 5 Modesto Christian at No. 4 Newark Memorial

No. 6 El Cerrito at No. 3 Archbishop Mitty-San Jose

Byes: No. 1 Bishop O'Dowd-Oakland, No. 2 Capital Christian.

Comment: This is how fast Capital Christian has soared. It once played on a home, blue, carpeted floor. It bounced from the Sac-Joaquin Section to the Northern Section and back to the Sac-Joaquin Section. Now they are a state-wide heavy hitter, and it has been NorCal ranked second to Bishop O'Dowd in the MaxPreps NorCal Top 25 for the last month or so. O'Dowd is the clear No. 1 team here with no NorCal losses, and it features a dynamic 1-2 punch in the 6-foot-10 Ivan Rabb to go with ace guard Paris Austin. Capital Christian wants a rematch with O'Dowd, which rolled the Cougars 86-60 on Martin Luther King Day at Cal. Looming is No. 4-seeded Newark Memorial, winners of 21 consecutive games, NorCal-ranked No. 5 by MaxPreps, well coached, physical and fast. Modesto Christian, in coach Gary Porter's final season, draws Newark a year after elimating O'Dowd in their NorCal opener. Expect to see Capital against O'Dowd at Sleep Train Arena for the title on March 22.


DIVISION I

Wednesday’s first-round games

(All games at 7 p.m.; unless noted)

No. 8 Fremont-Oakland at No. 9 Bellarmine-San Jose

No. 12 Merced vs. No. 5 McClymonds-Oakland at Oakland Tech, 7:30 p.m.

No. 13 Kennedy at No. 4 San Ramon Valley

No. 11 Menlo-Atherton at No. 6 Rodriguez-Faifield

No. 7 De La Salle-Concord vs.No 10 Lincoln-San Francisco at Kezar, 7:30 p.m.

Byes: No. 1 Monte Vista-Danville, No. 2 Jesuit, No. 3 Freedom

Comment: The Open Division clears the way for teams in other divisions to make a NorCal title run, and that's the fun of it. Monte Vista is 28-1, NorCal ranked third by MaxPreps and the top seed here. The Mustangs voted as a team to not petition up into the Open as it is a public school that last won a North Coast Section title in 2009. It's a sound argument. Jesuit is red hot of late, playing its best ball in the playoffs with crushing wins over good teams, thanks to offensive balance and defense. Lake Lutes and Isaiah Bailey make for a terrific 1-2 punch with the 6-9, hard-working Brady Anderson inside and Nick Hilton and Josh Soriano leading the break. Jesuit could draw De La Salle in a second-round game, so yeah, this is a pretty good field. Also keep in mind that No. 4-seed San Ramon Valley is the only team to beat Monte Vista this season, later avenged, and those teams are in the same East Bay Athletic League as De La Salle. Kennedy could be a factor with its guard play, headed by Cole Taira, and emerging bigs. Our pick for the NorCal finals at Sleep Train on March 22 is Jesuit against Monte Vista in a great show.


DIVISION II

Wednesday’s first-round games

(All games at 7 p.m.; unless noted)

No. 9 Washington-Fremont at No. 8 St. Ignatius-San Francisco

No. 12 Del Oro at No. 5 Montgomery-Santa Rosa

No. 11 Las Lomas-Walnut Creek at No. 6 Leigh-San Jose

No. 7 Grant at No. 10 Chico, 7:30 p.m.

Byes: No. 1 Folsom, No. 2 Concord, No. 3 Cosumnes Oaks, No. 4 Serra-San Mateo.

Comment: A curious draw was St. Ignatius of San Francisco as the 8th seed despite beating NorCal Open heavy Mitty of San Jose twice in West Catholic Athletic League play and then winning the Central Coast Section D-II title. St. Ignatius could face Folsom in the second round, meaning a showdown of super guards in SI's Trevor Dunbar against Folsom's Jordan Ford. Another team left to wonder is the lowest seed in No. 12 Del Oro, and that's OK. The Golden Eagles can do something about the low seed: win. Del Oro had its 24-game winning streak halted in a section semifinal thrilling loss to Cosumnes Oaks, which had its 28-game on-court winning streak halted in the D-II finals to red-hot Folsom, which has won 19 straight. The seeding committee rightfully acknowledged Cosumnes Oaks' overall record and not the 15 forfeited games for a paper-work gaffe regarding an athletically motivated transfer. This isn't the time for rivals or teams bounced by CO to massage their morale compass and to harp about ethics. Cosumnes Oaks fits as the 3-seed. Grant as a No. 7 seed may drop a real hammer on Chico as Chico hasn't faced a trio like Cameron Oliver, Donovan Brown and Jeremee Churchill. And Folsom aims to return to Sleep Train for a shot at the NorCal title as a well-oiled machine headed by Ford and classic role players such as Gavin Smith, Lukas Hendricks, Jared Wall, Josiah Deguara, Alec Andrews and Colin Russell. And there's No. 2 Concord, which beat top-seeded Montgomery in the North Coast Section D-II semifinals before falling in a great game against Open Division entry Newark Memorial. Projected final: Folsom vs. Cosumnes Oaks.


