At first, it looked like Center had no answer for Del Oro's talented Spencer Butterfield.
The aggressive 6-3 senior guard made his first four shots and had 15 points by halftime in giving third-seeded Del Oro a 40-34 halftime lead in Friday night's Sac-Joaquin Section Division III boys basketball quarterfinal in Loomis.
"Spencer Butterfield is a great player," said Center's 6-8 post Connor Haysbert, who had 20 points. "He is going to score points."
But sixth-seeded Center, which won 79-73, made some second-half changes to try to contain the terrific offensive force, and it largely worked as Butterfield struggled to get shots in the second half, although he continued to work hard on the boards and would finish with 14 rebounds.
Butterfield made only one of six shots in the last two quarters. Even though he wound up with a team-high 19 points, Butterfield connected on only two of his last 10 shots from the field.
"We were in a little bit of a quandary at halftime," Center coach Ray Gagnon said. "Do we go drastic measures like a triangle and two; do we put a double team on Butterfield; or do we just play our solid team defense?"
Gagnon decided to stay the course with just a single defender on Butterfield. But instead of allowing him to feast on baseline moves and perimeter kickouts, Gagnon ordered primary defender Chad Haysbert to funnel Butterfield toward the key, where there was more help.
"By doing that it forced him to have to go through three guys instead of one," Gagnon said.
The 6-7 Haysbert, the younger brother of Connor, guarded Butterfield most of the night.
"Chad actually did a good job in the first half, but Butterfield was unbelievably hot," Gagnon said. "Chad stepped up and stopped him the second half."
Del Oro shot better than 50 percent from the floor in the first half, but was just 10 of 28 in the final two quarters. Half of those, however, were three-pointers -- Del Oro made 11 total --and the Golden Eagles also were 8 of 10 from the foul line.
"You look at when they were ahead in the second half, and it's because they were making free throws and we weren't," said Gagnon, whose team was just 11 of 19 from the foul line after going 9 for 11 in the first half.
Center, The Bee's top-ranked team, took the lead for good, 58-57, on an Eliot Hearld basket with 6:19 to play but the Cougars never could shake the Golden Eagles, largely because Aaron Hendricks made 10 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter, including a couple of three-pointers, despite being sick with the flu.
Del Oro was down 75-73 with 49 seconds and had the ball but missed its final four shots. Herald, who had a game-high 24 points, countered with a layup off a long outlet pass from Daniel Smith and Andres Martinez added two free throws to finish with 15 points.
Herald said playing Del Oro was a great challenge but also a grind.
"It was frustrating when they kept making those threes," Herald said. "But you've got to stay composed. Composure, composure, composure is what the coaches keep stressing. We battled, and we made one stop at a time."
Also helping get those stops was Conner Haysbert. He made 8 of 14 shots from the field and four of seven from the foul line, battled on the boards and scrambled after loose balls even though he was playing with a sprained left ankle suffered during practice Tuesday.
"It's a little tender, but once I got going it didn't matter," he said. "I wanted to help my team. It's my last year of basketball, so you play through the pain."
Gagnon credited trainer Kelly Luse for getting Haysbert ready.
Although Haysbert was on crutches during most of Wednesday and sat the first half of the Cougars' first-round 60-58 playoff win against Pioneer later that night, he eventually asked his way into the lineup in the second half.
He had just four points, but he helped contain Pioneer's 6-6 standout James Tillman, who finished with 28 points.
"He was hobbling around, but he still was able to challenge shots," Gagnon said. "He gave us another big body, which we needed."
Gagnon expected his team would play a lot better on the road against third-seeded Del Oro than at home against Pioneer, an 11th seed.
"I feel we can play anbody, anywhere," he said before Friday night's game. "I think playing at home Wednesday was a distraction. The place was packed, and everybody was worried about Connor."
Center wound up playing a gem in Loomis to run its record to 26-2. The Cougars were sparked by a large rooting section that more than held its own with Del Oro's boisterous group.
"It was almost like being at home," Connor Haysbert said.
Although on the losing end, Del Oro coach Geoff Broyles said it was an entertaining matchup.
"Both teams made big plays at big times," Broyles said. "All we wanted was an opportunity to be there at the end. And we were, we just didn't get the shots down.
"It was a really good playoff game by two good teams."
Times are still to be announced, but we should see an interesting Sac-Joaquin Section Division I quarterfinal boys basketball matchup on Tuesday at Pacific when sixth-seeded Sheldon plays third-seeded Burbank.
Vic West Jr. had 16 points in leading Burbank past 14th-seeded Golden Valley of Merced 46-29 while Darius Nelson had 29, Ramon Eaton 23 and Eric Williams 20 in Sheldon's 88-67 win over 11th-seeded West of Tracy earlier tonight.
Anthony King had a monster game in scoring 34 points to lead top-seeded Franklin past Edison 80-60 Chuk Iroegbu added 22 points for the Wildcats.
Ninth-seeded Pleasant Grove rallied to beat No. 8 Lincoln of Stockton 59-57 as Jose Rodriguez had 17 points.
DIVISION I results
Franklin-EG 80, Edison 60
Pleasant Grove 59, Lincoln-S 57
Rodriguez 62, Davis Sr. 31
Turlock 70, Vintage 49
Burbank 46, Golden Valley 29
Sheldon 88, West 67
Grace Davis 67, Oak Ridge 63
Merced 77, Kennedy 60
Tuesday/UOP (times TBA)
#9 Pleasant Grove at #1 Franklin-EG
#5 Rodriguez vs. #4 Turlock
#6 Sheldon vs. #3 Burbank
#7 Grace Davis vs. #2 Merced
In tribute to the best section league strength rating, three Sierra Foothill League teams have advanced to the Division II semifinals Thursday at Arco Arena.
No. 2 seed Woodcreek will play No. 6 seed Rocklin in one semifinal while No. 4 Oakmont will take on top-seeded Fairfield in the other semifinal. Times are still to be announced.
Rocklin advanced with a 67-61 overtime with at third-seeded Yuba City; Oakmont downed fifth-seeded Jesuit 83-70; and Woodcreek walloped No. 10 Inderkum 90-56.
Tony Gill had 28 points and Fred Mobley 21 in Oakmont's win over the Marauders, who lost three of their last five games. Nik Milani had 23 points and Mike Kurtz 16 in Woodcreek's triumph.
