It’s a new era for Sacramento high school basketball when a prestigious eight-team field includes three area schools, including the top two seeds.
Woodcreek is No. 1 and Sheldon No. 2 in the boys Open Division of the CIF Northern California tournament, flip-flopping positions for the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I playoffs. Jordan Brown made two free throws with 0.1 seconds left Saturday to lift Woodcreek past Sheldon 69-68 at Pacific in a thrilling final that had fans, media, players and section staffers buzzing about a possible NorCal rematch.
Because the game was so close, and because these have been Northern California’s two top-ranked teams most of the season, the CIF selection committee rightly seeded Woodcreek and Sheldon at the top. Section runners-up generally are seeded below champions.
I believe this year, don’t look past us in the NorCal playoffs.
Ron Gully, Christian Brothers girls coach
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The Open Division is for elite teams that play a statewide schedule, have championship pedigree and are highly ranked in the state. That division also allows other schools a more equitable shot to win other divisions because private schools have dominated NorCal and state title games. Woodcreek and Sheldon are the only public schools in the NorCal Open field, which makes their standing even more remarkable.
“There’s good argument that these are the two best teams in Northern California,” said Woodcreek coach Paul Hayes, whose team has won 16 straight games.
On Friday, Woodcreek hosts eighth-seeded Capital Christian, the section D-III champion and a program with Open Division experience. Capital Christian coach Devon Jones said his team welcomes an Open return, adding Sacramento genuinely has arrived on the NorCal scene.
“We’re putting Sacramento on the NorCal map,” said Jones, whose team has won 18 consecutive games. “Sacramento has got to be proud.”
Sheldon hosts No. 7 Bellarmine of San Jose on Friday. Bellarmine was 25-1 before losing to Mitty of San Jose in the Central Coast Section Open final.
In Division II boys, Whitney, which has won 14 consecutive games, drew the No. 2 seed after winning its first section championship. The field includes No. 8 Burbank, No. 13 Del Oro, No. 14 Rio Linda and No. 16 Grant.
Vista del Lago, which fell to Capital Christian in the D-III section final, is seeded second in D-III. Sacramento Adventist is No. 3 in D-VI boys after the Capitals won the first section title in any sport in the school’s 59-year history, beating Sacramento Waldorf, the No. 5 NorCal seed.
West Campus earned the area’s lone girls No. 1 seed, doing so in D-IV. The Warriors became just the third Sacramento City Unified School District team to win a section girls title when they beat Foothill.
“We have a lot more season left, and we think we can win another championship,” West Campus coach John Langston said.
In D-I, McClatchy is seeded No. 2, Oak Ridge No. 4 and Folsom No. 9 in one of the area’s strongest D-I representations in years.
In D-II, Sacramento is No. 5 Elk Grove No. 7, Roseville No. 9, Antelope No. 13 and Whitney No. 15. Christian Brothers can reach .500 with a 3-0 NorCal showing as the Falcons gained the No. 6 seed in D-III after topping Patterson in the section final. The Falcons started the season 1-10 amid injuries and a taxing schedule.
We have a lot more season left, and we think we can win another championship.
John Langston, West Campus girls coach
“This is the first of great things to come,” Christian Brothers coach Ron Gully said after the section title victory. “I believe this year, don’t look past us in the NorCal playoffs.”