DIVISION III

Wednesday’s first-round games

(All games at 7 p.m.; unless noted)

No. 9 Sir Francis Drake-San Anselmo at No. 8 Enterprise-Redding

No. 12 Miramonte-Orinda at No. 5 Fairfield

No. 11 Christian Brothers at No. 6 Acalanes-Lafayette

No. 10 Vanden at No. 7 Aragon-San Mateo

Byes: No. 1 Sacred Heart Cathedral-San Francisco, No. 2 Campolindo-Moraga, No. 3 Archbishop Riordan-San Francisco, No 4. Burlingame.

Comment: The West Catholic Athletic League is a meat grinder league, forever, and it produces section champions, NorCal and state winners. Top-seeded Sacred Heart Cathedral of San Francisco showed well in the WCAL Tournament and the Central Coast Section Open Division. So did No. 3 Archbishop Riordan, also of the WCAL. This is a Bay Area heavy group here.


DIVISION IV

Wednesday’s first-round games

(All games at 7 p.m.; unless noted)

No. 8 Encina at No. 9 Corning

No. 12 Riverbank at No. 5 Santa Cruz

No. 13 Harker-Sunnyvale at No. 4 St. Patrick/St. Vincent-Vallejo

No. 14 Marshall-San Francisco at No. 3 Half Moon Bay

No. 11 Fortuna at No. 6 Natomas

No. 10 Colfax at No. 7 Sacred Heart Prep-Atherton

No. 15 Gridley at No. 2 Salesian-Richmond

Bye: No. 1 Moreau Catholic-Hayward.

Comment: Moreau Catholic of Hayward is athletic and well coached, and it’s the last team to beat Folsom. No. 2 Salesian is a longtime powerhouse and an Open division team a year ago. No. 6 Natomas has gone from five wins to beating Encina for a section D-IV title, and the dangerous Bulldogs are a No. 8 seed. Moreau Catholic is the heavy here, with No. 3 Half Moon Bay, superbly coached with size inside, a real threat.


DIVISION V

Wednesday’s first-round games

(All games at 7 p.m.; unless noted)

No. 9 Woodside Priority-Portola Valley at No. 8 University-San Francisco

No. 11 Mt. Shasta at No. 6 Stuart Hall-San Francisco

No. 10 Forest Lake Christian at No. 7 Pinewood-Los Altos Hills

Byes: No. 1 Central Catholic-Modesto, No. 2 St. Joseph Notre Dame-Alameda, No. 3 Brookside Christian-Stockton, No. 4 Branson-Ross.

Comment: St. Joseph of Alameda was seemingly on its way to the Open, or a strong argument to be placed there, but the Pilots some how wind up as a 2-seed despite winning the North Coast Section D-V title. What's more, St. Joseph, prep home of Jason Kidd, is NorCal ranked in the top 10, while NorCal D-V playoff top seed Central Catholic was routed in the Sac-Joaquin Section D-V finals. It’ll all play out, we’re sure. St. Joseph’s is our clear winner.


GIRLS

OPEN DIVISION

Friday’s first-round games

(All games at 7 p.m.; unless noted)

No. 8 Sacramento at No. 1 St. Mary's-Berkeley

No. 4 Salesian-Richmond at No. 5 St. Ignatius-San Francisco

No. 6 Miramonte-Orinda vs. No. 3 St. Mary's-Stockton at Delta College

No. 7 Sacred Heart Cathedral-San Francisco vs. No. 2 Carondelet-Concord at De La Salle

Comment: How good is this field? Loaded, and there's no defending champion Bishop O'Dowd, which was disqualified from the North Coast Section tournament for exceeding by one the amount of regulation games it can play. So here's Sacramento High, talented, deep and well coached, placed as the No. 8 and final seed after winning its fourth successive section title - and facing No. 1 St. Mary's of Berkeley. No. 4 Salesian beat St. Mary's three times but lost in the North Coast Section D-IV to its rival. And there's No. 3-seed St. Mary's of Stockton, which came into the playoffs as the top-ranked team in NorCal and rolled to its seventh successive Sac-Joaquin Section title. Great field.


DIVISION I

Wednesday’s first-round games

(All games at 7 p.m.; unless noted)

No. 9 Santa Rosa at No. 8 North Salinas

No. 12 Gunn-San Jose at No. 5 McClatchy

No. 13 Skyline-Oakland at No. 4 Berkeley

No. 14 Galileo-San Francisco at No. 3 Wilcox-Santa Clara

No. 11 Pleasant Grove vs. No. 6 McClymonds at Oakland Tech, 6 p.m.