DIVISION II results
Fairfield 51, Vallejo 42
Oakmont 83, Jesuit 70
Rocklin 67, Yuba City 61 (OT)
Woodcreek 90, Inderkum 56
#4 Oakmont vs. #1 Fairfield
#6 Rocklin vs. #2 Woodcreek
Top-seeded Sacramento continued its march toward another D-III section championship game appearance by beating eighth-seeded Lincoln 85-64 in a quarterfinal game.
Josiah Turner had 37 points and Travon Abraham 17 for the Dragons; Keenan Hale topped Lincoln with 31.
Sacramento will play fourth-seeded St. Mary's of Stockton on Wednesday at Cosumnes River College.
Elliot Herald had 24 points and Connor Haysbert added 20 in sixth-seeded Center's 79-73 win at third-seeded Del Oro. Spencer Butterfield had 19 points and Aaron Hendricks 18 for the Golden Eagles.
That will earn Center, The Bee's top-ranked team, a Wednesday meeting at CRC with second-seeded Vista del Lago, which beat seventh-seeded Manteca 68-62. Hayden Lescault topped the winning Eagles with 20 points.
DIVISION III results
Sacramento 85, Lincoln-L 64
St. Mary's 61, Rio Americano 56
Center 79, Del Oro 73
Vista del Lago 68, Manteca 62
Wednesday/Cosumnes River College
#4 St. Mary's vs. #1 Sacramento
#6 Center vs. #2 Vista del Lago
No. 13 seeded Capital Christian earned a chance to play top-seeded Colfax in the D-IV semifinals on Wednesday at Tokay High School by beating fifth-seeded Central Catholic 76-51. Colfax defeated No. 8 Cosumnes Oaks 61-48.
DIVSION IV results
Colfax 61, Cosumnes Oaks 48
Capital Christian 76, Central Catholic 51
Modesto Christian 91, Christian Brothers 79
Calaveras 60, Hilmar 45
#13 Capital Christian vs. #1 Colfax
#3 Modesto Christian vs. #2 Calaveras
The top four seeds all advanced to Tuesday semifinals at Galt High School, but three escaped the quarterfinals with narrow wins. Top-seeded Victory Christian edged eighth-seeded Global Youth Charter of Antelope 57-55 behind Brad Hoffelt's 22 points.
Orion Kidd's 20 points helped third-seeded Bradshaw Christian top sixth-seeded Brookside Christian 62-59. Fourth-seeded Valley Christian edged Sacramento Waldorf 68-65, despite a game-high 28 points from the Waves' Christopher Schwartz-Edminsten.
DIVISION V results
Victory Christian 57, Global Youth 55
Valley Christian 68, Sacramento Waldorf 65
Bradshaw Christian 62, Brookside Christian 59
Ripon Christian 59, Forest Lake Christian 32
#4 Valley Christian vs. #1 Victory Christian
#3 Bradshaw Christian vs. #2 Ripon Christian
Expect the Yuba City High School gym to be packed tonight.
The Honkers (24-3) boys basketball team, fresh off only their third playoff win in three decades, will play host at 7 p.m. to two-time defending Sac-Joaquin Section Division II champion Rocklin (20-8) in the second round of the D-II playoffs.
The third-seeded Honkers held off 14th-seeded Cordova 76-62 in Wednesday's playoff opener while sixth-seeded Rocklin beat 11th-seeded Grant 67-60 in Rocklin.
Talented 6-foot-7 senior Zach Nelson had his usually superlative game in scoring 28 points for Yuba City. But the difference was sophomore guard Matt Hayes, who scored a career-high 21 points against a pesky Lancers bunch that never allowed the Honkers to get comfortable.
The Yuba City win erased some of the frustration of 2009 when lower-seeded Woodcreek came north and beat the Honkers 76-71 in the opening round.
Hayes, who played on the JV team as a ninth-grader, hit two critical three-point shots in the fourth quarter to keep Cordova at bay.
But the Honkers turned the ball over a lot against the smaller, quicker Lancers, similar pressure they can expect to face against Rocklin.
Last season, Rocklin was a monster team with 6-foot-10 Brendan Lane (now at UCLA), 6-8 Mads Frandsen and 6-5 Pat Stover (now playing baseball at Santa Clara) helping the Thunder reach the D-II state championship game.
Now, Rocklin is a guard-oriented squad behind seniors Cody Kale, Tony Williams, Justin Soria and Jackson Cummings, all of whom played significant minutes last season.
Against Grant, Kale had 21 points and Williams 15.
Elk Grove is No. 4 and Rocklin No. 18 in Cal-Hi Sports' state top 20 preseason baseball rankings.
The Thundering Herd is led by senior Jake Rodriguez, Cal-Hi's State Junior Player of the Year and a member of the United States Under-16 national team, while the defending D-II Sac-Joaquin Section Thunder is anchored by pitcher Matt Fielding, a 10-game winner last season.
Edison of Huntington Beach, the California Interscholastic Federation Southern Section Division I runners-up, are ranked No. 1.
Poway is No. 2, Mater Dei of Santa Ana No. 3 and Rancho Buena Vista of Vista No. 5.
Northern California teams ranked in addition to Elk Grove and Rocklin are No. 6 Valley Christian of San Jose; No. 13 Clayton Valley of Concord; and No. 20 St. Mary's of Stockton.
Two-time defending D-I champion Jesuit and three-time defending D-III champion Yuba City are listed as bubble teams.
It's been a long battle, but the veteran Bella Vista wrestling coach has the Broncos again among the area's elite programs.
In the 1980s, Bella Vista was a state power.
The Broncos placed second in the California Interscholastic Federation state championships three times and third twice. Bella Vista won five section titles from 1979 to 1984 and had five individual state champions and many more state medalists.
One of the Broncos' wrestlers from the era, David Lee, no relation to Michael, is considered the finest to come out of the Sacramento area. He was the CIF's first three-time state champion, had a four-year record of 145-7 and was a three-time collegiate All-American and NCAA national champion in 1989.
David's father, Charlie Lee, the Bella Vista coach, was considered among the best prep wrestling mentors in the nation. Charlie Lee, his wife Ralphene (a renowned tournament organizer), and David are all in the California Wrestling Hall of Fame.
But when Charlie Lee retired in 1984, the program took a gradual slide.
When Mike Lee took over the program in 1994, he had only 14 wrestlers and many of them were raw. It was also around the time the San Juan Unified School District dropped middle school sports because of budget issues.
"The program hit rock bottom, and the tradition was gone," Lee said.
Give Mike Lee credit for staying the course.
