February 28, 2009
Section playoff girls hoops results, schedule, comments

A look at the Sac-Joaquin Section girls playoff results, shedules and comments

Photo gallery: Girls D-1 section basketball playoff action

Division I

Quarterfinals

No. 1 Kennedy 65, No. 9 McNair 36
No. 7 Franklin-Elk Grove 68, No. 15 Tracy 47
No. 5 Lodi 53, No. 13 Nevada Union 42
No. 6 Sheldon 40, No. 3 Lincoln-Stockton 32

Semifinals

Wednesday at University of the Pacific, Stockton

No. 6 Sheldon vs. No. 7 Franklin-Elk Grove, 5:30 p.m.
No. 1 Kennedy vs. No. 5 Lodi, 9 p.m.

* The higher seeds have been falling, but not the top seed as Kennedy rolled again in looking strong as the defending champion. No. 2 Turlock fell in an opener to Tracy, which then fell to Franklin. No. 3 Lincoln could not handle Sheldon, officially making this field a wide-open affair, unless you wear Kennedy on your jersey.

Division II

Quarterfinals

No. 1 Oak Ridge 59, No. 8 Woodcreek 30
No. 4 Grant 72, No. 5 Granite Bay 56
No. 2 St. Francis 68, No. 7 Fairfield 34

Semifinals

Wednesday at University of the Pacific, Stockton

No. 2 St. Francis vs. No. 6 Valley, 4 p.m.
No. 1 Oak Ridge vs. No. 4 Grant, 7:30 p.m.

* Three of the top four seeds survived with Valley playing the upstart roll, though the challenge suddenly becomes more daunting with two-time defending champion St. Francis looming. Grant, meanwhile, has to play a perfect game to compete with Oak Ridge. And beware Valley, young, talented and motivated to pull more upsets.

Division III

Quarterfinals

No. 1 St. Mary's 95, No. 9 Sonora 39
No. 4 East Union 46, No. 5 El Dorado 40
No. 3 Sacramento 60, No. 6 Vanden 52
No. 2 Del Oro 42, No. 7 El Camino 32

Semifinals

Wednesday at Galt High School

No. 4 East Union (27-2) vs. No. 1 St. Mary's (24-3), 4 p.m.
No. 3 Sacramento (21-8) vs. No. 2 Del Oro (26-1), 5:30 p.m.

* The intrigue game is Sacramento-Del Oro, the Golden Eagles of Loomis falling only to Kennedy this season. Sacramento outlasted a talented Vanden team in a second-round game. St. Mary's meanwhile, is so desperate for competition that it may petition the section to allow for an at-large for the D-III boys field.

Division IV

Quarterfinals

No. 1 Christian Brothers 57, No. 9 Bear River 53
No. 5 Linden 47, No. 4 Hilmar 29
No. 3 Argonaut 75, No. 6 Le Grand 51
No. 7 Modesto Christian 68, No. 2 Vista del Lago 38

Semifinals

Wednesday at Tokay High School, Lodi

No. 7 Modesto Christian (22-7) vs. No. 3 Argonaut (26-3), 4 p.m.
No. 5 Linden (23-6) vs. No. 1 Christian Brothers (23-6), 9 p.m.

* CBS rolled a year ago and has been strong again. Don't expect any changes now.

Division V

Quarterfinals

No. 1 Bradshaw Christian 78, No. 8 Forest Lake Christian 27
No. 4 Turlock Christian 37, No. 12 Ripon Christian 27
No. 3 Sacramento Waldorf 52, No. 6 Lodi Academy 30
No. 2 Wilton Christian 58, No. 10 Foresthill 11

Semifinals

Tuesday at Galt High School

No. 4 Turlock Christian (22-7) vs. No. 1 Bradshaw Christian (25-4), 4 p.m.
No. 3 Sacramento Waldorf (22-6) vs. No. 2 Wilton Christian (25-1), 5:30 p.m.

* The top four seeds survived easily, so the routs should thin a bit, right? Perhaps not. Bradshaw and Wilton have steamed teams most of the season as they rumble toward a section-title game repeat (Bradshaw prevailed a year ago and handed Wilton its only loss this season).

February 27, 2009
Prep boys basketball results and upcoming schedule


Friday's results from Sac-Joaquin Section boys playoffs

Division I

No. 1 Folsom 80, No. 16 Armijo 41
No. 8 Enochs 72, No. 9 Pitman 61
No. 5 Merced 74, No. 12 Nevada Union 70
No. 13 Burbank 46, No. 4 Stagg 32
No. 3 Golden Valley 72, No. 14 Kennedy 58
No. 6 Sheldon 82, No. 11 Turlock 72
No. 7 Franklin 69, No. 10 West 54
No. 2 Rodriguez 50, No. 15 Lincoln-Stockton 43

Quarterfinals
Tuesday at Pacific

No. 5 Merced vs. No. 13 Burbank, 4 p.m.
No. 7 Franklin vs. No. 2 Rodriguez, 5:30 p.m.
No. 3 Golden Valley vs. No. 6 Sheldon, 7:30 p.m.
No. 1 Folsom vs. No. 8 Enochs, 9 p.m.

Division II

No. 1 Rocklin 76, No. 9 Oak Ridge 48
No. 5 Wood 53, No. 4 Pleasant Grove 52
No. 3 Bella Vista 70, No. 11 Woodcreek 67
No. 2 Fairfield 69, No. 7 Ponderosa 46

Semifinals
Thursday at Arco Arena

No. 1 Rocklin vs. No. 5 Wood, 7:30 p.m.
No. 3 Bella Vista vs. Fairfield, 9 p.m.

Division III

No.1 Sacramento 86, No. 8 Lincoln 43
No. 5 Whitney 50, No. 13 St. Mary's 42
No. 3 Foothill 62, No. 11 Natomas 49
No. 2 Del Oro 65, No. 7 Sonora 49

Semifinals

Wednesday at Galt

No. 1 Sacramento vs. No. 5 Whitney, 7:30 p.m.
No. 3 Foothill vs. No. 2 Del Oro, 9 p.m.

Division IV

No. 1 Christian Brothers 65, No. 9 Capital Christian 59
No. 4 San Juan 59, No. 12 Colfax 41
No. 6 Modesto Christian 70, No. 3 Bear River 47
No. 2 Vista del Lago 49, No. 10 Encina 42

Semifinals

Wednesday at Tokay

No. 6 Modesto Christian vs. No. 2 Vista del Lago, 5:30 p.m.
No. 1 CBS vs. No. 4 San Juan, 7:30 p.m.

Division V

No. 1 Bradshaw Christian 62, No. 8 Big Valley Christian 41
No. 4 Victory Christian 47, No. 5 Ripon Christian, 41
No. 2 Sacramento Waldorf 82, No. 7 Sacrament Country Day 68
No. 3 Forest Lake Christian 80, No. 11 Valley Christian 66

Semifinals

Tuesday at Galt

No. 2 Sacramento Waldorf vs. No. 3 Forest Lake Christian, 7:30 p.m.
No. 1 Bradshaw Christian vs. No. 4 Victory Christian, 9 p.m.

February 27, 2009
Quick notes on some boys basketball games

Quick hits on quick shooters and fast exits and those moving on at a brisk pace:

* Ron Pucci is officially over and out. The longtime Colfax coach who steered the program to championship heights in three different stints over 30 years, called it a career again. The Falcons fell to San Juan 59-41 in a Division IV quarterfinal.

In a division dominated state wide by private schools, Colfax was a refreshing reminder that small-school teams can indeed win with homegrown talent from around the block. The Falcons won three section titles in recent years, and Pucci cemented his legacy as an all-time area coach.

* No. 1 large-school seed Folsom won its 25th consecutive game, trouncing Armijo in a Division I opener 80-41, looking every bit the role of defending champion with more to prove.

* Vista del Lago's breakthrough season continued with a 49-42 triumph of Encina in a D-IV game, days after beating Mariposa 82-59.

* Top-seeded Sacramento has lost impressive guard Josiah Turner to injury but the Dragons are still the team to beat in D-III. Sacramento routed Lincoln 86-43 behind Chase Tapley's 33 points. The Dragons have won 13 straight.

* After Natomas went for 96 in a two point win over Livingston, Foothill downed the Nighthawks 62-49 in a D-III game, setting up an intriguing semifinal against Del Oro, a 65-49 winner over Sonora.

* kennedy was hot early, making five three pointers in the first quarter but bowed to experience and a bit more size in falling to No. 3-seed Golden Valley 72-58 in a D-I game.

* No. 6-seed Sheldon now takes on Golden Valley after dispatching another Central California Conference team in Turlock 82-72 behind Darius Nelson and Marcus Jackson, who scored 29 and 16 points, respectively.

* Top-seeded Rocklin belted Oak Ridge 76-48 in a D-II quarterfinal, and where are those bold Oak Ridge supporters who insisted the Trojans would pull the upset?

* Rocklin now plays No. 5 Wood, a 53-52 winner over Pleasant Grove, thus marking the end of the nice three-year varsity career for Xavier Thames, the Eagles point guard headed to Washington State on scholarship.

February 27, 2009
Sheldon is really warming up now

Sheldon just might reach the semi-finals of the Division I field for the third successive season.

Or, if it plays like it did in some stretches in downing Turlock 82-72 in an opener, then the Huskies could be hoisting the program's second Sac-Joaquin Section title in three seasons. Never mind the No. 6 seed. It's misleading due to injuries, when four starters missed time with an assortment of ailments (nose, ankles, feet, the works).

The Huskies lost four of five games at one stretch. Now they're healthy and hungry, with fourth-year starting guard Marcus Jackson and Darius Nelson leading the charge with a superb support crew that includes Ramon Eaton, Aaron Howse, Tremaine Moore, Charles Kennedy, Burnis Chambers and Travis Cosgaya. Jackson, Howse and Cosgaya all played a role in the 2007 section title team.

Jackson had 16 against Turlock and Nelson 29.

Nelson is looking even farther, though he knows he is wise to look only one game ahead, so help the wrath of coach Scott Gradin.

"If we play good defense, and we play our game, there's no team in California that can beat us," Nelson said.

Um, son, there's Mater Dei, top ranked in the country and blitzing along at 31-0 and favored to reach the state finals at Arco Arena.

Nelson nodded. No matter, the sophomore said.
"As long as we play our game, and not get big headed, we'll be fine," he said.

Stay tuned.

February 27, 2009
Sac's Turner out of playoffs with injury; coach fumes at the officials

Sacramento High School sophomore basketball standout Josiah Turner has been lost for the rest of the season and coach Derek Swafford is taking the referees to task because of it.

The 6-foot-3 guard broke his right hand in the first quarter of Wednesday's 91-49 win over Weston Ranch in the opening round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoffs.

"He was going up for a rebound and got low-bridged," Swafford said. "He had no where to come down and landed on his hand.

"There was no call or nothing and I jumped up and had a big fit....I don't think the referees see the level of play we have. They've got to do better at protecting the players."

Turner, who already has verbally committed to Arizona State, was averaging 14.6 points and 3.2 assists for the Dragons.
Swafford said Turner broke the upper part of his shooting hand, near the wrist. It is now in a cast.

"We'll miss him, of course, but other guys are going to have to step up," Swafford said. "Our seniors are going to have to do their part, especially Denzel Pruitt, Mike Henderson and Alonzo Brown."

The defending California Interscholastic Federation Northern California D-III champions play host to Lincoln in tonight's quarterfinals.

February 27, 2009
Rebounding phenom Alphonso lifts Encina boys' playoff prospects

One of the most intriguing players in this year's Sac-Joaquin Section boys basketball playoffs is Encina's Manuel "Pancho" Alphonso.

Everyone thought one of the Sac-Joaquin Section's most gifted rebounders was done with the prep game after last season, which ended for the Bulldogs with one of the wildest games in section history. Encina lost 122-100 to Modesto Christian in the D-IV semifinals.

Alphonso was listed as a senior on Encina's 2007-08 roster and played in the Optimist All-Star game, a contest involving the area's top graduated seniors.

But since re-joining the Bulldogs 10 games ago after being cleared to play by the section as a fifth-year senior, the 6-foot-1, 185-pound forward-center is having a huge impact for his team.

He is averaging 13.8 points and a section-leading 15.8 rebounds for the 18-9 Bulldogs, who have gone 8-2 since his return.

He had 13 points and 31 rebounds in Friday's 63-57 win over San Juan, denying the Spartans the chance to finish the Golden Empire League season unbeaten.

In Wednesday's D-IV playoff opener at Mariposa, Alphonso scored 13 points and hauled in 15 rebounds as the Bulldogs breezed to an 82-59 win.

Tonight Encina takes on No. 2 seed Vista del Lago in Folsom and Mitchell knows his 10th-seeded team has a better chance of an upset with his "rebounding beast."

"He is almost Dennis Rodman-like," Mitchell said. "He anticipates the bounce so well and his vertical leap is even better this season. He consistently gets two hands above the rim."

Mitchell says Alphonso earned another year of high school eligibility because he was put in the wrong classes as a ninth and 10th grader at Encina. Subsequently, Alphonso was unable to graduate last June.