No. 7 Monte Vista vs. No. 10 Lowell, 7:30 p.m.

Byes: No. 1 Deer Valley, No. 2 Oak Ridge.

Comment: The Open Division pulled in all the monster heavies, such as St. Mary's of Stockton, so now it's a wide-open game here and a chance for the public schools to surge. Oak Ridge last season lost in the Sac-Joaquin Section semifinals and then went 3-0 in NorCal play to reach the D-I finals. Repeat run? With Jenn Hoffman, Ali Bettencourt and a host of support crew grinders, it's possible. No. 1 Deer Valley of Antioch blasted longtime NorCal powerhouse Berkeley in the North Coast Section D-I finals. No. 5 McClatchy is a real threat, too, with Lauren Nubla, the Wong sisters, Jordan Cruz and inside players Gigi Garcia and Destiny Lee.


DIVISION II

Wednesday’s first-round games

(All games at 7 p.m.; unless noted)

No. 9 Bethel-Vallejo at No. 8 Dublin

No. 11 Windsor at No. 6 Del Oro

No. 10 Ukiah at No. 7 Chico, 6 p.m.

Byes: No. 1 Archbishop Mitty-San Jose, No. 2 McNair-Stockton, No. 3 Presentation-San Jose, No. 4 Clayton Valley-Concord, No. 5 Lynbrook-San Jose.

Comment: Sacramento High wanted to be in this field, and might've won it, but the Dragons are Open material with four successive section titles. Del Oro is a darkhorse No. 6 seed. No. 2 McNair of Stockton, which lost to Sacramento in the section D-II finals, targets a title showdown with No. 1 Mitty, a longtime powerhouse that hasn't won a ton in recent years, hence, no Open.


DIVISION III

Wednesday’s first-round games

(All games at 7 p.m.; unless noted)

No. 9 Analy-Sebastopol at No. 8 Patterson

No. 11 San Marin-Novato at No. 6 Vanden-Fairfield

No. 10 Soquel at No. 7 Campolindo-Moraga

Byes: No. 1 Enterprise-Redding, No. 2 Modesto Christian, No. 3 Encinal-Alameda, No. 4 Florin, No. 5 Valley Christian.

Comment: Enterprise of Redding, the power team in the Northern Section, has a real shot to win this event. Like other public schools, Enterprise is thankful for the Open Division. No. 2 Modesto Christian edged Florin in a thriller of a section D-III title game, and Florin emerges as a darkhorse here. No. 6 Vanden is dangerous when healthy as the short-handed Vikings lost late to Florin in a section semifinal with two key players out.


DIVISION IV

Wednesday’s first-round games

(All games at 7 p.m.; unless noted)

No. 9 Cardinal Newman-Santa Rosa at No. 8 Menlo School-Atherton

No. 12 Colfax at No. 5 Justin Siena-Napa

No. 12 Corning at No. 4 West Campus

No. 11 Castilleja-Palo Alto at No. 6 Piedmont

No. 7 Bear River at No. 4 10 West Valley-Cottonwood

Byes: No. 1 Scotts Valley, No. 2 Arcata-Eureka, No. 3 Bradshaw Christian.

Comment: The Open Division is a life saver for these teams, otherwise the clear favorites would have been Open top seed St. Mary's of Berkeley and Salesian of Richmond, which beat St. Mary's three times. Now these teams have a chance, and that includes No. 3 Bradshaw Christian, which has sailed through section play with five titles in the last six seasons but hasn't won a NorCal title under coach Mike Ruble. With guards like Erika Bean, the time is now.


DIVISION V

Wednesday’s first-round games

(All games at 7 p.m.; unless noted)

No. 9 San Domencio-San Anselmo at No. 8 St. Francis-Watsonville

No. 12 Ripon Christian at No. 5 St. Vincent de Paul-Petaluma

No. 13 Central Catholic-Modesto at No. 4 Eastside College Prep-E. Palo Alto

No. 14 Weed at No. 3 International-San Francisco

No. 11 Pacific Collegiate-Santa Cruz at No. 6 Capital Christian

No. 7 Valley Christian at No. 10 Durham

Byes: No. 1 Brookside Christian-Stockton, No. 2 Pinewood-Los Altos Hills.

Comment: Brookside Christian of Stockton was sweating out the seedings because it desperately wanted to avoid the Open again, as it got crushed in an opener last season. Despite winning another section title, beating Capital Christian, the Knights avoided the Open and look as the favorite here. Capital Christian as a 6-seed is exceptionally dangerous and well coached by Suzanne Baker. A few more made free throws might've earned Capital the section title over Brookside, so that's how small the margin of error is.

- On Twitter: @SacBee_JoeD

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