This year, Bella Vista won its first Division III section team duals title and also won the D-III section championship, the school's first title in 26 years.
Bella Vista has qualified a school record 10 wrestles for the section Masters Meet this Friday and Saturday in Stockton. Among them is 135-pounder Jake Briggs, the No. 1 ranked wrestler in the state.
Last year the Broncos qualified four wrestlers for state. Lee hopes to send as many as six this season.
The Broncos also now have a club program, the California Xtreme, feeding potential wrestlers into the Fair Oaks schools.
It's modeled after the old Sacramento Superstars club that fed Bella Vista in the 1970s and early 1980s before being discontinued.
Although long retired, Mike Lee says that Charlie and Ralphene Lee are loyal Bella Vista wrestling supporters.
And Mike Lee points out that freshman Shayne Tucker, who has placed at numerous national level competitions in middle school, may have David Lee-type ability.
"Shayne (at 119 pounds) has beaten a returning state finalist already this year, and he won a section championship this past weekend," Mike Lee said.
Why in the world did his pitcher need to run back to the dugout to get her glove? Why didn't a teammate pick her up?, he wondered aloud.
Merely a violation of team protocol to be sure, but to Elk Grove's detail-oriented softball coach, such violations are not tolerated. As it turns out, Alexander had little to worry about -- in terms of operations and on-field performance.
Junior pitcher Shelby Wisdom was merely switching gloves -- she broke her primary glove in warmups and had to wait for her father to re-string it -- between the fourth and fifth innings of a 2-0 Thundering Herd win over Casa Roble on Thursday afternoon in Elk Grove.
"We could play better, I'll never say any different," Alexander said. But overall I thought this was a good first game."
The game was the first of the season for both teams.
Wisdom was shaky in the early innings, hitting two batters and issuing a walk in the first three innings, but settled down for a 14-strikeout, three-hit shutout.
"Shelby was her own worst enemy early," Alexander said. "I just told her, 'Stop hitting batters and walking people and just let us play defense behind you.'"
Rams senior pitcher Whitney Waltrip, battling through upper respiratory illness, pitched an efficient game -- never totaling more than 19 pitches in an inning -- with seven strikeouts but could not seem to figure out Elk Grove sophomore first baseman Carlee Gray, which proved costly.
Gray had a breakout game, going three for three with a triple, an RBI and a run, sending all three of her hits to straightaway centerfield.
"I saw her outside pitch pretty well," said Gray of Waltrip. "I just had to use my snap and make good contact."
Gray's big hit was a triple lined over the head of centerfielder Leesha Shoemaker in the bottom of the fourth which drove in third baseman Alex Basquez. The next batter, senior second baseman Brieanna Stone drove Gray in with a dribbler between Rams first baseman Amy Ainsworth and second baseman Brianna Golden.
The Herd held on despite a late scare as singled to second base to open the seventh and advanced to third with no outs on a Wisdom wild pitch and a passed ball by catcher Alycia Fields. Wisdom responded with back-to-back strikeouts before getting Golden to ground out to second base to end the game.
"Elk Grove is a Top 10 team so that's not too shabby of a loss for us," Rams coach Kristen Allen said. "Our hitting isn't where it needs to be, but we'll make adjustments just like everybody else."
Rio Americano High School team boys basketball manager Adam Felton, who we profiled in The Bee on Tuesday, says he would like to continue with basketball in one form or another in the future, perhaps through broadcasting or scouting.
"I love watching up and coming talent," said Felton, who was born with cerebral palsy. "It's fun watching the players learn something new every day."
Felton has taken a radio and television class at the school.
"His dream job would be to work for the Kings," said Sue Felton, his mother.
Adam also served as the public address announcer when Rio Americano played a fund-raising baseball game against Bella Vista at Raley Field last spring.
"That was a big night," Felton said. "I got to announce the lineups, do the introductions and there were 300-plus students there. It was the first time I had taken Paratransit on my own. It was a confidence boost: 'Heck, I can really do this. I can contribute and be part of the school.'"
Center boys basketball fans thought the Cougars got a raw deal with a No. 6 seed for the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoffs.
After all, the Cougars, ranked No. 1 by The Bee, went 24-2 during the regular season and were undefeated in winning the Capital Valley Conference.
But Center had its hands full Wednesday night with visiting Pioneer and 6-foot-6 post James Tillman in the opening round of postseason play, escaping with a 60-58 win over the 11th-seeded Patriots (20-8).
Elliot Herald scored 18 points, including the driving basket and free throw to give the Cougars the lead for good, 59-57, with 40 seconds left. Andres Martinez added 17 points while Pioneer's Tillman led all scorers with 28 points.
Center's 6-8 center Connor Haysbert, who sprained an ankle in practice Tuesday, sat out the first half but talked his way into playing in the second half. Normally the team's leading scorer at 14.7 points a game, Haysbert finished with four points and two rebounds.
The athletic 6-3 Herald helped fill the rebounding void by grabbing 13 boards.
Now it only gets more challenging for the Cougars. They must play at third-seeded Del Oro in Friday's quarterfinals.
The Golden Eagles pummeled 14th seeded Sierra of Manteca 69-39 behind Spencer Butterfield's 23 points.
Other D-III highlights:
Josiah Turner had 35 points and Robert Garrett added 12 as top-seeded Sacramento whipped Hogan 89-65.
Hayden Lescault scored 20 points as second seeded Vista del Lago beat 15th seeded Sonora 50-35.
Pioneer Valley League MVP Keenan Hale poured in 20 points in eighth-seeded Lincoln's 59-49 win over Foothill.
Fifth-seeded Rio Americano outscored 12th seeded Livingston 41-18 in the first half en route to an 80-52 win. Zach Nathanson and Abe Leibovitz combined for 42 points.
DIVISION III results
Sacramento 89, Hogan 65
Lincoln-L 59, Foothill 49
Rio Americano 80, Livingston 52
St. Mary's 70, El Dorado 55
Del Oro 69, Sierra 39
Center 60, Pioneer 58
Manteca 81, Placer 63
Vista del Lago 50, Sonora 35
#8 Lincoln-L at #1 Sacramento
#5 Rio Americano at #4 St. Mary's
#6 Center at #3 Del Oro
#7 Manteca at #2 Vista del Lago
Seven of the top eight seeded teams in won their opening round games.
Nik Milani had 21 points and Michael Kurtz had 16 points, 10 rebounds, four blocks and four assists as second-seeded Woodcreek belted Folsom 67-44.