But in checking the paperwork of a transfer from another school who was trying to get a hardship waiver through the California Interscholastic Federation as a fifth-year student, Mitchell learned there was a CIF clause that might fit Alphonso's situation.

"He was never academically eligible as a freshman or sophomore because he was in the wrong classes," Mitchell said. "But it wasn't his fault. Pancho is a remedial student. The classes were too difficult. Once he was placed in the right classes, he's done well."

Mitchell is glad that Alphonso, who averaged 14 rebounds in 2006-07 and 15 rebounds last season, is getting another shot at a diploma, especially after his mother died around the end of school last spring.

"He's an icon on our campus," Mitchell said. "He helps out constantly around the school. He's a special person. You can see he's going to touch some lives."
He's also an icon at grabbing rebounds.

Add him to a lineup that includes senior scoring machine Derriq Knaules (25.6 points per game); senior defensive stopper Marschell Brumfield; sophomore point guard Eli Hudson; 6-5 junior forward Cedric Robinson and 6-4, 265-pound senior post Duane Robinson, and the Bulldogs have the talent to reach the section title game March 7 at Arco Arena.

Tonight, if they can upset Vista del Lago and Reeves Nelson and Modesto Christian win at Bear River, it'll be a guaranteed track meet Wednesday in the D-IV semifinals at Tokay High School.

"We would love to see them again in Lodi," Mitchell said. "But it's not about what they do, it's about what we do."

And what may that be?

"We like to let the horses out of the corral and let them run," Mitchell said. "We call it organized chaos. We're going to press for four quarters. We want the tempo up. We know we'll give up some points to get them into our tempo.

"But usually by the fourth quarter our opponents are a little winded."

February 27, 2009
A section girls hoops scoreboard, schedule and comments

A look at the Sac-Joaquin Section girls basketball playoffs, by division, with comment.

Division I

First round

No. 1 Kennedy 78, No. 16 Grace Davis 39
No. 9 McNair 64, No. 8 Enochs 61
No. 13 Nevada Union 52, No. 4 Napa 48
No. 5 Lodi 51, No. 12 Beyer 29
No. 3 Lincoln-Stockton 59, No. 14 Golden Valley 41
No. 6 Sheldon 42, No. 11 Davis 31
No. 7 Franklin-Elk Grove 60, No. 10 Modesto 41
No. 15 Tracy 52, No. 2 Turlock 49

Quarterfinals

Saturday at Cosumnes River College

No. 6 Sheldon vs. No. 3 Lincoln-Stockton, noon
No. 7 Franklin-Elk Grove vs. No. 15 Tracy, 1:30 p.m.
No. 1 Kennedy vs. No. 9 McNair, 3:30 p.m.
No. 5 Lodi vs. No. 13 Nevada Union, 5 p.m.

* The first real upset of note in the playoffs - boys or girls - happened here when No. 15 Tracy stunned No. 2 Turlock 52-49. Turlock gained the high seed despite not playing a difficult schedule outside the Central California Conference, and it caught up. Nevada Union also pulled a seeding upset, though the Miners hail from a much tougher league and boasts a much stronger tradition than the Indians. Kennedy, meanwhile, looks strong, led by senior forward Melody Khlok, who had 20 points in the rout of Grace Davis.

Division II

Thursday's quarterfinals

No. 1 Oak Ridge 59, No. 8 Woodcreek 30
No. 4 Grant 72, No. 5 Granite Bay 56
No. 2 St. Francis 68, No. 7 Fairfield 34
No. 6 Valley 71, No. 3 Bella Vista 56

Semifinals

Wednesday at University of the Pacific

No. 2 St. Francis vs. Valley, TBA
No. 1 Oak Ridge vs. No. 4 Grant, TBA

* The surprise so far here was Valley taking down Bella Vista, the No. 3 seed with its best team in years. The Vikings are playing well. Meanwhile, Oak Ridge steams along with no losses within the section. The Trojans are ranked high in the state and No. 3 overall in Northern California by Norcalpreps.com behind national powers Sacred Heart Cathedral of San Francisco and St. Mary's of Stockton, both in D-III. St. Francis, however, is the two-time defending section champion, having downed Oak Ridge each time. A rematch is brewing.

Division III

Thursday's quarterfinals

No. 1 St. Mary's 95, No. 9 Sonora 39
No. 4 East Union 46, No. 5 El Dorado 40
No. 3 Sacramento 60, No. 6 Vanden 52
No. 2 Del Oro 42, No. 7 El Camino 32

Semifinals

Wednesday at Galt

No. 1 St. Mary's vs. No. 4 East Union, TBA
No. 2 Del Oro vs. No. 3 Sacramento, TBA

* No surprises in this field at all as the top four seeds reached the semifinals. St. Mary's again went for 90-plus, thanks to pressure defense and depth, two nights after storming to a 72-3 lead against Livingston. No. 3 Sacramento received double-figure scoring from four players against Vanden and Del Oro was again defensively sound in shutting down El Camino. The intrigue game is Del Oro-Sacramento. The Dragons have reached the finals the last three seasons and Del Oro has lost only to D-I power Kennedy.

Division IV

Thursday's quarterfinals

No. 1 Christian Brothers 57, No. 9 Bear River 53
No. 5 Linden 47, No. 4 Hilmar 29
No. 3 Argonaut 75, No. 6 Le Grand 51
No. 7 Modesto Christian 68, No. 2 Vista del Lago 38

Semifinals

Wednesday at Tokay

No. 1 CBS vs. No. 5 Linden, TBA
No. 3 Argonaut vs. No. 7 Modesto Christian, TBA

* The surprise here is how easily Modesto Christian downed the second seed in upstart Vista del Lago. CBS is looking like the defending champion.

Division V

Thursday's quarterfinals

No. 1 Bradshaw 78, No. 8 Forest Lake Christian 27
No. 12 Ripon Christian 37, No. 4 Turlock Christian 27
No. 3 Sacramento Waldorf 52, No. 6 Lodi Academy 30
No. 1 Wilton Christian 58, No. 10 Foresthill 11

Semifinals

Tuesday at Galt

No. 1 Bradshaw Christian vs. No. No. 12 Ripon Christian, TBA
No. 2 Wilton Christian vs. No. 3 Sacramento Waldorf, TBA

* There is such a massive disparity between the top seeds and the rest in this field, per the norm over the years. It's looking like a repeat of 2008 with Bradshaw Christian preparing for rematch-hungry Wilton Christian. Wilton's last loss last season and only setback this campaign is to Bradshaw.

February 26, 2009
Boys playoff hoop results, schedules and comments

A quick look at the Sac-Joaquin Section boys basketball playoffs results and upcoming schedule, with comments (all games start at 7 p.m.).

Division I

First round

Friday

No. 16 Armijo (13-15) at No. 1 Folsom (26-1)
No. 9 Pitman (20-7) at No. 8 Enochs (20-7)
No. 12 Nevada Union (18-9) at No. 5 Merced (18-9)
No. 13 Burbank (20-7) at No. 4 Stagg (21-6)
No. 14 Kennedy (14-13) at No. 3 Golden Valley (23-4)
No. 11 Turlock (17-10) at No. 6 Sheldon (18-9)
No. 10 West (17-10) at No. 7 Franklin-Elk Grove (20-7)
No. 15 Lincoln-Stockton (17-10) at No. 2 Rodriguez (24-3)

* Folsom is eager to get it going again, having polished off a very good Delta River League field unbeaten. The Bulldogs have won 24 straight games under coach Mike Wall. The field also includes prolific guard Allen Huddleston of Merced, dangerous Kennedy and coach Robert Fong, surging Franklin and No. 2 Rodriguez, winners of 16 straight.

Division II

Wednesday's results

Rocklin 84, Valley 45
Oak Ridge 72, Manteca 71
Wood 54, Benicia 32
Pleasant Grove 66, Del Campo 56
Bella Vista 46, Granite Bay 44
Woodcreek 76, Yuba City 71
Ponderosa 69, Vallejo 57
Fairfield 61, Bear Creek 50

Quarterfinals

Friday

No. 9 Oak Ridge (20-6) at No. 1 Rocklin (27-2)
No. 5 Wood (24-4) at No. 4 Pleasant Grove (22-5)
No. 11 Woodcreek (21-7) at No. 3 Bella Vista (24-4)
No. 7 Ponderosa (22-5) at No. 2 Fairfield (22-6)

* Rocklin has won 16 straight and takes on an Oak Ridge team that squeeked by in its opener. How do the Trojans handle the Thunder's depth and size? The intrigue game of note is Wood vs. Pleasant Grove, with PG led by one of the best guards the region has seen this decade in Xavier Thames. Woodcreek is fresh off of a fourth-quarter surge that upset Yuba City and Ponderosa pits is superb defense against a fast and athletic Fairfield team that returns a lot of players from its NorCal team of a year ago.

Division III
Wednesday's results

Sacramento 91, Weston Ranch 49
Lincoln 68, River City 60
Whitney 55, Center 41
St. Mary's 51, Sierra 42
Foothill 58, Woodland 48
Natomas 96, Livingston 94 (OT)
Sonora 57, Patterson 47
Del Oro 92, El Camino 66

Quarterfinals

Friday

No. 8 Lincoln (21-7) at No. 1 Sacramento (21-6)
No. 13 St. Mary's (13-15) at No. 5 Whitney (21-7)
No. 11 Natomas (17-11) at No. 3 Foothill (21-7)
No. 7 Sonora (18-8) at No. 2 Del Oro (20-7)

* Sacramento is cruising along with a dynamic 3-guard set headed by Chase Tapley, and playing the role of defending NorCal champion. Lincoln fared well in the rugged Pioneer Valley League, but the Dragons are at an entirely different level, particularly athletically. Natomas won a thriller and now takes on a defensive team in Foothill. And lurking is Del Oro.

Division IV

Wednesday's results

Christian Brothers 70, Hilmar 57
Capital Christian 54, Calaveras 43
Colfax 50, Central Catholic 39
San Juan 48, Bret Harte 45
Bear River 59, Linden 48
Modesto Christian 99, Le Grand 30
Encina 82, Mariposa 59
Vista del Lago 76, Orestimba 34

Quarterfinals

Friday

No. 9 Capital Christian (21-6) at No. 1 Christian Brothers (19-6)
No. 12 Colfax (17-10) at No. 4 San Juan (24-4)
No. 6 Modesto Christian (19-8) at No. 3 Bear River (21-7)
No. 10 Encina (18-9) at No. 2 Vista del Lago (20-8)

* One of the deepest, most intriguing fields anywhere in Northern California, with Modesto Christian looking awfully scary as a mere No. 6 seed. The best player in the field - and perhaps any field - is MC's Reeves Nelson, a terrific 6-foot-8 forward who has put up good numbers despite a year stalled by injuries and off-the-court problems. Bear River is well coached by Duwaine Ganskie and has a super scorer in Patrick Scott.

Division V

Wednesday's results

Bradshaw Christian 81, Foresthill 58
Big Valley Christian 58, Tioga 50
Ripon Christian 82, Millennium 50
Victory Christian 84, Stone Ridge Christian 33
Sac Adventist (8-13) at No. 3 Forest Lake Christian (18-5), n
Valley Christian 75, New Life Christian 33
Sac Country Day 67, Brookside Christian 66
Sac Waldorf 66, Rite of Passage 53

Quarterfinals

Friday

No. 8 Big Valley Christian (19-9) at No. 1 Bradshaw Christian (21-6)
No. 5 Ripon Christian (16-11) at No. 4 Victory Christian (21-7)
No. 11 Valley Christian (16-11) at No. 3 Forest Lake Christian (19-5)
No. 7 Sac Country Day (14-10) at No. 2 Sac Waldorf (23-5)

* Forest Lake Christian is the defending champion, Sacramento Waldord is surging with veteran coach Dean Stark, Country Day has a super talent in Robbie Lemons and then there's the top seed in steady Bradshaw Christian.

February 26, 2009
Girls playoff basketball results, schedule, comments

A quick look at the Sac-Joaquin Section girls playoff schedule and results so far, with comments (all games 7 p.m.)

Division I

Today

No. 16 Davis (11-12) at No. 1 Kennedy (21-6)
No. 9 McNair (20-7) at No. 8 Enochs (18-8)
No. 12 Beyer (16-8) at No. 5 Lodi (20-7)
No. 13 Nevada Union (13-14) at No. 4 Napa (19-6)
No. 14 Golden Valley (14-14) at No. 3 Lincoln (20-5)
No. 11 Davis-Yolo (13-12) at No. 6 Sheldon (16-10)
No. 10 Modesto (14-10) at No. 7 Franklin-Elk Grove (19-7)
No. 15 Tracy (18-9) at No. 2 Turlock (24-3)

* Expect some horrific early blowouts for the D-I openers much like the other divisions from Tuesday. Kennedy and Turlock should meet in the finals. The Cougars and coach Brandon Yung are the defending champions.

