Unbeaten against Sac-Joaquin Section teams this season, The Bee’s top-ranked girls teams meet Tuesday for bragging rights.
And, seemingly, a shot at toppling a nationally ranked team Saturday.
McClatchy, ranked No. 1 all season, and No. 2 Oak Ridge meet in a Division I semifinal at Pacific. Both have been propelled by balanced scoring and inspired defenses in their first two postseason games.
Looming on the other side of the bracket is St. Mary’s of Stockton, ranked fourth in the nation by MaxPreps. The Rams (28-1) succeed with pressure defense and shooting. They have won seven consecutive section titles in various divisions and seek a D-I three-peat. St. Mary’s plays upstart Davis (26-2) on Tuesday.
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Led by senior Emma Stenz, who’s averaging 15.9 points and 9.8 rebounds, Davis hasn’t been this good since the Denise Curry dynasty of the 1970s. The final is Saturday at Sleep Train Arena.
All D-I semifinalists qualify for the Northern California Regional playoffs, which start next week. Even if it loses in the semifinals or final, St. Mary’s will be in the Open Division, the best of the best, because of its national standing and years of success. McClatchy (22-6), Oak Ridge (25-3) and Davis do not meet the Open Division criteria and will be in the D-I field.
Last season, Pleasant Grove lost in the section semifinals but emerged as the NorCal D-I champion after knocking off higher seeds on the road.
“We’re looking foward to UOP,” McClatchy forward Gigi Garcia said after her team eliminated Pleasant Grove 70-54 Thursday. “Now is when it gets really intense.”
Antelope, Del Oro face D-II tests– Antelope (26-1) plays Kimball of Tracy (29-0) in a D-II semifinal Tuesday at Pacific. Del Oro (23-5) faces Modesto Christian (24-4) in the other semifinal.
Antelope has lost only to D-IV top seed Brookside Christian (22-2). Angelica Baylon (16.4 points) and sisters Nadia and Nia Johnson (15.0 and 13.6 points, respectively) lead the Titans.
Kimball went from 1-26 in its first varsity season in 2010-11 to 25-4 last season.
Modesto Christian won section, NorCal and state titles in D-III last season. Del Oro is battle-tested from the Sierra Foothill League, placing second to Oak Ridge after losing two close meetings. The Golden Eagles feature frontcourt players Lauren Heyn (15.4 points, 9.0 rebounds) and Hannah Jordan (10.2 points, 8.8 rebounds).
Knights to the core – Jerry Huffhines knows Rio Linda athletics as well as anybody, having played for the Knights before coaching their girls basketball team.
Huffhines’ top players include freshman Makaila Sanders, who’s averaging 21.2 points, and sophomoreBrandy Huffhines, the coach’s daughter, who’s averaging 10.0 points and 5.7 assists.
Rio Linda (24-5) plays Florin (20-8) in a D-III semifinal Tuesday at Cosumnes River College. The Panthers, who reached the NorCal D-III semifinals last season, have a balanced attack led by Ikeysha Smith (12.4 points), Jikara Sellers (12.2), Rhianna Jackson (11.7) and Desiree’ Dedrick (10.1).
Youth vs. experience – Youthful West Campus (20-6) meetsBradshaw Christian (20-9) and its veteran leadership in a D-IV semifinal Wednesday at Tokay High in Lodi.
West Campus is paced by sophomore Namiko Adams (15.8 points) and freshman Kiara Jefferson (13.6). Bradshaw Christian, seeking a section three-peat, features seniors Erika Bean (21.1 points) and Jordyn Bell (20.4).
Follow Joe Davidson on Twitter @SacBee_JoeD.
THE BEE PREPS SHOW
Check out “The Bee Preps Show,” hosted by Joe Davidson of The Bee and Mike Finnerty of All-City Preps, Tuesday at 10:30 p.m. on CSNCA. It will be repeated Wednesday at 11:30 a.m., Thursday at 8 p.m. and Friday at 3:30 p.m. It also can bee seen each Friday at sacbee.com/high-school
SECTION PLAYOFF SCHEDULE
For this week’s schedule, see Scoreboard, Page C5