Zach Nelson poured in 28 points as third-seeded Yuba City downed 14th seeded Cordova 76-62.
Tony Gill had 21 points and JT Adenrele 19 in fourth-seeded Oakmont's 62-51 win over 12th seeded Bear Creek.
MacKenzie McCullough and Akachi Okugo led a balanced Jesuit attack with 13 points each as the fifth-seeded Marauders beat Pitman 70-49.
Cody Kale scored 21 points and Tony Williams added 15 as sixth-seeded Rocklin beat Grant 67-60. James Sample had 24 points for the Pacers.
Kareem Ransom had 28 points and Devonte Lloyd 18 in 10th-seeded Inderkum's 98-86 win over No. 7 Laguna Creek. Christian Carvin and Ty Brown had 19 points apiece for Laguna Creek.
DIVISION II results
Fairfield 63, Valley 41
Vallejo 76, Del Campo 55
Jesuit 70, Pitman 49
Oakmont 62, Bear Creek 51
Yuba City 76, Cordova 62
Rocklin 67, Grant 60
Inderkum 98, Laguna Creek 86
Woodcreek 67, Folsom 44
#8 Vallejo at #1 Fairfield
#5 Jesuit at #4 Oakmont
#6 Rocklin at #3 Yuba City
#10 Inderkum at #2 Woodcreek
Eighth-seeded Cosumnes Oaks, the Elk Grove school playing its first varsity season and without seniors, won its opener, beating visiting Linden 52-49. Elijah Lewis topped Cosumnes Oaks with 16 points. Aaron Judge had 30 for Linden.
Justin Witt had 18 points as top-seeded Colfax downed No. 16 Ripon 81-53.
Brian Simmons had 16 points, Mike Brill and Reggie Mixon 15 apiece and Trevor Fairrington 14 as 13th seeded Capital Christian beat fourth-seeded Amador 77-65.
Tenth-seeded Highlands' upset bid fell short at seventh seeded Hilmar as the Scots lost 63-58 in overtime.
DIVISION IV results
Colfax 81, Ripon 53
Cosumnes Oaks 52, Linden 49
Central Catholic 59, Escalon 49
Capital Christian 77, Amador 65
Modesto Christian 100, Millennium 50
Christian Brothers 49, Mariposa 47
Hilmar 63, Highlands 58 (OT)
Calaveras 52, Vacaville Christian 37
#8 Cosumnes Oaks at #1 Colfax
#13 Capital Christian at #5 Central Catholic
#11 Christian Brothers at #3 Modesto Christian
#7 Hilmar at #2 Calaveras
Nathan Coppernoll and Johnny Coburn had 15 points apiece and Clayton Coppernoll added 13 in top-seeded Victory Christian's 73-38 win over Elliot Christian.
Orion Kidd and Scott Eklund each had 16 points as defending D-V section champion Bradshaw Christian beat Sierra Ridge Academy 78-62.
Michael Kelleher had 35 points in fifth-seeded Sacramento Waldorf's 81-39 win over Tioga.
Josh Ritchart had 19 points in leading 10th seeded Forest Lake Christian to a 43-40 win over No. 7 Sacramento Adventist.
DIVISION V results
Victory Christian 73, Elliot Christian 38
Global Youth 66, New Life Christian 20
Sacramento Waldorf 81, Tioga 39
Valley Christian 75, Big Valley Christian 46
Bradshaw Christian 78, Sierra Ridge 62
Brookside Christian 79, Sacramento Country Day 40
Forest Lake Christian 43, Sacramento Adventist 40
Ripon Christian 66, Stone Ridge Christian 31
#8 Global Youth at #1 Victory Christian
#5 Sacramento Waldorf at #4 Valley Christian
#6 Brookside Christian at #3 Bradshaw Christian
#10 Forest Lake Christian at #2 Ripon Christian
In a state as population-rich and meteorologically blessed as California there are a few sports, like volleyball, baseball and softball, that if you are ranked at the top of the state it's a good bet you're in the running for No. 1 in the country.
Pleasant Grove, the defending Sac-Joaquin Section Division I champion, is just such a beneficiary as three days after the Eagles were named the state's top team by Cal-Hi Sports they today were unveiled as the top team in the ESPN RISE Fab 50. It is the second straight year an Elk Grove Unified School District program has garnered the honor as Sheldon opened last season No. 1 in the country.
Joining Pleasant Grove in the Fab 50 is defending section D-II champion Oak Ridge, which opens at No. 19 in the nation.
For awhile, it looked as if it was going to be another long season for the Highlands boys basketball team and coach Greg Drumheller, in his second go-around as Scots coach.
The Scots lost nine of their first 10 games, albeit against upgraded competition. That didn't bode well for a school that was 21-108 over the previous five seasons, including the last two under Drumheller.
But Highlands won 10 of its last 13 and also captured the Golden Empire League championship with a 10-2 record, the school's first league boys basketball title in 25 years.
Now for the first time since Drumheller's previous go-round as coach from 1997 to 2005, the Scots are in the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs.
Highlands (13-14), the 10th seed, will open the Division IV playoffs tonight at No. 7 Hilmar (19-7).
Drumheller thinks his Scots could be spoilers.
"I don't think teams in the southern part of the section have seen our type of speed," Drumheller said. "We're quick, we pressure and we play together. Our biggest drawback is that we have only one player taller than 6 feet."
The leaders are senior guard Colton Nelson, the GEL MVP who averaged 16.7 points per game; All-GEL junior guard Eddie Litvinov (11.6); and sophomore center Jeremy Bubier (12.4), the team's big man at 6-4.
"I've had had better teams as far as talent," Drumheller said. "But Colton sets the tone. He's the hardest working kid, he never misses practice and he never complains. The kids respect him and they follow him into battle."
Drumheller has been through the thick and thin of Highlands athletics through the years.
He grew up in the neighborhood when Highlands was a sports power, including the 1982-'83 bunch that went 33-1 and won the D-I section title under the late, legendary coach Carl Montross. It is considered one of the area's 10 greatest boys basketball teams.
Drumheller played for Montross in the late 1980s and early 1990s and older brother Paul was a member of the Scots' last league championship team in 1984-'85 that featured Sean Smartt, future NFL player Scott Galbraith and Craig Allen.
Greg Drumheller revived the boys program in his first go-around as coach from 1997 to 2005. His 2002-'03 team reached the D-III section championship finale at Arco Arena, but lost to league rival Foothill. Coach Drew Hibbs' Mustangs went on to win the state championship that season.