Division II

Tuesday's results

St. Francis 69, Roseville 31
Oak Ridge 74, Rocklin 21
Bella Vista 57, Vacaville 20
Woodcreek 74, Wood 59
Granite Bay 62, Ponderosa 52
Grant 74, Pleasant Grove 49
Valley 57, Bear Creek 44
Today's quarterfinals
Woodcreek (18-8) at Oak Ridge (25-3)
Valley (18-6) at Bella Vista (25-3)
Granite Bay (19-9) at Grant (23-5)
Fairfield (17-11) at St. Francis (20-8)

* Oak Ridge and Grant are cruising toward an intruiging semifinal, though no one in the section this season has even touched the Trojans, coached by Steve White and led by Sara James. St. Francis is the two-time defending champion.

Division III

Tuesday's results

St. Mary's 99, Livingston 15
El Dorado 69, Ceres 33
East Union 75, Inderkum 61
Sacramento 78, Oakdale 33
Vanden 72, Weston Ranch 36
El Camino 44, Dixon 40
Del Oro 49, Center 23

Today's Quarterfinals

Foothill at No. 1 St. Mary's (24-3)
No. 5 El Dorado (23-3) at No. 4 East Union (26-2)
No. 6 Vanden (25-2) at No. 3 Sacramento (20-8)
No. 7 El Camino (21-7) at No. 2 Del Oro (25-1)

* Those first-round scores are hard to digest, but that's the Grand Canyon difference between the very good and the rest. St. Mary's may not get a challenge until the NorCal finals (Sacred Heart Cathedral, perhaps?). El Camino's gritty win over Dixon earned it a shot against a very good, defensive-minded Del Oro team. The Golden Eagles have lost only to Kennedy this season. The intrigue game is Sacramento and its young roster playing host to Vanden and it's core group of underclassmen in a whopper of a second-round game.

Division IV

Tuesday's results

Christian Brothers 63, Bret Harte 34
Bear River 43, Capital Christian 29
Linden 60, Colfax 47
Hilmar 51, Vacaville Christian 40
Argonaut 67, Encina 51
Le Grand 44, Hughson 26
Modesto Christian 80, West Campus 43
Vista del Lago 58, Calaveras 42

Today's Quarterfinals

No. 9 Bear River (18-9) at No. 1 Christian Brothers (22-6)
No. 5 Linden (22-6) at No. 4 Hilmar (24-3)
No. 6 Le Grand (26-2) at No. 3 Argonaut (25-3)
No. 7 Modesto Christian (21-7) at No. 2 Vista del Lago (21-7)

* CBS is the defending champion though Bear River owns more section titles than any girls team with nine. Vista del Lago is the upstart new team in the field led by a proven winner in coach Jim Stephens, who led the CBS boys and Laguna Creek boys to title success.

Division V

Tuesday's results

Bradshaw Christian 67, Big Valley Christian 17
Forest Lake Christian 57, Valley Christian 33
Ripon Christian 47, Mountain Oaks 30
Turlock Christian 50, Faith Christian 32
Sac Waldorf 53, Sac Adventist 23
Lodi Academy 52, New Life Christian 20
Foresthill 38, Trinity Prep 17
Wilton Christian 60, Victory Christian 23

Today's Quarterfinals

No. 8 Forest Lake Christian (15-10) at No. 1 Bradshaw Christian (24-4)
No. 12 Ripon Christian (11-13) at No. 4 Turlock Christian (21-7)
No. 6 Lodi Academy (18-5) at No. 3 Sac Waldorf (21-6)
No. 10 Foresthill (14-8) at No. 2 Wilton Christian (24-1)

* Forest Lake has accomplished what Bradshaw wants: a lot of section success. If it's not Bradshaw and Wilton in routs again tonight, sound the alarms. Those teams are headed for a section title rematch, won by Bradshaw (and Wilton's only loss this season was to Bradshaw).

February 26, 2009
Scoreboard and comments on boys hoop openers

The complete scoreboard for opening-round Sac-Joaquin Section boys basketball playoff action (with comments after each division).

Division I
Armijo 63, Johansen 57 (play-in game; D-I openers are Friday)

* Armijo's reward? Playing at No. 1-seeded Folsom on Friday, where the Bulldogs have not lost all season.

Division II

Rocklin 84, Valley 45
Oak Ridge 72, Manteca 71
Wood 54, Benicia 32
Pleasant Grove 66, Del Campo 56
Bella Vista 46, Granite Bay 44
Woodcreek 76, Yuba City 71
Ponderosa 69, Vallejo 57
Fairfield 61, Bear Creek 50

* Rocklin rolled as expected, Oak Ridge and Bella Vista needed late-game heroics to prevail, Ponderosa proved that even when it doesn't hold an opponent below 45, it can still win and Woodcreek pulled the surprise of opening night. Pleasant Grove earned its first playoff win.

Division III

Sacramento 91, Weston Ranch 49
Lincoln 68, River City 60
Whitney 55, Center 41
St. Mary's 51, Sierra 42
Foothill 58, Woodland 48
Natomas 96, Livingston 94 (OT)
Sonora 57, Patterson 47
Del Oro 92, El Camino 66

* A balanced division (Ok, it's Sacramento and everyone else, but still...) with some good games. How does St. Mary's enter the playoffs with a losing record and bounce Sierra? Del Oro made sure there will be a new champion as defending champ El Camino was hammered. Sacramento rolled and the Pioneer Valley League represented well with Lincoln and Whitney prevailing (and Bear River and Colfax also winning in D-IV).

Division IV

Christian Brothers 70, Hilmar 57
Capital Christian 54, Calaveras 43
Colfax 50, Central Catholic 39
San Juan 48, Bret Harte 45
Bear River 59, Linden 48
Modesto Christian 99, Le Grand 30
Encina 82, Mariposa 59
Vista del Lago 76, Orestimba 34

* More good games except Modesto Christian rolling (really, the Crusaders should be in a higher division as this is not your typical tiny school program tucked away in some small church). Encina and coach Brian Mitchell look dangerous, Vista earns it first playoff win, Colfax and classy coach Rob Pucci are still alive and Capital Christian, a year after missing the playoffs (and after reaching the D-V finals five years in a row), is also alive.

Division V

Bradshaw Christian 81, Foresthill 58
Big Valley Christian 58, Tioga 50
Ripon Christian 82, Millennium 50
Victory Christian 84, Stone Ridge Christian 33
Sac Adventist at No. 3 Forest Lake Christian
Valley Christian 75, New Life Christian 33
Sac Country Day 67, Brookside Christian 66
Sac Waldorf 66, Rite of Passage 53

* No one is allowed to scoff at the D-5 schools and show their face. The talent level is very good, superior to what it was just a few years ago. And some of the individual talent and coaching is as good as it gets anywhere in the section, at any level.
Bradshaw, Victory, Valley all rolled, as expected. Good to see Sacramento Country Day and dynamic talent Robbie Lemons survive a close one in an opener.

February 25, 2009
Boys hoop opener quick hits of note

A notebook breakdown and quick peek at some of the Sac-Joaquin Section boys basketball openers Wednesday night (Division I opens on Friday):

* Steve Taylor, coach of top-seeded Rocklin, was serious when he said he was a bit concerned going into his D-II home game against No. 16 Valley. But his experienced roster calmed any nerves by producing a 89-46 rout as Brendan Lane had 23 points and perhaps the deepest roster in the section - for any level. The Thunder have won 16 consecutive games.

* Also in the D-II bracket with Rocklin looms No. 4 Pleasant Grove, which downed No. 13 Del Campo 66-56 as Xavier Thames scored 20. The Washington State-bound Thames is one of the top point guards in the state, and he alone can dominate a game.

* Division III if officially up for grabs as defending champion El Camino was bounced out emphatically by No. 2 Del Oro 92-66. El Camino beat Sacramento for the title last season, though the Dragons recovered to win the NorCal championship a week later.

Coach Geoff Broyles has one of the youngest - and most dangerous - teams in any field with a lineup of underclassmen. The roster includes sophomore Aaron Hendricks, who ha 29 against El Camino, and there's junior wing Spencer Butterfield, who tore apart Rocklin in a Sierra Foothill League finale (though Rocklin tore apart the Golden Eagles in general).

Del Oro seeks to reach the D-III finals at Arco Arena on Friday, though the road there will not be easy with No. 3 Foothill looming (Foothill beat No. 14 Woodland in an opener).

* Speaking of Sacramento, the Dragons rolled Weston Ranch 91-49 as Chase Tapley scored 31. Tapley, of course, is just warming up, having had a brilliant playoff run last season in the postseason in securing The Bee's Player of the Year honor.

* Vista del Lago earned its first playoff victory, a new school playing beyond its years as the No. 2 D-IV seed routed Orestimba 76-34.

* Never count our a Ron Pucci-coached team. Colfax finished fourth in the Pioneer Valley League, a competitive league that includes Whitney, Bear River and Lincoln. Colfax, a No. 12 seed, eliminated No. 5 Central Catholic, a 22-3 team, 50-39 as Jeff Divine had 14 points.

February 25, 2009
Grant girls' success depends on its ability to sustain full-court press

The Grant High School girls basketball team turned in a nice performance against Pleasant Grove, winning the Division II Section first round game 74-49.

But can the Pacers have a deep run in the playoffs? It depends on their ability to sustain their full-court pressure defense. One observer says other teams will be able to handle it.

"I think Grant can challenge the likes of St. Francis and Oak Ridge," Pleasant Grove coach James McKeever said. "But Grant must play smart. Grant was able to capitalize with its full-court press against us. But I don't think St. Francis or Oak Ridge will have a problem with Grant's press if it plays one of those teams later in the playoffs."


February 25, 2009
I hope Sac High and Vanden lives up to the hype in girls hoops

I don't know about you, but I'm tired of seeing so many blowouts in high school girls basketball. Not even the first-round of the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs Tuesday could offer those thirsting for competitive matches a change.

That's why I hope Thursday's much anticipated Division III quarterfinal game between Sacramento (20-8) and Vanden (25-2) lives up to the hype. Sac High is ranked No. 3 in section by Maxpreps and Vanden is No. 6.

Sac High features the trio of junior forward Erica Barnes, the Metro League Player of the Year, junior center Kyra Dunn and junior guard Brittany Shine, while Vanden is led by sophomores Erimma Amarikwa, and Ijani Gillespie, and junior Jazmine Miller.

Sac High has won nine consecutive games since its 72-49 loss to St. Mary of Stockton, ranked No. 5 in The Bee's top 15 state poll. Vanden has won 14 straight since its 51-49 loss to Mater Dei of Chula Vista, ranked No. 14 in the state.

I'm picking Sac High to win since it's playing at home. But I would not be surprise if Vanden earns a road victory. But regardless of which teams wins, I just hope the game is competitive from beginning to end. After all, it's the playoffs and games are supposed to be close.

February 25, 2009
Beware the El Camino girls, who take on Del Oro next

El Camino showed some championship grit in rallying to beat Dixon 44-40 in a Sac-Joaquin Section girls Division III opener Tuesday.

Dixon, an upstart team in the field, had a nine-point lead in the third quarter and then lost the lead for good when Stacy Shannon hit a three late. Courtney Tenge made three free throws down the stretch for the Eagles, a darkhorse team in a field that includes heavyweights St. Mary's of Stockton, Del Oro and Sacramento.

Bill Baxter is the Eagles coach. A fixture in area coaching, he is one of the winningest coaches in state history, and one of the best guys to talk shop with. There is never a down cycle in his program, even with a rash of injuries such as this season.

El Camino, led by Alyssa Emeterio, Amanda Davenport and Shannon, now braces for Del Oro and coach Mike Takayama, who has his Golden Eagles rolling along at 25-1 and winners of 13 consecutive games. Del Oro has its best team, seemingly, in a year when St. Mary's is as good as its every been. First, there's this matter of El Camino, suddenly feeling good about rallying late.

El Camino and Del Oro have combined to reach section title games in D-II or D-III 13 times with seven titles since the early 1990s.

February 24, 2009
Encina coach says watch out for Pucci, Colfax in D-IV playoffs

Encina boys basketball coach Brian Mitchell says that if there is a team to be feared in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV boys basketball playoff field, it's Colfax and retiring coach Ron Pucci.

"You don't ever want to give Ron Pucci time to prepare or you are in trouble," Mitchell said. "He always has his kids ready to play. They've been in the section final the last three years, so his kids know how to get there and what to expect."

Colfax (16-10), which travels to Central Catholic (22-5) of Modesto for Wednesday's opener, is indeed intriguing.

The Falcons won D-IV section titles in 2006 and 2007, then lost to Modesto Christian in last season's section finale. During that three-year run, Colfax had a combined record of 85-8 and produced such stars at Devin Ginty and Scott Krizman, now playing at San Diego and UC San Diego, respectively.

But in having just three seniors on this year's roster, Colfax has taken time to develop, a key reason the Falcons are only seeded No. 12 for the playoffs.

Colfax finished 7-5 and tied for third with Lincoln in the Pioneer Valley League, a league Colfax had won the previous three seasons.

But the head-to-head battles with the Zebras were indicative of why Mitchell thinks Colfax could be a spoiler in D-IV.

The Falcons lost 63-44 at home to Lincoln on Jan. 22, then beat the Zebras in Lincoln 71-56 on Wednesday. Lincoln (20-7) is the No. 8 seed in Division III.

Add in Pucci's retirement announcement, and the Falcons have a lot of momentum going their way.

