With barely enough time to wipe away the sweat and grins from winning Sac-Joaquin Section basketball championships over the weekend, area teams now gear up for the next exhaustive rounds.
The Northern California Regional tournament starts this week, meaning the element of the unknown with looming matchups against teams from other sections. In other words, it gets fun now.
Folsom, winners of 19 consecutive games, earned the No. 1 seed in the NorCal Division II field after emerging as the champion in the ultra-competitive D-II section field. The Bulldogs have an opening-night bye. Cosumnes Oaks is the No. 3 seed and has an opening bye, a favorable draw considering it lost to Folsom on Saturday in the D-II finals 79-62, snapping a 28-game on-court winning streak.
Jesuit, runaway winners in the section D-I tournament, is the No. 2 seed in the NorCal D-I bracket behind once-beaten Monte Vista of Danville. The Marauders have an opening bye and like their chances of a return trip to Sleep Train Arena, site of the section, NorCal and CIF State Championships.
“That’s the goal, to get back here,” Jesuit coach Greg Harcos said. “We’re playing really well right now. I’m excited for these guys.”
Bee No. 1 ranked Capital Christian, led by 6-8 forward D.J. Wilson, is the No. 2 seed in the elite NorCal Open Division behind NorCal No. 1 ranked Bishop O’Dowd. The Dragons of Oakland are unbeaten in NorCal play this season, including a crushing 86-60 victory over Capital Christian in January.
“We’re hoping for a rematch, to show what we can do,” Capital coach Devon Jones said Saturday after his Cougars three-peated as section D-V champions.
The Open Division was created last season to lump the best of the best - teams with ambitious schedules and sustained section championship and NorCal success over recent seasons - in the same division, regardless on enrollment.
Folsom and Jesuit, despite terrific seasons, were not Open qualifiers as neither made the playoffs last season. What’s more, the Open was created to allow public schools that don’t engage in national schedules a chance to compete for NorCal and state titles as the private schools have thoroughly dominated over the years. Teams can ask their section commissioners that help seed these tournaments to be placed into the Open, but that’s rare. Monte Vista, for example, has
been NorCal ranked in the top five all season, but the North Coast Section D-I title it won over the weekend was its first since 2009. Monte Vista players voted to remain in D-I as a public school eager to win a NorCal title.
To fill out the NorCal brackets, the section semifinalists all advance, though the section title winners and some runner-ups get to host while semifinalist losers travel as the lowest seeds. Still,
Folsom coach Mike Wall said he wouldn’t be surprised if the four Sac-Joaquin Section D-II semifinalists emerge as the four NorCal D-II semifinalists.
“These teams are that good,” Wall said.
Grant, led by one of the state’s best players in the 6-8 high-flying Cameron Oliver, is the No. 7 D-II seed and opens at No. 10 Chico. Del Oro is the No. 12 seed looming dangerously at 28-2 after its 24-game winning streak was snapped by Cosumnes Oaks in a section semifinal thriller. Del Oro opens a No. 5 Montgomery of Santa Rosa.
A year after winning five games, Natomas is the No. 6 seed in the NorCal D-IV field after racing past Encina in the section finals.
Encina is No. 8 seed and opens at No. 9 Corning because Corning is the Northern Section champion.
In girls NorCal play, Sacramento, winners of four successive section titles, is seeded eighth in the Open Division, which shows how deep the field is. The Dragons, led by defensive standouts Najah Queenland and Ayanna Edwards, open at No. 1 St. Mary’s of Berkeley on Friday.
In D-I, Oak Ridge is the No. 2 seed, a nice draw considering it lost to NorCal No. 1-ranked St. Mary’s of Stockton in the D-I section final. But with St. Mary’s and six other private school powers in the Open, public schools have a fighting chance in other divisions. That includes Oak Ridge, which lost in the section semfinals a year ago and stormed to the NorCal D-I finals. Oak Ridge opens with a bye.
Deer Valley of Antioch is the NorCal No. 1 seed. McClatchy, which lost to St. Mary’s in a section semifinal, is the No. 5 seed and will host No. 12 Gunn of Palo Alto on Wednesday.
Florin, runner-up in the D-III section, is the No. 4 seed and opens Saturday against Valley Christian of San Jose.
In D-IV, Bradshaw Christian is a No. 3 seed and pepns with a Bey. West Campus, which lost to Bradshaw Christian in the section finals, is a No. 4 seed and opens at jome against No. 13 Corning.
Follow Joe Davidson on Twitter @SacBee_JoeD and listen to his “Extra Point” every Wednesday on ESPN Radio 1320.