While a section title appearance appears a long-shot this season for a school that now numbers just 850 students and is officially called Highlands Academy of Arts and Design, Drumheller thinks the Scots are capable of winning a couple of playoff games.
If they can do that, it likely would set up a semifinal matchup with Modesto Christian next Wednesday at Tokay High School.
The Crusaders have won a section-record 12 titles at several different levels and are the strong favorites to repeat as D-IV champions.
But if the Scots can get that far, it would guarantee at least one more game.
This season, the top four section finishers advance to an expanded California Interscholastic Federation Northern California playoff field.
After a long and successful career as the girls basketball coach at Burbank High School, Ferrell took over the boys program three years ago that was a wreck.
The Titans finished a dismal 4-22 and 1-9 in the Metro Conference in 2006-07.
In three seasons, Burbank has gone 62-23 overall, 24-6 in the Metro and advanced to the postseason three consecutive seasons.
Every season the Titans seem to take another step in the right direction.
Now, the Titans are in a wide-open Sac-Joaquin Section Division I field, so the potential is there, despite being a young team, to play for a section championship, something the Titans haven't done in more than a decade.
Burbank, which has never won a section title in boys hoops, has been D-II runners-up three times: Twice under John Copeland in 1988 and 1991 (both losses to Jesuit) and again in 1999 under Frank Maestas.
In Ferrell's first season, 19-8 Burbank lost to Rodriguez 62-59 in the first round of the D-I playoffs. Last season the 21-8 Titans fell 76-72 to Merced in the second round.
This season the Titans take a 20-7 record and No. 3 seed in their opener Wednesday night against visiting Golden Valley.
If the Titans get past the Merced visitors and No. 6 Sheldon beats visiting West of Tracy, that would set up an enticing second-round match-up between two teams with similar styles at Pacific on Tuesday.
"Division I is tough," Ferrell said after the Titans lost 85-53 last Thursday to league rival Sacramento. "The middle part of it is the scary part. You've got (No. 5) Rodriguez, Sheldon and (No. 9) Pleasant Grove.
"(No. 1) Franklin is pretty good. (No. 2) Merced is always good, and so is (No. 4) Turlock.
"I think we are in a good place as far as our first-round seed."
Burbank is in a good place considering that its standout player the last two years, Terrance Mitchell, decided not to play as a senior.
Mitchell, who averaged 17.5 points as a junior, has a football scholarship to Oregon and decided not to play basketball his senior year so he could graduate early and attend the Ducks' spring workouts.
"A lot of people thought we weren't going to be very good without Terrance," Ferrell said. "But our guys have responded."
While seniors Ken Holloway, Murray Kameron and Gabriel Barnes have been mainstays, it's the younger guys that have turned in all-star efforts.
Vic West Jr. (13.8 ppg, 10 rebounds) is an athletic and active 6-foot-4 big man while 5-8 Jeff Davis (11.8 ppg, 4.3 steals) has played big at the point. Junior forward Paul Smith-Profit and sophomore guard Jay Stone also are key contributors.
Ferrell was disappointed that his team played so poorly against rival Sac High Thursday in front of Burbank's home crowd, a game that could have meant a Metro co-championship had the Titans won.
Sacramento, the defending D-III section champions, has won the last four Metro titles and is a combined 39-1 in league play.
All of Burbank's six league losses in Ferrell's tenure have come to the Dragons.
Yet Ferrell doesn't complain about the advantages that Sac High has over the other Metro Conference schools in being a charter school that draws students from throughout the area instead of within confined district boundaries.
As for his Titans, Ferrell thinks his bunch will rebound in the playoffs.
I think the whole thing is about brotherhood," he said. "We just need to play together."
Cal-Hi Sports has released its initial 2010 state softball rankings and, just like last year, an Elk Grove Unified School District program opens at the top.
Except that this year it's coach JT Tiumalu's Pleasant Grove Eagles on top after downing two-time defending champion Sheldon, which opened last year No. 1 in the country, for last year's Sac-Joaquin Section Division I championship.
The Eagles return their UCLA-bound battery of pitcher junior pitcher Ally Carda (.430 batting average, nine home runs, 0.73 ERA last season), The Bee's 2009 Player of the Year, and senior catcher Alyssa Tiumalu (.438 average, 29 RBIs in 2009) in addition to senior outfielder Kirsten Willmon (.341 average in 2009) and senior third baseman Jazmine Lee (.500 average in an injury-shortened 2009 season).
Pleasant Grove will, however, be without 2009 Bee first-team outfielder Emily Caruthers who, with a softball scholarship waiting for her at Columbia, has decided to forego her senior season and focus on academics.
Joining Pleasant Grove in Cal-Hi's Top 20 is defending section D-II champion Oak Ridge which ranked No. 6 also returns a masterful junior pitcher in Kasey Stanchek. Stanchek, who had a 0.43 ERA and struck out 276 batters last year, saved her best for last in the section playoffs in 2009 when she was not scored upon, allowing just four hits while striking out 38 batters over four games.
Returning along with Stanchek is sophomore outfielder Jenessa Jeppesen, who hit .449 with four home runs last year, and senior infielder Molly Ryan (.358 average, 17 RBIs in 2009).
Sheldon coach Mary Jo Trusdale, whose Huskies are ranked No. 14 by Cal-Hi, has had to deal with losing stars before. With her starting for the past four years in Jolene Henderson and Lindsey Ziegenhirt now making an immediate impact at Cal (Henderson is 3-1 with a team-leading 1.42 ERA while Ziegenhirt has made all 10 starts at catcher and has a team-high 15 RBIs) Truesdale once again turns to a seemingly endless stream of youngsters to fill in the gaps.
Third baseman Danielle Henderson, younger sister of Jolene, is the Huskies' returning leader at the plate as she hit .396 with two home runs this season.
Center may be The Bee's top-ranked boys basketball team, but it doesn't hold much weight in the Sac-Joaquin Section power ratings format.
Because the Cougars play in a league with a low strength rating, they have gotten only a No. 6 seed for the Division III playoffs that start on Wednesday.
Center went 14-0 in the Capital Valley Conference and is 24-2 overall, but the Cougars are seeded behind four of five teams with lesser won-loss records.
Defending D-III champion Sacramento (20-6) is the No. 1 seed, followed by No. 2 Vista del Lago (25-2), No. 3 Del Oro (18-8), No. 4 St. Mary's of Stockton (20-7) and No. 5 Rio Americano (20-7).