"We probably played our best four quarters of the year last night," Pucci said the day after the Lincoln win. "So we're hopeful. If we get on a roll..."

The Falcons feature a balanced lineup of seniors Jeff Divine, Ethan Guiles and Spencer Lewis; juniors Joey Jergo, Justin Witt and Kyle Greer; and sophomore Austin Oberg. Divine, a standout in football, is the team's scoring leader at 11.6 points a game.

Intensely focused on the court, Pucci tried to low-key his retirement decision. He has led Colfax's varsity teams for 19 seasons over three different stints since 1979.

"...It went by really quickly," said Pucci, 59. "But life goes by quickly. That's why you've got to enjoy it."

February 24, 2009
Which division is best in boys hoops: D-I, D-II, D-III?

We had this debate in football and why not now in hoops?

What division is best?

Division I, the large-school lads, or Division II, the almost-as-large-school lads?

In the fall, it was an overwhelming D-II decision. Granite Bay occupied The Bee's No. 1 and section ranking for the first half of the season before losing a close game to Mike Moreno and Roseville.

Then Grant moved up from No. 2 and never looked back, storming to a 14-0 season and in the Open Division State Bowl conquering nationally ranked No. 2 Long Beach Poly, every bit a large-school D-I heavyweight.

So now it's basketball season, and the playoffs are here. And so is the discussion as to who is best.

The D-I field includes Folsom, top-ranked by The Bee in the region and the section most of the season. The Bulldogs are 26-1, have lost only to powerful NorCal team Monte Vista of Danville and steamed through a very good Delta River League unbeaten. They have won 24 consecutive games and bound into the playoffs seeking a D-I section repeat.

Folsom has a talented, deep, unselfish roster headed by Tony Johnson and anchored by coach Mike Wall. The field also includes athletic Rodriguez of Fairfield, which has won 16 straight and hungers for a rematch with Folsom in the finals.

Sheldon has a proven coach in Scott Gradin, two impressive sophomores in Ramon Eaton and Darius Nelson and a steady senior guard in Marcus Jackson. And Merced has the state's second leading scorer in guard Allen Huddleston.

The D-II field includes Rocklin, winners of 15 straight and boasting of a 26-2 mark overall. The Thunder has as good of a roster, top to bottom, as any team in the section, regardless of division. Rocklin is an even more overwhelming choice to win it all in D-II again.

D-II is a more competitive division, seemingly, with No. 2 Fairfield, No. 3 Bella Vista with a group of seniors who have won 100 career games, No. 4 Pleasant Grove with standout guard Xavier Thames, Wood and coach Mark Wudel, surging Yuba City and defensive-minded Ponderosa, only a No. 7 seed.

Who would win a head-to-head matchup between the teams? Too bad it can't happen. Someone order up a pick up game for charity. In these tough economic times, who's to argue.

Brendan Lane, the Thunder's superb 6-foot-10 center, would be the difference. Then again, the Bulldogs have won every close game, draw more charges than any team I've seen in some time and played in a tougher league.

And what about Sacramento, the favorite to win it all in D-III? Is there a better guard than Chase Tapley? Is there a better guard trio than what the Dragons offer?

Sacramento is D-III in enrollment but big time in every regard otherwise, right down to coach Derek Swafford's spiffy duds.

In short, the section is well represented in the top three divisions, so much so that if all three are not crowned section champs and then make a serious run to the NorCal finals, there will be some somber team banquets.

February 24, 2009
Natomas had unbeaten SFL team in 2004 with 7-1 Rothbart

Sometimes coaches - and sportswriters - have short memories.

In beating Del Oro 78-45 Friday night, the 25-2 Rocklin boys basketball team finished the Sierra Foothill League season unbeaten at 12-0. Coach Steve Taylor said that was a first in boys basketball for Rocklin, a school that opened in 1993.

He also thought, based on a conversation with a fellow league coach, that it might be the first time a team went unbeaten in the SFL in perhaps nearly two decades.

But Natomas boys coach Dennis Foster was quick to point out that his 2003-04 Nighthawks, which featured 7-foot-1 senior transfer Robert Rothbart, finished undefeated in the SFL that season.

The Nighthawks won 17 consecutive games before falling 64-45 to Valley in the D-II semifinals at Arco Arena.

The oversight is understandable because Natomas, now in the Tri-County Conference, spent only four years in the SFL from 2002-2006.

Rothbart was a high-profile story back then, even though his stay in Sacramento was brief.

Born in Sarajevo, he immigrated to Israel for two years to escape the civil war in Bosnia. After coming to United States, he played high school basketball in Cupertino before transferring to Natomas.

In 2004, he turned down a basketball scholarship from Indiana to to play professionally in Europe. According to a Wikipedia biographical entry, he is currently playing pro ball in Israel.

February 24, 2009
Rocklin's Taylor, playoff preview highlight Prep TV program

Rocklin coach Steve Taylor is the in-studio guest on the High School Sports Xtra program that airs tonight at 7 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet.

The show will also re-air on Wednesday at 4 p.m.

Taylor has the Thunder cruising along at 26-2 and the heavy favorite to repeat as Sac-Joaquin Section Division II champions. He talks about his team and his playing days as a key cog to a championship Roseville team from 1980 that won the Northern California AA championship (this was before Roman Numerals replaced multiple A's).

The show, hosted by Gary Gelfand, produced by Jason Armenio and featuring Bee reporters, will also unveil its latest section girls and boys polls, Prep of the Week Manuel Alphonso and break down games of last week that included Rocklin, Del Oro, Encina and San Juan. Previews of the playoffs, including the Sacramento and St. Mary's girls, Folsom and Sheldon boys and others, are also part of the program.

Also, Also, the show invites coaches, administrators, players, fans and parents to nominate the Farmer's Insurance Student-Athlete Achievement Award.

The award would celebrate academic excellence, outstanding citizenship and school and community involvement. E-mail nominees to farmersaward@comcastsportsnet.com


February 24, 2009
Ponderosa a dangerous seven seed in boys D-II

No doubt Ponderosa is eager to get this thing started.

The defensive-minded Bruins of Shingle Springs are smarting a bit at their No. 7 seeding in the boys section Division II playoffs, wondering where the justice is. Well, now is the time to prove that they belong.

Ponderosa looms as a real threat in this field because it plays defense as well as any team in Northern California. Players cut off the passing lanes. They siphon off the baseline. They collapse the middle, rebound, contest shots, make steals.

The Bruins in recent weeks have posted these scores: 41-15 over Galt (after shutting the Warriors out in the first half), 48-22 over Union Mine, 36-27 over Cordova, 40-33 over Vista del Lago, 60-35 over Christian Brothers. And this is with a shot clock. And CBS is the No. 1 seed in the Division IV field. And Vista del Lago is the No. 2 seeding D-IV.

Ponderosa is led by Steve Lackeym Brad Waldow and Tyler Arstingstall. And an eager coach in Dave Millhollin.

February 24, 2009
Rocklin well prepared for D-II playoffs


Steve Taylor sent the troops to all corners of the Sac-Joaquin Section.

The boys basketball coach at Rocklin, Taylor had coaches from his freshmen and junior varsity staffs scout potential playoff foes in recent weeks. The coaches couldn't pack cameras, but they filled up notebooks as something of a crash-course on what opponents do.

"We were everywhere," Taylor said.

Rocklin plays host to Valley in an opener tonight, one of a number of teams Taylor anticipated he might draw.

It's the norm for coaches in this sport to scout several teams on the eve of the playoffs. With power rankings determining playoff seeds, one doesn't know exactly whom they might play until the seedings dust settles. And unlike football, there is no film-exchange policy.

So Taylor's crew went to Benicia, Manteca, Sacramento. They had coaching friends check out teams in Modesto, Merced and Stockton. Think economy and gas.

And no doubt, the coaches who logged the miles will be thinking smiles when their stipends come their way. And think of their satisfaction if they have teams well scouted and figured out.

February 23, 2009
Always plenty of intrigue in boys hoop playoffs

This is when it gets good, when the games really matter, when the next loss could wind up being the last game of the season.

The Sac-Joaquin Section basketball playoffs are the premiere event for the region because of the sheer volume of games, because the championship games are played at Arco Arena with the back drop of the big time.

And because they're fun. How teenagers headed to college or those playing their final games handle all manner of great expectation on the big stage of Arco, how the coaches try to outwit their foes. So many subplots.

In Division I, there's Folsom, humming along under coach Mike Wall and the steady floor leadership of the unflappable Tony Johnson. And there's the future going on right now on that roster in sophomore swing Kori Babineaux, who has all the makings of a national recruit as a receiver and do-all hoops talent.

The field also includes Sheldon and a young roster that includes sophomore big men with big skills in Ramon Eaton and Darius Nelson. The Huskies are led by the poised leadership of four-year starting guard Marcus Jackson, who is back in decent health after a scary foot injury earlier this season. And there's coach Scott Gradin, as good a coach as there is in any division. He has won two section titles, one each with Rio Americano and Sheldon.

Division II has a superb talent on a spectacular team with Brendan Lane leading Rocklin. Coach Steve Taylor, having earned a reputation as one of the top coaches anywhere, has a deep team that has played inspired, unselfish and with a desire to defend (send this memo to the Kings, someone?)

Even the smallest division, D-5, has some big-time talent.

I have been thoroughly impressed with the play of Josh Ritchart of Forest Lake Christian, the defending champion. He could start at any team in town.

And there's a Pac-10 talent some day in junior guard Robbie Lemons, a prolific scorer who also happens to be a 5.0 student (he has twice my grade-point average in my best day and 10 times better game, too).

If there's a sentimental choice in D-5, why not Dean Stark, who has coached the right way for the longest time, more than 20 years, at Sacramento Waldorf. Just the third area boys coach to win 400 games, Stark seeks his first section title.

The top seed in D-5 bears the best mascot north of the Westchester Comets: The Bradshaw Christian Pride. Mike Ruble is the coach. He also coaches the top-seeded girls team, too.

February 23, 2009
Kennedy, Oak Ridge and St. Mary's are my picks in Girls BB playoffs

Lets size up the Sac-Joaquin Section girls basketball playoffs.

Division I
Kennedy should have no problem winning a second straight D-I title. The Cougars are experienced, deep, and talented. They make up for their lack of height with great outside shooting and full-court pressure defense. Moreover, reserve junior center Shanice Butler provides a strong presence inside the key. She rebounds and blocks shots well.

Sheldon could challenge the Cougars with UC Irvine center-forward Cheyenne Cathey. Besides that, there are no other teams on the same level as Kennedy.

Division II
I like Oak Ridge in Division II because of Sara James. However, the Trojans could falter, especially if a team finds a way to contain James.

On paper, St. Francis appears to be a threat. But I doubt that threat will manifest itself on the court where the Troubadours have several players out because of injury.

Division III
Nobody will touch St. Mary's of Stockton in Division III. Neither Sacramento nor Del Oro or Vanden has a shot. In fact, I wouldn't be surprise if the Rams win their section playoffs games by 25 points or more.

So far, no team in the section can handle the Rams suffocating full-court press or thwart their stellar outside shooting. Consult Sac High for a reference. The Rams defeated the Dragons 72-49 on Jan. 17.

And no team has found a way to stop junior guard Chelsea Gray and junior forward Afure Jemerigbe. Both are national college recruits.

Division IV
Christian Brothers is my pick in D-IV. The Falcons took their licks in Sierra Valley Conference play, losing badly to Oak Ridge twice. But that should make the Falcons a monster in D-IV because they won't face a team like Oak Ridge in the section playoffs.


Division V
Bradshaw Christian should win their second section title with stellar scorer Cheyenne Williams in the line up.


February 22, 2009
A look at the section girls basketball playoffs

The Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs are here, officially starting Tuesday for the girls and Wednesday for the boys.

The girls field has talent up and down the brackets, be it individuals or teams or coaches who have done this sort of thing for years. Kennedy, Oak Ridge and St. Mary's are all rolling along in Divisions I, II and III, respectively.

Division I

Kennedy bounds into the field as the top seed and the defending champion. Coach Brandon Yung has his team, slowed a bit by injuries this season, back on track. Kennedy seeks its third successive trip to the finals. Turlock is the No. 2 seed but has not played a demanding schedule.

Division II

Oak Ridge is the overwhelming pick here as the top seed, one of the state's top-ranked teams and capable of a state-title run with coach Steve White and talented forward Sara James. No. 2 St. Francis is the defending two-time champion, having downed Oak Ridge each time, including a dramatic buzzer-beater last year.

Division III

It's St. Mary's here and well beyond as the Rams of Stockton aren't just the class of this section for all divisions but one of the top teams in the country under coach Tom Gonsalves and a host of national recruits including guard Chelsea Gray. The junior is being courted by all the top programs in the country.

St. Mary's won four section titles in D-IV and have won three in D-III, all in the last 10 seasons.

Sacramento is the No. 3 seed and Del Oro and classy coach Mike Takayama is seeded second. Sacramento won the title in 2007 and has lost twice to St. Mary's in the finals in recent seasons.

Division IV

Christian Brothers won it last season and enters the field as the top seed again. Vista del Lago is the No. 2 seed. Bear River is also in the mix, having won seven section titles as one of the state's top programs (Duwaine Ganskie coached those teams and now leads the Bear River boys).


Division V

Bradshaw Christian defeated Wilton Christian for the title a year ago, and look at this: The teams enter the field as the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds, respectively.

February 22, 2009
A quick peek at section boys basketball playoffs

It'll be hoops galore, at warp speed, from here on out.

Starting Tuesday for the girls and Wednesday for the boys, the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs will offer an army of teams scrambling for a shot to reach the finals at Arco Arena. The section released the brackets this evening (visit www.cifsjs.org for complete brackets, locations and directions to game sites).

Here's a cheat-sheet breakdown for the boys, with a more lengthy preview from The Bee coming Wednesday.

Division I

Folsom and coach Mike Wall are the defending champion with a team that bounds into the playoffs even better, and never this hot, either. With guard play, defense and the art of sharing the ball, the Bulldogs and the rest of the D-1 field open at home sites on Friday.

Folsom is 26-1 and has won 24 consecutive games. The Bulldogs seek the program's first state title since 1986, when coach Stan Harms and Bee Player of the Year Mike Doyle led the charge.

The lower bracket this season includes dangerous Sheldon, seeded sixth, and a veteran coach in Scott Gradin, who led the Huskies to the title in 2007 as a No. 12 seed. Rodriguez is the No. 2 seed.

The field also includes No. 5 Merced and the state's No. 2 scorer in Pacific-bound guard Allen Huddleston (31.6 points per game).

Division II

Rocklin is an overwhelming favorite to repeat as champion, storming along at 25-2 and becoming the first team to go unbeaten in the Sierra Foothill League since 1990 (Del Oro). Brendan Lane is the top talent and coach Steve Taylor has the Thunder playing the best ball in school history.

It's a loaded field that includes Wood, Pleasant Grove and super scorer Xavier Thames, Bella Vista and a senior core that has won more than 100 games, defensive-minded Ponderosa and Fairfield - the team that narrowly lost to Rocklin in the finals a year ago.

Division III

Sacramento and reigning Bee Player of the Year Chase Tapley are the favorites here as coach Derek Swafford has the Dragons playing well as the No. 1 seed. But if history is any indication, top seeding doesn't matter much.

It was El Camino that beat the Dragons in the finals a year ago, though the Dragons recovered to win the NorCal title (the section finalists advance to the NorCal tournament).

Del Oro is the No. 2 seed and Foothill with superb coach Drew Hibbs is the No. 3 seed. Sacramento has won the D-III title under Swafford in 2005 and 2007, and Foothill has won in 1997, 2002 and 2003.

Division IV

Christian Brothers is the No. 1 seed here with newcomer Vista del Lago at No. 2 and Bear River at No. 3 with high scoring swing Patrick Scott (25.6 points per game), the school's all-time leading scorer. Modesto Christian won the tournament a year ago with UCLA-bound recruit Reeves Nelson and loom again.

Colfax has won three section titles since 2004 under veteran coach Ron Pucci, one of the region's all-time best. He will step down at the end of this season. His top player is Jeff Divine, a star receiver in football.

Division V

Bradshaw Christian is the top seed but it is Forest Lake Christian that is the defending champion and perfectly capable of a repeat with versatile 6-foot-6 forward Josh Ritchart. Sacramento Waldorf and classy coach Dean Stark - he of more than 400 career victories - are the No. 2 seed.

In a very intriguing field, No. 7 Sacramento Country Day offers one of the state's top scorers in guard Robbie Lemons (27.8 per game).


February 20, 2009
Del Oro football could play for D-III title under section's new playoff format

Under a tweaking of the Sac-Joaquin Section's new, expanded football playoff plan, perennial D-II power Del Oro likely could compete for a D-III championship.

That's the potential scenario after the section's playoff committee late last month made several revisions to its football playoff proposal for 2010-2014.

Under the new plan, 64 teams would qualify for postseason play from divisions I through IV. They would be divided into into four 16-team brackets based on enrollment.

But unlike the original proposal, there would be no dividing line between Division I and II leagues and Division III and IV leagues.

Under the new proposal, first and second place finishers in the 20 leagues would automatically qualify for the postseason. The remaining 24 at-large schools would be selected through a process that includes total number of wins - a team must win at least two league games to be considered - and a series of tiebreakers.

Del Oro (last year's 4-6 finish was likely an anomaly) has won six D-II section championships, more than any other section school at that level. It also is a member of the formidable Sierra Foothill League, a D-II league that some believe is the best in the section.

But because of the Golden Eagles' small enrollment (Del Oro's reported enrollment at the start of this school year was 1,618 students) compared to most D-II schools, they likely will be in the middle of the D-III playoff pack, should they qualify for postseason play.

Under the new revisions, a school will be allowed to compete only one division lower than their league placement.

Another tweaking of the original proposal would have the D-IV field divided into two eight-team brackets, 4A and 4B. The eight largest enrollment schools would play in 4A and the smallest enrollment schools in 4B, with the finalists in each bracket meeting for the D-IV title.

The section is undergoing a radical changing of its playoff formats in football, baseball and several other sports because of the realization that the current pre-determined bracketing isn't working.

In football, for instance, the section lost a potential big windfall when Granite Bay and Grant, viewed as the two best teams in D-II last fall, wound up playing in the first round.

Under the new format that will seed the entrants, those two schools would have been on opposite sides of the brackets, which could have led to a higher-profile championship game at larger-venue UC Davis. Grant wound up beating league rival Burbank for the D-II title at Folsom High School.

The section also has seen teams such as 8-2 Rocklin and 8-2 Roseville fail to make the playoffs in 2007 while a 2-8 Foothill reached the postseason in 2008.

February 19, 2009
Realignment can cause some leagues to undergo big changes

As a longtime commissioner of the Capital Valley Conference, Al Hooker has seen schools come and go because of realignment.

But Hooker, in his 12th year as commissioner, isn't jaded.

He's looking forward to the new-look CVC that will begin play in 2010-11, even though he'll have only one school returning from the present league he oversees.

After the 2009-10 school year, Rio Linda will stay but Foothill, Dixon, River City, West Campus, Center and Consumes Oaks will depart for other leagues.

The CVC will then add Del Campo, Bella Vista and Casa Roble from the Capital Athletic League; Oakmont from the Sierra Foothill League; and Christian Brothers from the Sierra Valley Conference.

"It's pretty much like getting a new league," Hooker said. "Usually you get one new school or two new schools in a realignment. This is a bit unusual."

It also will be a Division II league instead of the current D-IV grouping.

In Hooker's first year as commissioner in 1996, the CVC was a D-II league that consisted of Natomas, Foothill, Center, Highlands, Mira Loma, Rio Linda, San Juan and Rio Americano.

Hooker remembers when the league, which he said was formed in 1960, consisted only of San Juan Unified School District schools. One of those was since-closed La Sierra in Carmichael, where Hooker taught and coached football.

Although realignment can produce it's share of drama as schools sometimes balk at where they are placed, often because of playoff considerations, Hooker says what is truly important is how the schools within the league stack up against each other.

That's why he thinks the 2010-2014 CVC will be a success. He sees plenty of competitive equity.

"Any time your No. 6 team has a chance of beating the No. 1 team, that's a good grouping," Hooker said. "And I think we'll have that with these schools."

While Hooker is looking forward to working with the athletic directors of the new schools he'll inherit, he says he will miss those who are leaving.

"It's been a great group," Hooker said. "Nobody takes anything personal. Everyone gets along. But I get the sense with this new group, even though we will be adding five new people, it will be a good bunch, too."

February 18, 2009
Realignment committee turns thumbs down on CVC D-III bid

Bella Vista High School vice principal Robert Wegsteen had to feel like the kid who diligently did his homework only to learn that the teacher changed what was on the test.

Wegsteen made a pitch to the Sac-Joaquin Section's realignment committee Wednesday in Stockton to put his school and five other members of a new-look Capital Valley Conference into Division III instead of D-II for the 2010-2014 school years.

Every four years, the section moves teams in and out of leagues and adds new schools to the mix in an effort - on paper at least - to maintain competitive balance.

Section commissioner Pete Saco and assistant commissioner John Williams, the architects of the latest realignment, have Bella Vista, Del Campo and Casa Roble from the current Capital Athletic League; Oakmont of the Sierra Foothill League and Christian Brothers of the Sierra Valley Conference joining holdover Rio Linda in the CVC for 2010-2014.

But most of those schools don't believe their baseball, softball, girls soccer, wrestling and golf programs will be able to compete with those schools from the D-II Sierra Foothill League (Del Oro, Rocklin, Nevada Union, Woodcreek, Roseville and Granite Bay).

The realignment committee voiced concern that if the CVC moved to D-III that would leave only the SFL and Metro Conference in D-II. That would create a six-team D-II playoff format, not considered viable. It also would make for a top-heavy D-III of five leagues.

While committee members pondered the idea of possibly dropping the Monticello Empire League from D-I to D-II; pulling up the Solano County Athletic Conference from D-III to D-II; and moving the Pioneer Valley League from D-III to D-V in place of the CVC, they eventually voted 8-1 against the CVC's request.

For Wegsteen, CVC Commissioner Al Hooker and CAL Commissioner Jim Waldman that meant a lot of work that went for naught. They only learned late in the meeting that the painstaking information gathered for the hearing - work they believed had been requested by committee chairman Chuck Edmonds - factored little into the committee's ultimate vote.

Waldman and Hooker had held a separate five-hour meeting Feb. 5 with Wegsteen and other school representatives from the CVC and CAL (Antelope, Cordova, El Camino, Mira Loma, Whitney and Rio Americano) to try to gain consensus of how the two leagues would look and what would be the best divisions for both. The CAL was already D-III but the CVC believed it, too, should be D-III.

Waldman and Hooker also collected letters from principals and athletic directors 11 of the 12 schools involved lobbying for a D-III placement for the CVC.

Casa Roble principal Chris Klyse offered a long explanation as to why his school and others in the newly crafted CVC would be a better fit for D-III. They included declining enrollment, especially within his own San Juan school district, and competitive equity differences.

"The proposed SFL looks like the old SJUSD," he wrote.

What bothered Wegsteen, he said, is that instead of focusing on what was best for the various leagues the committee was placing too much importance on the ramifications of playoffs.

"Those should be two separate issues," he said.

Other developments from the 6 1/2 hour meeting:

•The committee voted for a proposal to move Rodriguez of Fairfield from the D-I Monticello Empire League to the D-III Solano County Athletic Conference for 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons because the SCAC would have only five varsity teams the first year without the move.

•The committee voted down a request by River City to switch from the D-IV Sierra Valley Conference to the Capital Athletic League because of concerns over transportation costs.

•Took no vote on a request by Folsom to be moved out of the D-I Delta River League because of declining enrollment and into a unnamed "Division II conference."

•Took no vote on a proposal by Sheldon principal Paula Duncan to move Pleasant Grove to the Delta River League and replace with Monterey Trail or Lagana Creek or move Sheldon to the DVC and replace in the DRL with either Elk Grove or Davis because of competitive equity concerns.

•Took no vote, for the second time, on the Delta Valley Conference's request to have Grant play football only in the DVC. It asked that McClatchy be moved from the Metro into the DVC in all other sports.

The committee is scheduled to meet again March 17 in Stockton in what could be the last meeting before the proposal is sent to the section's Board of Managers for a final vote.

February 18, 2009
Signing haul for Burbank football

Talk about a great day to be a Burbank Titan.

It's today. It's now. It's this era, all things considered.

Burbank has made a sudden surge for the better on the football field this decade, a credit to coach John Heffernan, the tireless leader who says he pours every ounce of effort into his profession and pupils because it feels good, it feels right. And because he used to be one of them, a tough-minded player with tough roots and a will to overcome.

Today, a the Burbank library, five anchor players from Burbank's 2008 team will sign paper work to secure their college futures. The headliner is Miles Freeman, one of the best competitors I have ever seen in my 25 years doing this line of work.

Freeman, a quarterback by trade, a do-all talent otherwise, is off to the United States Military Academy at West Point, on the Hudson River. He will learn about the Army, being a cadet, and playing big-time football at quarterback in his free time for a triple-option team.

And his Army commitment could last a career. Freeman will be required to serve a minimum of five years on active duty upon his graduation. By signing today, Freeman has set his career in motion.

Freeman's top receiver, Anthony Larry, is off to Eastern Washington. Defensive ends Anthony Laui and Raymond Lewis will play on scholarship at New Mexico Highlands. And Lucky Dozier, a receiver/defensive back/tailback, has accepted a full academic scholarship to Grambling University.

With Freeman leading the charge, Burbank toppled Grant in the 2007 regular-season finale to secure the program's first Metro League championship in 40 years. This past fall, Grant prevailed in the Metro title game against Burbank, and Grant beat the Titans again in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II championship game.

Most lasting from those two meetings was the sportsmanship between the teams, players and coaches. The schools are similar in so many ways, and the athletes and coaches pull for each other.

February 17, 2009
Boys teams rise and fall based on section's league strength rating

Playing boys basketball in the Delta River League can be a tough test game in, game out.

But it also has huge benefits if you win.