What it means for Center, if it can get past No. 11 Pioneer in Wednesday's opening round, is a second-round game on Friday in Loomis against Del Oro. That's if the Golden Eagles beat No. 14 Sierra of Manteca in Loomis on Wednesday.
Division II features some intriguing first-round match-ups, also on Wednesday.
Dangerous Cordova (14-11), which beat Oak Ridge and Christian Brothers in Sierra Valley Conference play last week, earned a No. 14 seed (after being No. 20 in the power ratings the week before) and will play at No. 3 Yuba City (23-3).
Defending section and CIF Northern California D-II champion Rocklin (19-8), a No. 6 seed that finished in third-place tie in the Sierra Foothill League with Del Oro, plays host to No. 11 Grant (16-9).
Two-time defending D-I champion Folsom (12-15), now in D-II because of declining enrollment and still a threat despite a losing record, is a 15th seed that will play at No. 2 Woodcreek (22-5).
Fairfield (21-5), which has lost in the last three D-II section championship games, is the No. 1 seed and will play host to No. 16 Valley (16-11).
The D-I playoffs won't start until Friday. Franklin of Elk Grove (23-4) is the No. 1 seed, followed by No. 2 Merced (23-4), No. 3 Burbank (20-7) and No. 4 Turlock (22-5).
But the team to beat may be No. 6 Sheldon (22-5), which will play host to No. 11 West (18-9) of Tracy on Friday.
Here are the complete first-round pairings. For brackets go to www.cifsjs.org.
DIVISION I (7 p.m. Friday) -- No. 16 Edison at No. 1 Franklin-Elk Grove; No. 15 Kennedy at No. 2 Merced; No. 14 Golden Valley at No. 3 Burbank; No. 13 Vintage at No. 4 Turlock; No. 12 Davis at No. 5 Rodriguez; No. 11 West at No. 6 Sheldon; No. 10 Oak Ridge at No. 7 Grave Davis; No. 9 Pleasant Grove at No. 8 Lincoln-Stockton.
DIVISION II (7 p.m. Wednesday) -- No. 16 Valley at No. 1 Fairfield; No. 15 Folsom at No. 2 Woodcreek; No. 14 Cordova at No. 3 Yuba City; No. 13 Bear Creek at No. 4 Oakmont; No. 12 Pitman at No. 5 Jesuit; No. 11 Grant at No. 6 Rocklin; No. 10 Inderkum at No. 7 Laguna Creek; No. 9 Del Campo at No. 8 Vallejo.
DIVISION III (7 p.m. Wednesday) -- No. 16 Hogan at No. 1 Sacramento; No. 15 Sonora at No. 2 Vista del Lago; No. 14 Sierra at No. 3 Del Oro; No. 13 El Dorado at No. 4 St. Mary's-Stockton; No. 12 Livingston at No. 5 Rio Americano; No. 11 Pioneer at No. 6 Center; No. 10 Placer at No. 7 Manteca; No. 9 Foothill at No. 8 Lincoln.
DIVISION IV (7 p.m. Wednesday) -- No. 16 Ripon at No. 1 Colfax; No. 15 Vacaville Christian at No. 2 Calaveras; No. 14 Millennium at No. 3 Modesto Christian; No. 13 Capital Christian vs. No. 4 Amador; No. 12 Escalon at No. 5 Central Catholic; No. 11 Christian Brothers at No. 8 Mariposa; No. 10 Highlands at No. 7 Hilmar; No. 9 Linden at No. 8 Cosumnes Oaks.
DIVISION V (7 p.m. Wednesday) - No. 6 Elliot Christian at No. 1 Victory Christian; No. 15 Stone Ridge Christian at No. 2 Ripon Christian; No. 14 Sierra Ridge/ROP at No. 3 Bradshaw Christian; No. 13 Big Valley Christian at No. 4 Valley Christian; No. 12 Tioga at No. 5 Sacramento Waldorf; No. 11 Sacramento Country Day at No. 6 Brookside Christian; No. 10 Forest Lake Christian at No. 7 Sacramento Adventist; No. 9 New Life Christian at No. 8 Global Youth.
The high school girls basketball playoff brackets have been released, and sure enough, there are some stacked brackets. The Bee will have detailed previews this week (girls on Tuesday, boys on Wednesday) with game stories, notebooks, features throughout the run to and through Arco Arena.
The Division I bracket includes two-time defending champion Kennedy, with losses early only to state powers St. Mary's of Stockton, ranked No. 1 in the country, and Sacramento, top-ranked by The Bee much of the season. The Cougars are the No. 3 seed, behind No. 1 Oak Ridge, the defending D-II champion now up a division, and No. 2 Napa.
D-I Teams sure to make some noise are No. 10 McClatchy - a low seed due to the Metro League's low strength - and No. 4 Franklin, the only other team to beat Kennedy this season.
St. Francis is the top seed in D-II, Bella Vista No. 2 and Vallejo third. The bracket's most prolific scorer is Joslyn Moore of No. 8 Valley. Division III includes three heavyweights, headed by No. 1 St. Mary's, No. 2 Del Oro and No. 3 Sacramento, led by the incomparable Brittany Shine.
(All games 7 p.m.) Division I
Opening round Thursday
No. 16 Nevada Union at No. 1 Oak Ridge
No. 9 Sheldon at No. 8 Turlock
No. 12 Enochs at No. 5 Pleasant Grove
No. 13 Rodriguez at No. 4 Franklin
No. 14 Edison at No. 3 Kennedy
No. 11 Modesto at No. 6 McNair
No. 10 McClatchy at No. 7 Lincoln-Stockton
No. 15 Tokay at No. 2 Napa
Opening round Tuesday
No. 16 Rosemont at No. 1 St. Francis
No. 9 Ponderosa at No. 8 Valley
No. 12 Pitman at No. 5 Woodcreek
No. 13 Rio Linda at No. 4 Fairfield
No. 14 Atwater at No. 3 Vallejo
No. 11 River City at No. 6 Granite Bay
No. 10 Vacaville at No. 7 Inderkum
No. 15 at No. 2 Bella Vista
Oakdale vs. Livingston, outbracket, Monday
Opening round Tuesday
No. 16 Oakdale-Livingston at No. 1 St. Mary's
No. 9 Vista del Lago at No. 8 Natomas
No. 12 Patterson at No. 5 El Camino
No. 13 Manteca at No. 4 Vanden
No. 14 Dixon at No. 3 Sacramento
No. 11 Sonora at No. 6 El Dorado
No. 10 Rio Americano at No. 7 East Union
No. 15 Galt at No. 2 Del Oro
Opening round Tuesday
No. 16 Orestimba at No. 1 Modesto Christian
No. 9 Vacaville Christian at No. 8 Linden
No. 12 Ripon at No. 5 Bear River
No. 13 Hughson at No. 4 Christian Brothers
No. 14 San Juan at No. 3 Colfax
No. 11 LeGrand at No. 6 West Campus
No. 10 Calaveras at No. 7 Capital Christian
No. 15 Waterford at No. 2 Argonaut
Opening round Tuesday
No. 16 Lodi Academy at No. 1 Bradshaw Christian
No. 9 Valley Christian at No. 8 Forest Lake
No. 12 Faith Christian at Sacramento Waldorf
No. 13 Foresthill at No. 4 Big Valley
No. 14 Victory Christian at No. 3 Wilton
No. 11 Ripon at No. 6 Trinity Prep
No. 10 Elliot Christian at No. 7 Sac Adventist
No. 15 Lutheran at No. 2 Turlock Christian
Friday night produced some interesting highlights in boys basketball.