Because of the DRL's top league strength rating of 8.2 among the Sac-Joaquin Section's 26 leagues, Sheldon has made an impressive jump in just four games.

Sheldon (16-9 overall) was 2-4 in league and No. 20 when the first section power rankings were released Feb. 2, then climbed to No. 12 Feb. 9.

But now that the Huskies have won four consecutive league games, including 53-46 over Pleasant Grove on Friday, they have moved up to No. 7 in today's final published rankings.

If the Huskies can beat Florin on Wednesday and Monterey Trail on Friday in the Delta River League Challenge, it's possible they can land a top-four spot for the playoffs.

League strength plays a huge role in the rankings.

Take Division II, for instance.

Pleasant Grove was No. 2 and Yuba City No. 4 in the Feb. 9 power ratings.

But despite losses to Folsom and Sheldon in the Delta River League, the Eagles fell only to No. 4 today.

But Yuba City, which won both its Tri-County Conference games last week, slipped to No. 7. The TCC only has a 5.8 strength rating. Wood and Benicia, which moved ahead of the Honkers, have ratings of 7.6 and 7.2, respectively.

Another beneficiary of a solid league strength rating is Bella Vista. The Broncos were at No. 6 in the Feb. 9 rankings after their controversial game against Rio Americano was posted as a loss.

But with the reversal of that result, plus two Capital Athletic League wins last week, the Broncos are now at No. 2 behind Rocklin. The CAL has a 6.5 league strength rating.

The league strength rating really hurts a team like San Juan in D-IV.

The Spartans are undefeated in league (22-3 overall) at 10-0 entering the week. Yet they have been unable to climb any higher since the first rankings were released.

While the Spartans have remained at No. 3, Vista del Lago has gone from No. 1 to No. 4 back to No. 1 despite a 7-3 league record. Christian Brothers, which was No. 1 last week before losing both its league games to fall to 6-4 in the SVC, dropped only to No. 2.

That's because Vista del Lago and CBS play in the Sierra Valley Conference, which has a 6.9 league strength rating. San Juan competes in the Golden Empire League, which is rated 4.3.

Finishing among the top four teams within the section's D-II through D-V divisions -- the D-I round II is at a neutral site -- is huge because it means the potential to host two playoff games. Those that are power rated from No. 5 to No. 8 get to host a first-round game.

Teams that finish rated No. 9 through No. 16 have to be road warriors.

February 17, 2009
Sacramento coach Derek Swafford TV guest tonight

Sacramento boys basketball coach Derek Swafford is the in-studio guest tonight on the Comcast SportsNet High School Sports Xtra at 7 p.m. (yes, the station that carries the Kings).

Swafford has led the Dragons to regional championship success this decade, including the Northern California Division III championship last March at Arco Arena. Swafford was engaging, honest and candid on how he leads his program and who he is as a coach.

High School Sports Xtra, hosted by Gary Gelfand and Bee prep reporters, will also unveil its latest Sac-Joaquin Section girls and boys basketball polls, evaluate games of note from last week (including Foothill-Rio Linda boys, Sacramento-Burbank boys, and preview games).

In addition, the hosts will break down the Prep of the Week in Sacramento's Chase Tapley, The Bee's Player of the Year from last season.

The show reairs throughout the week.

February 16, 2009
Bella Vista seniors seek 100th win against Del Campo on Wednesday

Although Bella Vista boys basketball coach David Gonzalez had to sit out Wednesday's Capital Athletic League game against El Camino, the No. 5 Broncos (22-4, 9-0) easily remained unbeaten in league.

Gonzalez, his two varsity assistants and three players had to miss the El Camino contest as punishment for their ejection from the bizarre Feb. 6 game against Rio Americano for coming onto the court after the Broncos' Justin Haley was fouled hard by the Raiders Pierce Burton with 12.3 seconds to play.

So on Wednesday, lower-level coaches Kevin Lindner and Brendan Chase filled in and the Broncos cruised to a 64-34 win over El Camino.

"That was nice," Gonzalez said. "Both coaches played for me and knew, from the coaching perspective, what to do. Having 11 seniors helps, too."

After a 66-46 win over Mira Loma Friday with Gonzalez back at the helm, the Broncos' seniors will try to collect the 100th win of their illustrious four-year run through the program Wednesday at Del Campo (16-9, 8-1) in the regular-season finale.

February 13, 2009
Pacers have two more football scholarship players

Two more Pacers are on their way.

Grant coach Mike Alberghini confirmed today that Alesana Leban and Jordan Wallace have signed letters of intent to play college football on scholarship.

Leban, a 6-foot-3, 275-pound two-way lineman, will play defense for Sacramento State. Jordan Wallace, a 6-foot, 200-pound linebacker may switch to safety at Washington, where his brother, C.J. was a four-year starter (and now plays for the Seattle Seahawks).

That gives Grant four players headed to four-year programs, with Alberghini saying there could be more in the coming weeks. Last week, on letter-of-intent day, Bee All-Metro players Kipeli Koniseti and Jeremiah Toma signed with Arizona State and Fresno State, respectively. In short, a growing good haul for a Pacers bunch that went 14-0, steamed to it's second unbeaten season in three years and finished ranked No. 6 nationally by USA Today, the highest finish for a prep football team since Cordova was No. 4 in 1979.

"It was a great day for Grant," Alberghini said.

Wallace had 125 tackles, including 22 against Granite Bay in a playoff opener, 16 against Woodcreek in a semifinal and 12 against Burbank in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II title game.

Alberghini on Wallace, "He was not on the radar as a junior because he missed some games with a thigh bruise. But this game, he played extremely well in big games. He has good size and speed to play safety, and it'll be nice for his family to go up and watch Jordan play on a Saturday and his brother C.J. on a Sunday with the Seahawks."

And Alberghini on Leban, "A great kid, a team captain. It's a great find for Sac State to get him."

February 13, 2009
Balls hope to lead San Juan boys basketball to Arco's bright lights

Jamie Ball has never been to Arco Arena.

He hopes to earn a free ticket this year as a member of the San Juan boys basketball team.

That could happen if the Spartans reach the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV championship game on March 7. That game is scheduled for Arco.

"It's my dream to be able to play on that floor," Jamie says.

He can picture it and if he needs any added color, he need only ask his twin, Julian. He's been to Arco Arena once, for a Sacramento Kings game.

"I went last year to watch Detroit play and I was speechless," Julian said. "The atmosphere is incredible.

"Now Jamie and I are always talking about Arco. We want to help our team win a section championship, something that the school hasn't done in a very long time."

The last time the Spartans played for a section title was in 1993 when prep legend Adrian "Buttermilk" Hillmen was "The Man."

Now it's the Ball twins leading the latest Spartans' title bid.

San Juan, ranked No. 13 by The Bee, is 21-3 and 9-0 in the Golden Empire League entering tonight's game against visiting Capital Christian. They also have two regular-season games remaining at Highlands Wednesday and at league rival Encina next Friday.

If they wind up among the top four in the D-IV power ratings - they are No. 3 in this week's rankings - they'll have the shot of hosting the first two playoff games. Semifinals are March 4 at Tokay High School, with the championship three days later at Arco.

"This hasn't been a dream just for Julian and me," Jamie says. "Most of us have been playing with a lot of these guys since we were at Skycrest Elementary."

The Balls were regulars at coach Eric Wohlenberg's summer basketball camps starting in the fourth grade. They continued to come to his camps even when the family moved to North Highlands for several years.

When it came time to pick a high school to attend, they opted for San Juan over larger and more prestigious schools. The Citrus Heights school, one of the oldest in the Sacramento area, has been plagued by declining enrollment.

"A lot of it was because of Coach Wohlenberg," Jamie said. "He introduced me to basketball, taught me all the fundamentals. I never had a father figure before, and I love the way he coaches."

Sheronda Ball, Jamie's and Julian's mother, thinks she made the right choice in enrolling the twins and younger sons Jordan, a junior, and Jaylen, a freshman, at the school.

The Balls rent an apartment across the street from the school so Sheronda, who works for Blue Shield of California, can keep an eye on her sons and follow their every academic and athletic pursuit.

"I remember one varsity coach telling me, 'Why do you want to send your sons to San Juan?'" Sheronda said. "He said their glory days were gone."

But she says her sons have thrived at San Juan.

"While there was some risk in going to a smaller school, we have no regrets," Sheronda said. "I think San Juan sometimes gets a bad rap for no reason. They've got good teachers. There's more of a family environment there."

Now that her two oldest boys' careers are about to wind down, Sheronda says each game gets a little more emotional for her.

"It's hard to sit in the stands and not cry," Sheronda said. "I've been watching them play since elementary school. Now with so few games left, it's going to get emotional."

Jamie and Julian hope the family can have one good cry together - March 7 at Arco Arena.

February 12, 2009
Should Folsom boys remain No. 1 ahead of Rocklin?

The Maxpreps.com boys basketball section rankings list Rocklin (22-2) as No. 1 and Folsom (22-1) No. 2.

Cal-Hi Sports has Folsom ranked higher (No. 11) than Rocklin (No. 16) in its state poll.

For four weeks now, The Bee has ranked Folsom No. 1 and Rocklin No. 2 in its area Top 20, and Friday had the Bulldogs at No. 8 and Rocklin No. 9 in its State Top 15 poll.

But Folsom barely beat an injury-depleted Sheldon team 58-56 Jan. 30 in a home Delta River League game while the Thunder has started to dominate (84-51 over No. 13 Del Oro Jan. 28 and 71-47 over No. 9 Woodcreek Jan. 30) in what was supposed to be a challenging Sierra Foothill League field.

This week the Thunder walloped Oakmont 83-35 and Roseville 84-28. Folsom beat Jesuit and Monterey Trail by more modest scores.

Should Rocklin move ahead of Folsom even though the Bulldogs haven't lost since a 58-45 setback to Monte Vista of Danville (ranked No. 13 in the state by The Bee) in a Santa Rosa tournament championship game Dec. 6?

Rocklin lost 70-67 to Fairfield in the De La Salle tournament Dec. 12 and also lost 77-66 to Eisenhower of Rialto Dec. 27 in the top division of the Holiday Classic in San Diego.

Folsom beat Fairfield 70-68 Dec. 20 in overtime in the Mel Good Tournament Championship game in Yuba City and won a lower-tier division championship at the same Holiday Classic.

Let's hear the feedback.

February 12, 2009
It may be 20 wins or bust for Burbank boys basketball playoff bid

Entering tonight's Metro Conference boys basketball game against visiting Grant, No. 6 Burbank has an impressive 18-7 overall record.

But if the Titans lose tonight, they just might not make the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I playoffs.

And that will be a shame as far as Titans' coach Lindsey Ferrell is concerned.

Because the Metro Conference got a horrible strength rating this season - 5.6 and 13th among the Sac-Joaquin Section's 26 leagues - it's made every league loss brutal.

"We might need 20 wins," says Ferrell, whose team ends the regular season on Tuesday against Hiram Johnson. "We might have to finish 8-2 in league; 7-3 might not be enough."

Because of enrollment, Burbank is a D-I school.

Their two top rivals Grant, tied with the Titans for second at 6-2, is D-II and Sacramento, the league leader at 7-1 after beating the Titans for the second time on Tuesday, is in D-III.

League losses hurt a little more because league games factor 70 percent into a team's power ranking to just 30 percent for preseason games. Combine that with a 10-game league schedule and a lousy strength rating and the Titans find themselves on the playoff bubble.

They were No. 13 in the first power rankings released Feb. 2 and No. 10 in this week's rankings. But a loss tonight to Grant would give them back-to-back league defeats, which could drop them below the top 16 playoff qualifiers heading into the final week of the regular season.

Ferrell, who coached the girls program for 13 seasons before taking over the boys team last year, says he's never seen a lower power rating for the Metro.

"We took a big hit," said Ferrell, who attended this year's section committee meeting that established league strengths. "It's very discouraging."

He says Metro teams were penalized for an overall poor preseason record, but noted that teams such as McClatchy, Johnson and Rosemont continued "to play the heavyweights" while Grant lacked its contributing football players because they were busy preparing for the California Interscholastic Federation state bowl game.

Yet Ferrell said the Metro went a combined 6-1 in the preseason against the Capital Athletic League. Yet the CAL still got a 6.5 strength rating, four rungs higher than the Metro.

With a better strength rating last season, a 19-8 Burbank team hosted a first-round playoff game. The Titans barely lost to Rodriguez of Fairfield, which wound up losing to Folsom for the D-I section title at Arco Arena.

"Rodriguez won their league last year but they had to play on the road because their league strength then was like ours is this year," Ferrell said. "Now they have a much better rating (7.2)."

Ferrell certainly feels his team is playoff deserving.

Super-quick 5-11 junior guard Terrance Mitchell has developed into an offensive force (16.4 points per game) who is fun to watch while junior lefty Ken Holloway and senior Aarron Bean also are double-figure scorers.

They are complemented by 6-6 senior center Aaronson Ware, 6-2 junior Gabriel Barnes, 6-1 junior Marquis Golden and 6-3 sophomore Vick West.

Regardless of what happens tonight, Ferrell has only reinforced his reputation as one of the area's top coaches. His girls teams made the playoffs 10 consecutive seasons and won the D-II section title in 2004, before he transitioned to boys last season and led them to the playoffs one year they went 4-21.