After sitting out six games with ankle and Achilles' injuries, Darius Nelson returned to the Sheldon lineup and scored 27 points in a 66-58 win over defending Delta River League champion Folsom (12-15, 5-5). The No. 6 Huskies (22-5, 7-3) finished the regular season with six consecutive wins.
Behind Bobby Barnes' game-high 19 points, unranked Pleasant Grove (15-11, 6-4) upset No. 2 Jesuit 73-72 in double overtime. Despite the loss, the Marauders (21-6, 8-2) are still the Delta River League champions.
Despite knowing that talented French national transfer Remi Barry won't be playing for them after a Placer County court denied him a stay of a California Interscholastic Federation eligibility ruling, the No. 12 Del Oro Golden Eagles (18-8, 8-4) capped a late-season, four-game win streak with a 71-66 win at No. 7 Rocklin (19-8, 8-4), the defending Sierra Foothill League champions. Spencer Butterfield had 32 points for Del Oro.
Cordova (14-11, 6-6), which started the week at No. 20 in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II power ratings, may make the 16-team playoff field after beating Christian Brothers 78-56. That win, coupled with a 52-47 upset of No. 16 Oak Ridge on Wednesday, may be enough for the Lancers to move ahead of several teams in front of them that lost games this week. The section will release the playoff pairings on Sunday afternoon.
They packed the fans like sardines into the 1,200-seat gym at Oak Ridge High School Friday night.
A lucky few stood outside in the cold and peered through the glass doors. Dozens more were turned away.
It was No. 4 Vista del Lago and No. 16 Oak Ridge in a battle for the Sierra Valley Conference boys basketball title on the final night of the regular season.
And the game lived up to the billing.
Oak Ridge's Matt Mendoza missed an eight-foot runner at the buzzer as Vista del Lago (25-2, 11-1) held on for a 43-41 victory and, in only its second varsity season and first with seniors, won a championship banner.
"It was a battle," said Vista coach Jeff Bridges. "A packed house. A league championship on the line. The fans into it. That's what it's all about."
Although the Eagles had lost at home to Oak Ridge 49-48 on Jan. 26, they had at least a co-championship assured because Oak Ridge had been upset 52-47 by Cordova on Wednesday, snapping the Trojans' nine-game win streak.
But since many of the Oak Ridge and Vista del Lago players have grown up playing against each other in the two adjoining communities of Folsom and El Dorado Hills, this game would have been intense even if both were winless.
"We're just happy to win the championship outright," Bridges said.
It turned into a defensive slugfest, Oak Ridge's active and effective zone against Vista's in-your-grill man-to-man style. Shots were at a premium. Vista del Lago made 13 on just 25 attempts from the field. Oak Ridge was 12 for 35.
"I thought there was a stretch there that if we made some buckets, we could have pulled away," Bridges said. "But we're not a real good offensive team. We try real hard. We try to run good stuff, but a lot of it is due to these kids at Oak Ridge. They play really hard. There was a lot of pride on the line. The kids know each other well.
"Overall it was two teams that knew each other very well and, ultimately, it was meant to come down to the wire."
Vista seemed in control in taking a 23-14 halftime lead, but Oak Ridge ran off seven points to open the third quarter, then got to within a point three times, including Will Findlay's three-pointer from beyond the top of the key with 31 seconds to play that cut Vista's lead to 40-39.
Mike Young made the first of two free throws with 21 seconds. When Young missed the second attempt, Demarcus Wishom knocked the ball off an Oak Ridge player while battling for the rebound.
Marques White was fouled with 18.8 seconds and made both free throws. Bryce Scott's two free throws cut the lead back to two with 8.2 seconds, then Oak Ridge got the ball back for one last attempt when Jaquai Wiley stepped out of bounds trying to corral a full-court inbounds pass attempt with 6.9 seconds to go.
When Mendoza's shot missed, the huge Vista rooting section stormed the floor. There was a brief face-off between the two rivals' rooting sections on the court, but order was maintained.
"We've been practicing for this game the last two weeks," said a jubilant Hayden Lescault, Vista's senior guard and captain who led all scorers with 18 points. "We let the one slip by earlier against Oak Ridge, so we wanted revenge for that."
White added 10 points for the Eagles while Findlay and Connor Benander topped Oak Ridge with nine points each. Mendoza and Scott added eight points apiece for Oak Ridge.
Now both teams can focus on the postseason.
Oak Ridge (16-11, 9-3), despite losing its last two games, still could be a factor with its defensive ferocity in what is viewed as a wide open Division I field.
Vista del Lago will enter a meat-grinder of a Division III playoff field that includes defending D-III champion Sacramento, top-ranked Center, hard-charging Del Oro and St. Mary's of Stockton.
Pairings will be released Sunday by the section office.
"This helps us going into the postseason," Lescault said. "It gives us some momentum to roll on. We're going to try to play off this game."
It's a postseason challenge for which Bridges thinks his players will be ready, especially having competed so well last year in going 21-9 with all juniors before falling to Modesto Christian 64-60 in the D-IV semifinals.
Vista del Lago has moved up a division because of an increase in enrollment. The Eagles likely will be the No. 2 seed behind Sacramento High.
"D-III is by far the toughest field," Bridges said. "I think even the first and second round games are going to be tough. We're feeling good having two home games, we'll have our crowd.