And the best may be ahead with only three seniors graduating and a solid group competing at the JV level.

"We're headed in the right direction," Ferrell says.

February 10, 2009
Sheldon climbs to No. 12 in latest boys basketball power ratings

With wins over Florin and Jesuit last week, Sheldon has moved back into the playoff picture in the latest Sac-Joaquin Section boys basketball power ratings.

The Huskies were No. 20 among Division I teams in the first rankings released Feb. 2.

But the two wins, combined with the Delta River League's top strength rating in the section, enabled the Huskies to climb to No. 12 in this week's rankings.

The top 16 teams in each of the section's five divisions advance to the postseason.

Folsom (D-I), Rocklin (D-II), Del Oro (D-III) and Bradshaw Christian (D-V) remained the top seeds in their respective divisions.

Vista del Lago, No. 1 last week in D-IV, fell to No. 4 in this week's rankings after Sierra Valley Conference losses to Christian Brothers and Ponderosa.

Christian Brothers has taken over the top spot in D-IV, followed by No. 2 Bear River and No. 3 San Juan.

Defending CIF D-III NorCal champion Sacramento moved from No. 5 to No. 3 this week in D-III.

February 10, 2009
Vista del Lago enjoys impressive varsity debut season despite recent setbacks

Ponderosa boys basketball coach Dave Millhollin says that Vista del Lago is not a typical first-year varsity program.

Eagles coach Jeff Bridges would agree, to a point, of his nine-man lineup of all juniors.

"Some of that is true in that we've got a lot of kids who played together for a long time," Bridges said of his largely AAU-tested bunch. "But it's still been an adjustment coming from the JV level."

Last season, in the school's first year of existence, the program went 24-1 as JVs under then coach Steve Scott, who led the Oak Ridge boys team of Ryan Anderson and company to the California Interscholastic Federation Division II state championship in 2005.

When Scott got a district layoff notice last spring he decided to take a teaching job at El Dorado High School in his old district. Bridges, an Ohio transplant, who coached at Union Mine last season, replaced him.

The coaching transition appears to have gone smoothly.

The Eagles started impressively in going 10-5 in the preseason and leading the Sierra Valley Conference through the first half of the season.

But the reality of playing without seniors has started to set in.

The Eagles (16-8) have lost three of their last four games heading into Wednesday's game at Galt.

"We've got to go through some of these bumps to get better," Bridges said after the Eagles lost 40-33 to Ponderosa at home Friday night. "We're still happy with where we are at."

At 6-3 in league, Vista del Lago is still in the title mix with 7-2 Ponderosa and 6-2 Oak Ridge and Christian Brothers. With three league games left to play, the Eagles are a lock for the postseason.

Because there is no senior class, Vista del Lago is competing this season at the Division IV level. The Eagles are currently at No. 4 in the power ratings, dropping from No. 1 last week. But if they can hold that spot, they would have the potential to play two playoff contests at home.

That would be huge for the Eagles because they get good student and community support at the hilltop Folsom campus. Their beautiful gym fills up nicely when they play.

"It's an exciting atmosphere," said Bridges, who coached last year at Union Mine. "We have a definite home court advantage. No doubt winning helps."

The Eagles feature a group that complements one another well.

Hayden Lescault, a 6-foot-3 swing, leads the team in scoring at 13.2 points a game. Marques White (11.7 ppg, 7.6 rebounds per game), a 6-3 forward and Vanden-transfer Demarcus Wishom (11.6 ppg, 6 rebounds), a 6-4 forward, work inside while 5-9 Jaqyai Wiley (46 steals) plays the point.

With just nine healthy players, there is plenty of playing opportunity to go around.

The Eagles have played well despite the loss of key shooting guard Spencer Hatten, who tore his Achilles' heel in the team's first game and had surgery two weeks ago.

"We have to be careful in our practices," Bridges said.

Although expectations no doubt were lofty coming off a 24-1 JV season, Bridges says he doesn't feel any external pressure.

"Any pressure is what I put on myself," Bridges said. "I think our administration and athletic director understand what a difficult transition it is to go from the younger levels to the varsity.

"We're competing every night against seniors at Ponderosa, Oak Ridge and other schools. The kids have been put into tough situations that they haven't been through before. All in all, I'm happy with the way things are going."

He thinks however Vista del Lago finishes this season it will be special for this group of players.

"Everything we do, good or bad, is a school record, which is fun," Bridges said. "For the kids, this is their chance to put their stamp on the program. They have a chance to set the standard for what will come in the future."

February 5, 2009
'Trickle down effect' may help Casa Roble football stars move on

As much as he doesn't like it, Casa Roble football coach Norm Ryan thinks a handful of his talented players are going to have to depend on the trickle down effect if they hope to move on to a four-year college on scholarship.

Only Portland State-bound linebacker Jaycob Shoemaker from the 13-0 Sac-Joaquin Section D-III champions signed a National Letter of Intent on Wednesday.

Still waiting to see what falls off the recruiting tree are Bee All-Metro first team selectees 5-9, 180-pound running back Matt Satchwell, 5-11, 295-pound center Tyler Kenobbie and 6-1, 180-pound wide receiver Tristan Baer.

All were viewed as a tad too small for a major-college offering.

"I imagine there will be some schools sniffing around Thursday and beyond, and that there will be some trickle down," Ryan said Tuesday night.

He thinks Satchwell, Kenobbie, Baer and second-team selectee Jimmy Flint, a 6-3, 250-pound lineman, all have the ability to be four-year players.

Ryan said that Baer, an outstanding student, will have some good options, with small schools in Oregon and Southern California showing strong interest.

"He's got a 4.4 (grade-point average), so with his combination of grades and ability, he's got what people want," Ryan said.

Satchwell had a chance to walk-on at Sacramento State but Ryan believes his star running back is scholarship-caliber at that position. He said some schools were interested in Satchwell as a defensive back, but the senior prefers to stay on offense.

Ryan said Flint has had interest from Nevada and Humboldt State but may attend American River College to gain some more experience.

The guy Ryan feels most for is Kenobbie, one of the area's most dominant prep linemen. But at 5-11, he's coming up short on the so-called eye-ball test.

"It even got to the point that some college recruiters started asking about his wing span," Ryan said. "Sometimes a kid won't be that tall but he has a longer arms. Unfortunately, Tyler ends up bad on that, too."

As for Shoemaker, The Bee's Defensive Player of the Year, Ryan thinks he made a good decision in going to Portland State.

Bigger schools were interested in Shoemaker if he'd be willing to switch positions from linebacker to strong safety. Some recruiters think that at 6-1, 235 pounds, he might not be tall enough or big enough to play the position successfully in college.

"Shoe was adamant about playing linebacker, and that's where Portland State wants him," Ryan said.

Ryan said Shoemaker plans to graduate early from Casa Roble in order to attend spring practice.

Despite this year's disappointment, Ryan thinks his team's historic run plus Grant's winning the California Interscholastic Federation Open Division state bowl game will only help raise the Sacramento-area's recruiting profile.

"Grant has done some good for us," Ryan said. "Maybe not immediately, but down the road."

February 5, 2009
Injuries could hamper St. Francis' run at a third straight section title

The thought of the St. Francis High School girls basketball team winning a third straight Sac-Joaquin Section Division II title looks bleak after Troubadours coach Vic Pitton told The Bee Thursday some of his key players are injured.

Marissa Mar, who hit the game-winning three-point shot to clinch a 56-53 victory over Oak Ridge in last season's D-II final, will not play the rest of the season due to a knee injury she suffered during the summer. She made a brief comeback last week, but was unsuccessful.

Senior guard-forward Camille Anderson is out for the remainder of the season because of a knee injury and junior guard-forward Hillary Trauth is out for the rest of the season with a broken finger.

Senior center Jane Peterson has missed the last four games with a knee injury, but is expected to return in 10 days.

St. Francis, ranked No. 4 by The Bee, is 14-8 overall and 5-0 in the Delta River League.

February 4, 2009
Recruiting a more complicated game than in Gimenez' playing days

Whitney coach Mike Gimenez marvels at how much the football scholarship game has changed since his days as a stellar but not overwhelmingly recruited quarterback at Woodland High School.

"I was just a dumb high school kid then," said Gimenez, who played on scholarship at Colorado State. "We didn't have the internet or the combines. You didn't have kids verbally committing as sophomores and juniors."

Gimenez recalls having a recruiting trip lined up to Arizona State, only to be told the day before to forget about it. Another QB had been offered a scholarship.

So when he toured Fort Collins, Colo., and was offered a scholarship, he jumped at it.

In December of 1990, Gimenez ran for a touchdown and passed for a score in leading the Rams to a 32-31 win over Oregon in the Freedom Bowl in Anaheim, completing a 9-4 season in the school's first bowl appearance in 42 years.

"I was lucky I had my college paid for," Gimenez said.

Although his Whitney team went 13-0 and won the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV title this season, none of his players got an offer of a free education on Wednesday. That included Bee Offensive Player of the Year Zack Graves, a running back most recruiters see as too small at 5-foot-9 and 168 pounds to play at the next level.

Gimenez understands what's happening, even though he doesn't necessarily like it. There are fewer colleges playing football in California then when he was a prep and thus fewer scholarships available.

With the huge amounts of money at stake, recruiters are less willing to risk their reputations on athletes who are undersized or a step too slow.

"It's a lot easier when you are 6-5 and 300 pounds to get a scholarship," Gimenez said.

And with the potential to lose scholarships should players drop out of school, colleges are less willing to take a risk on an athlete on the academic bubble.

"They want to make sure kids are going to stay in the program for four or five years," he said. "They are making sure they have kids of quality that are going to stay academically eligible."

February 4, 2009
McCarthy of CBS off to Harvard

Matt McCarthy had interest and offers from Big Sky Conference schools, but in the end, he liked the idea of the Ivy League.

The Christian Brothers offensive lineman announced that he is off to Harvard, having been accepted by one of the top academic schools in the country, and yes, he plans to continue football.

It's a crowning moment for a player who overcame injuries his senior season and stuck to his goal of getting pushed academically. He'll find that at Harvard, to be sure.

February 4, 2009
Laguna Creek's Nill could walk on

Sean Nill was hoping for better news, and so was his father and coach, Mark.

Nill is the senior defensive lineman who could not be handled one-on-one - or sometimes with double coverage - in leading Laguna Creek's best team. He was fast and ferocious in the trenches, tireless and fearless. But his recruiting tag? Too small.

No scholarship came his way today, but he has been offered a chance to walk on - and later earn a scholarship - to Sacramento State, Fresno State and Weber State. He is also considering other schools, as he is just as good of a scholar as he is a football brawler.

February 4, 2009
Burbank's Freeman still not sure where he will go

Miles Freeman didn't sign a letter of intent Wednesday, but true to his nature, he thought of others.

The senior quarterback ace for Burbank was thrilled to announce that receiver teammate Anthony Larry is off to Eastern Washington, and that he was delighted to hear that another longtime pal, Grant leader Kipeli Koniseti, was off to Arizona State.

As for Freeman? No news.

Several schools are interested in Freeman, with his size and skills and tenacity and grades. He also hopes to play baseball in college, not that every college wants to hear that. Still, he is flying to Annapolis, MD. on Friday for a visit with the Naval Academy football coaches.

Freeman is also still talking to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Grambling.

"I'll go somewhere," he said. "I might just have to see what happens in baseball."

February 4, 2009
Barrett's hard work pays off with Sac State football scholarship

Sacramento High School is known as a basketball school, but the football program got a little boost today when senior defensive tackle KeiVaughn Barrett signed a national letter of intent to play football for Sacramento State.

Barrett, an All-Metro Conference first team selectee and a Bee honorable mention selection, signed his full-ride scholarship offering during a morning ceremony in front of friends, family, faculty and classmates at the Oak Park charter school.

"I think it's great for him," said Sac High coach Doug Cosbie. "We always talk about how you have to work hard and have passion for what you do. The light bulb went on for him. He got his grades up and worked really hard in the classroom and on the football field."

At 6-foot-4, 289 pounds, Barrett played both ways and had nine quarterback sacks for a team that went 3-7. Barrett also was a member of Sac High's 2007 team that finished 7-4, its first winning season in 15 years.

But Cosbie said Barrett showed his character this season on a team that played below its potential.

"He really matured as a leader," Cosbie said. "Even when we were struggling, he continued to play hard. I think he serves as an example that if you have some ability and work hard, good things can happen."

Cosbie thinks that Sac State coach Marshall Sperbeck has gotten a player with a huge upside.

"His best football days are ahead of him," Cosbie said. "He's just started to tap into his potential. Being that he's staying local, he's going to be a fun player to watch get better."

February 4, 2009
West Point recruitment intrigued Rio Americano's Burton

Rio Americano defensive lineman Pierce Burton admits he was intrigued by the United States Military Academy's recruitment of him.

The senior, who signed a national letter of intent today with San Jose State after de-committing from Hawaii, said he enjoyed his trip to West Point, N.Y., Jan. 24 and 25.

He was even more impressed that new Army head coach Rich Ellerson flew out to see the 6-foot-7, 250-pound senior play for the Raiders in a basketball game Jan. 27.

"I really was interested in the type of education I could get at West Point," said Burton, who has a 3.6 grade-point average and excellent test scores. "I loved everything about the school, the coaches were great and I had no problem with it being military based.

"But I just didn't want to have my schedule set for the rest of my life. There's the military commitment after graduation, and as a West Point grad there's a good chance of working on Wall Street.

"I'm the type of person who wants to roll with the punches ... to have more ability to chose what I want to do."

February 4, 2009
Football letter of intent for preps/JCs under way

Signing day is has come and gone

Scores of prep football players put their names down on the most important documentof their young lives today. Three Folsom players, three Granite Bay athletes, two Rio Americano anchors and two Grant stars head the list of athletes who signed national letters of intent in accepting full scholarships.

A closer look at the high school and local community college players and where they are headed (high school players who signed scholarship deals only)

High schools

Name / Pos. / High school / College / Ht. / Wt.
Brandon Babineaux / WR / Folsom / UNLV / 6-4 / 190
KeiVaughn Barrett / DL / Sacramento / Sac State / 6-4 290
Andrew Benavides / WR / Folsom / Idaho State / 5-9 / 175
Pierce Burton/ DL / Rio Americano / San Jose State / 6-7 / 250
David Graves / QB / Folsom / Hawaii / 6-1 / 195
Thomas Haney / DL / Granite Bay / Humboldt State / 6-1 / 230
Kipeli Koniseti/LB/Grant/Arizona State/6-3/220
Anthony Larry/WR/Burbank/Eastern Washington/6-3/235
Mason Magleby / QB / Del Oro / Nevada / 6-1 / 190
Colton Paulhus / DL / Granite Bay / Idaho State / 6-2 / 265
Eric Pinkins/DB/Inderkum/San Diego State/6-0/ 180
Trevor Peterson / TE/FB / El Dorado / Boise State / 6-4 / 240
Jack Reynoso/DT/Del Oro/Nevada/6-3/270
Jaycob Shoemaker / LB / Casa Roble / Portland State / 6-1 / 235
Chad Tannenbaum / OL / Rio Americano / Sac State / 6-3 / 300
Brett Thompson / WR / Oak Ridge / BYU / 6-3 / 195
Jeremiah Toma/LB/Grant/Fresno State/6-1/220
Corey Vanderbeek/DB/Granite Bay/Sac State/5-10/170

Community Colleges
American River College

Jay Redic/DB/Sac State/6-0/185
Steven Halverson/LB/Weber State/6-0/220
Ben Chandler/LB/Henderson State/6-4/240
Tim Duran/LB/West Virginia State/5-10/230
Daniel Srch/OL/West Liberty State/6-1/270
Stephon Ceaser/Athlete/Texas A&M Kingsville/5-7/175
David Little/LB/Tusculum College/6-2/235
David Weld/WR/Midland College/5-9/185
Zack Feuerbach/LB/Midland College/6-3/230
Niko Wright/DB/University of Saint Mary/5-10/190

Sacramento City College

Akiem Hicks/ DL/LSU/6-4/310
Kevin Watts/DB/Portland State/5-11/190
Matt Hansen/OL/Kansas State/6-0/290
Jon Krebs/TE/Sac State/6-3/235
Rocky Sparks/OL/Arkansas Tech/6-3/280
Mannix Tautolo/DL/Arkansas Tech/6-0/320
Brian Crew/OL/Stoney Brook/6-4/305
Coam Hansen/LB/NW Oklahoma State/6-3/235
Chad Williams/DB/Midwestern State/6-1/210
George Leshinsky/DE/Humboldt State/6-1/235
Jeremy Blair/DB/Lincoln University/6-2/210
Josh Boudreaux/QB/Arkansas Pine Bluff/6-5/220

Sierra College

Bryson Littlejohn/LB/Oregon/6-2/230
Lamon Muldrow/RB/San Jose State/5-1/215
Michael Grant/DB/UNLV/5-11/185
Sitani Tupou/Central Missouri/6'4/295/
David Peterson/OL/Central Missouri/6-3/290

February 4, 2009
The Klier method to a women's soccer scholarship

Most of the focus on National Signing Day goes to football. And it's understandable considering college football is one of the nation's top sports. But some of the attention should go to women's college soccer and Molly Klier's signing with the University of Portland.

It's a marriage between one of the nation's top women's programs and one of the nation's top recruits.

The union materialized, despite Klier, a senior at St. Francis, playing just two years of high school soccer.

Women's soccer is a sport where college coaches say club soccer is a more fertile recruiting ground. Coaches prefer to attend prestigious club tournaments showcasing several elite players than make numerous trips to various high school games.

Klier played at St. Francis as a freshman and sophomore but quit last season in favor of her club team, the San Juan Spirts of 91 Blue--Under 19 girls.

Klier committed to Portland, which finished the 2008 season ranked fifth nationally, two years ago. She was discovered playing the club game. So her decision to play club soccer instead of the high school game paid off in a huge way on Wednesday.

February 4, 2009
Thompson off to BYU to follow Oak Ridge WR tradition

Brett Thompson was good as a sophomore.

So good, in fact, that BYU offered him a scholarship.

Of course, he couldn't sign anything on the spot and ditch Oak Ridge High School and his parents in El Dorado Hills and take off for Provo. But he can now.

The receiver who overcame a rash of injuries in 2008 signed his letter of intent with BYU today. He plans to play his freshman season and then take a two-year mission, a package that attracted him to the high-profile Cougars in the first place.

Austin Collie, for example, said he benefited from his Mormon experience, and he followed that with a stellar receiving career for the Cougars. The former Oak Ridge standout led the country in 2008 with more than 1,500 yards receiving in setting a host of school records.

Now it's Thompson's turn. And to be sure, the families of Collie and Thompson will be updating one another. The families are close, so much so that Thompson is dating Taylor Collie,the younger sister of Collie.

February 4, 2009
Magleby off to Nevada to run "pistol" offense

Del Oro didn't have a monster season after producing so many championship seasons this decade, but that didn't slow Mason Magleby one bit. Nor did it scare any recruiters away, the theme being this: if you're a player, you'll play in college.

Magleby emerged as a leader in 2008 for the Golden Eagles, impressing in summer passing leagues and then establishing himself as one of the top quarterbacks in the Sac-Joaquin Section.

Magleby's ability to throw and run made him a recruit, and it became official this morning when he signed his letter of intent to play at Nevada, which has had a host of local quarterback products over the years, including Jeff Tisdel of Christian Brothers in the 1970s, Eric Beavers of Davis in the 1980s and Chris Vargas of Woodland from the 1990s.

Nevada coach Chris Ault prefers the "pistol" offense, and that's a system that seemingly fits the skills of Magleby.

February 4, 2009
Pinkins: From not liking football to loving it to San Diego State

Eric Pinkins loves his sport now.

The defensive back from Inderkum needed time to appreciate the rigors of football growing up in Georgia, and then getting his introduction to pads and cleats as a 10-year old playing for the Sacramento Raiders.

Now he's off to San Diego State to play defensive back, having signed his national letter of intent this morning. And there are worse places to attend college than San Diego, where he will be able to peek outside of the dorm and classroom windows and catch a glimpse of the sand and surf.

Pinkins and his family are especially pleased to have kept pace academically throughout his high school years, as he took summer classes to get ahead or to improve grades, turning them from solid to superb.

February 4, 2009
Folsom football trio on their way

It wasn't anything fancy at Folsom this morning.

Two receivers signed their national football letters of intent to run scholarship routes at the next level, and the ace quarterback did the same a little while later. They signed papers, fed them into fax machines, then exhaled.

The Folsom trio of passer David Graves - The Bee's Player of the Year - and pass catchers Andrew Benavides and Brandon Babineaux was among the highlights for signing day.

Graves is off to Hawaii to run the spread offense, of which he was the master this past fall in leading Folsom to a 9-1 regular season and accounting for 51 total touchdowns in one of the most outrageous statistical seasons in Northern California history. Graves burst onto the scene after playing - of all positions - receiver in 2007. His skills, his instincts and the ability to make all the throws made him a recruit.

"I think I will fit right in at Hawaii,'' Graves said. "I am totally at peace with this."

Benavides will suit up for Idaho State of the Big Sky Conference, a rival of Sacramento State. Not the tallest guy on any roster, Benavides - 5-foot-9 and 170 pounds - just happens to be as fast as they come. His ability to avoid tacklers in the spread and pull away made him a find for Idaho State.

Babineaux, meanwhile, is a tall target at 6-4 and 190 pounds. He said he instantly loved the feel and offense and the academic programs at UNLV.

"It'll be fun to follow our careers,'' Babineaux said. "We're all pretty excited."

February 4, 2009
Two Grant football players expected to sign scholarships offers

It appears the Grant High School football team's victory over Long Beach Poly in the California Interscholastic Federation State Champions Open Division Game helped two of its star players earn scholarships.

Pacers coach Mike Alberghini told The Bee Monday that linebacker Jeremiah Toma will sign with Fresno State later today and quarterback Kipeli Koniseti will sign with Arizona State on Thursday.

Koniseti was second in the Metro League in passing with 1,366 yards and fifth in rushing yards with 777.

Toma led the Metro in tackles with 165. Both helped the Pacers finish the 2008 season with a 14-0 record.

February 4, 2009
Large scholarship signing parties scheduled at three area sites

A number of ceremonies will be held today as area high school scholarship athletes sign their NCAA National Letters of Intent.

Granite Bay High School will hold a signing ceremony 7:45 a.m. in the Career Center for at least 16 college-bound athletes.
They are:

• Madison Smith, softball, Montana State-Billings
• Christy Johnson, volleyball, Georgetown
• Alexis Knudtson, girls soccer, UC Davis
• Sarah Kendall, girls soccer, Creighton
• Ryan Hollingshead, boys soccer, UCLA
• Chris Gaschen, boys soccer, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo
• Jack Powell, boys volleyball, Long Beach State
• Spencer Hamby, boys water polo, Pepperdine
• Matt Wylder, boys water polo, UC Davis
• Shannon Adkins, swimming, Pepperdine
• Jillian Garton, girls water polo, Stanford
• Michelle Slagle, water polo, Loyola Marymount
• Haley Anderson, swimming, USC
• Colton Paulhus, football, Idaho State
• Thomas Haney, football, Humboldt State
• Ryan Loder, wrestling, Northern Iowa
• Corey Vanderbeek, football, Sacramento State

FOOTBALL WITH C-WEBB
Steve Christian and Eric Thompson of True Grit Sports will hold a mock signing party and dinner 7:30 p.m. tonight for all area football recruits at Center Court With C-Webb, Chris Webber's Natomas restaurant.

Arena Football League quarterback legend Aaron Garcia, a former Grant High School star, will be among the guest speakers.

Christian said that all area football players and their families are invited. Area television stations and reporters also have been invited.

Christian and Thompson, who have sons playing college football at Hawaii and Boise State, respectively, held a party last year for eight football signees and decided to make it an area-wide event.

"We did it last year and the kids loved it," Christian said. "It made them feel special, and it's a fun way to honor the athletes."

Athletes looking for more information can call Christian at (916) 529-9137.

SOCCER SIGNINGS IN FOLSOM
The San Juan Spirits of '91 Blue U-19 girls competitive team, made up of many of the area's top girls soccer players, will hold a signing ceremony tonight at BJ's Restaurant in Folsom.

Those expected to sign are:

• Abby Puente, Loretto, Long Beach State
• Alexis Knudtson, Granite Bay, UC Davis
• Hannah Davidson, St. Francis, Indiana University
• Kortney Agdeppa, Lodi, Pacific
• Laura Nasseri, Rio Americano, Creighton
• Molly Klier, St. Francis, Portland
• Sarah Kendall, Granite Bay, Creighton
• Kelsey O'Donnell, Oak Ridge, Sac State
• Victoria Thomas, St. Francis, UC Santa Barbara

February 2, 2009
Sheldon, Jesuit face challenge to make boys basketball postseason

The Sac-Joaquin Section released its first boys basketball power ratings today and there are a few surprises among the teams not currently among the top 16 postseason qualifiers in divisions I-V.

They include Sheldon at No. 20 in D-I and Jesuit at No. 21 in D-II.

Here's the top four teams in each division:

D-I - 1. Folsom, 2. Rodriguez, 3. Merced, 4. Golden Valley.

D-II - 1. Rocklin, 2. Fairfield, 3. Pleasant Grove, 4. Bella Vista.

D-III - 1. Del Oro, 2. Foothill, 3. Sierra, 4. Livingston.

D-IV - 1. Vista del Lago, 2. Christian Brothers, 3. San Juan, 4. Bear River.

D-V - 1. Bradshaw Christian, 2. Forest Lake Christian, 3. Sacramento Waldorf, 4. Victory Christian.

Under the section's formula, league games count for 70 percent and nonleague games for 30 percent of a team's rating.



About the Prep blog

Bee staff writers Joe Davidson and Bill Paterson provide news, analysis and insight on the area high school sports scene in their Prep Blog. Have a question to ask them? Send them an email any time at jdavidson@sacbee.com or bpaterson@sacbee.com.

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