"I think we can make a run. It will be nice to play some teams who aren't familiar with us."
And what about Sac High, the basketball behemoth that has played in the last five D-III finals, winning three?
"They're good, and they keep getting better," Bridges said. "But I think the experience of playing Modesto Christian last year to the wire will help us. We know we can compete with them."
Added Lescault: "Sac High is a great team, but so are we."
Oak Ridge at No. 8, Franklin at No. 12 and Kennedy at No. 13 are three of the four Northern California teams in this week's Cal-Hi Sports' state Division I girls basketball rankings.
The other NorCal representative is Berkeley at No. 3. The Yellowjackets are the pre-playoff NorCal favorites to reach the state finals to be held March 26-27 in Bakersfield.
Long Beach Poly is No. 1 and Santiago of Corona No. 2 in D-I.
St. Francis is No. 9 in D-II. Brea Olinda, a team Oak Ridge beat earlier this season, is No. 1. NorCal teams in front of St. Francis in D-II: Mitty of San Jose at No. 4 and Carondelet of Concord at No. 5.
Sacramento is No. 3 in D-III behind top-ranked St. Mary's of Stockton and No. 2 Bishop O'Dowd of Oakland.
In Cal-Hi's NorCal Top 15, St. Mary's is No. 1, O'Dowd No. 2, Berkeley No. 3 and Sac High No. 4. Oak Ridge is No. 7, Franklin No. 11, Kennedy No. 12 and St. Francis No. 13.
For more on the rankings, visit www.calhisports.com.
That Division III is the strongest in Sac-Joaquin Section boys basketball this season is reflected in this week's Cal-Hi Sports state divisional rankings.
Center is No. 6, Sacramento No. 9 and Vista del Lago No. 10 in this week's D-III rankings. Bishop O'Dowd of Oakland is the only other Northern California team ranked at No. 3.
Serra of Gardena is No. 1 and Ocean View of Huntington Beach is No. 2.
There are no area teams ranked in D-I. Mater Dei of Santa Ana is No. 1 and Westchester of Los Angeles No. 2. The top NorCal team is Newark Memorial at No. 4.
In Division II, Jesuit is at No. 7, having fallen from No. 2 after its loss to Sheldon, while Yuba City is at No. 9. St. Francis of Mountain View is No. 1 and defending D-II state champion Eisenhower of Rialto is No. 2.
The only other area boys team to be ranked is Colfax at No. 10 in D-IV. Defending state D-IV champion Salesian of Richmond is No. 1.
Salesian also is the No. 1 team in the overall Northern California Top 15. Center is at No. 10, Sheldon at No. 11, Jesuit at No. 12, Sacramento at No. 13 and Vista del Lago at No. 14.
For more on the rankings, visit www.calhisports.com.
They are still on the postseason bubble, but the unranked Cordova Lancers are a boys basketball team that many coaches fear.
Last night, the Lancers showed why once again in beating No. 16 Oak Ridge 52-47, snapping the Trojans' nine-game winning streak and taking a little pizazz out of Friday's Sierra Valley Conference showdown game between Oak Ridge (16-10, 9-2) and 10-1 No. 4 Vista del Lago (24-2, 10-1) in El Dorado Hills.
Sophomore Bryce Scott led Oak Ridge with 19 points and senior Jeremy Harris had 13 and junior Deshawn Smith 11 for the Lancers.
Cordova (13-11, 5-6) is clinging to playoff life heading into its final regular-season game against visiting Christian Brothers (12-13, 5-6) on Friday. Cordova has played well at home in winning nine of 11 games and has lost two games to Vista del Lago by a combined eight points.
In beating Oak Ridge, the Lancers also got some help this week.
Of the six teams in front of them in this week's Sac-Joaquin Section Division II power ratings, four suffered losses - No. 14 Granite Bay, No. 16 River Valley, No. 17 Bella Vista and No. 19 Vacaville.
Cordova was at No. 20 entering the week. Only the top 16 teams advance to the postseason.
Sacramento High School Coach Michele Massari's Dragons sealed the top spot in the Metro League by defeating the 2nd place McClatchy Lions 52-49 in girls varsity basketball. It was the second time the Dragons defeated the Lions this season. Video by Access Sacramento. Watch Game of the Week Tuesday at 7 pm, Friday at 8 pm and Saturday at noon on Comcast and Surewest Cable Channel 17.
St. Francis and Bear River jumped from No. 3 to No. 1 while Oak Ridge and Del Oro held their respective top spots in the latest Sac-Joaquin Section girls basketball divisional power ratings released today.
St. Francis moved to No. 1 in Division II and Bear River to No. 1 in D-IV. Oak Ridge remained No. 1 in D-I and Del Oro No. 1 in D-III.
These will be the last power ratings the section will release to the public. Section officials will seed the playoff field this weekend and hope to release playoff pairings by 3 p.m. Sunday.
The top 16 teams in each division qualify for postseason play.
D-II - 1. St. Francis; 2. Bella Vista; 3. Vallejo; 4. Woodcreek; 5. Fairfield; 6. Granite Bay; 7. Valley; 8. Inderkum; 9. Vacaville; 10. Ponderosa; 11. River City; 12. Rio Linda; 13. Pitman; 14. Rosemont; 15. Casa Roble; 16. Folsom. On the bubble: No. 17 Del Campo.
D-III - 1. Del Oro; 2. St. Mary's; 3. Vanden; 4. Sacramento; 5. El Dorado; 6. East Union; 7. El Camino; 8. Natomas; 9. Vista del Lago; 10. Galt; 11. Oakdale; 12. Rio Americano; 13. Manteca; 14. Patterson; 15. Sonora; 16. Livingston. On the bubble: No. 17 Dixon.
With its 70-45 win over Sierra Foothill League rival Oakmont on Wednesday, Woodcreek has jumped back among the top four in the latest Sac-Joaquin Section Division II boys basketball power ratings released today.
Woodcreek is No. 4 behind No. 1 Fairfield, No. 2 Jesuit and No. 3 Yuba City.
If the Timberwolves can hold that No. 4 spot with wins this week at home over Nevada Union on Wednesday and Granite Bay on Friday, they will have the potential to play host to the first two rounds of the D-II playoffs.
Oakmont was No. 4 and Woodcreek No. 5 in last week's rakings.
Jockeying is often hot and heavy in Divisions II-V because of the home-court benefit for those finishing among the top four seeds. Home court advantage isn't nearly as critical in D-I because quarterfinal games are played at neutral Pacific.
Today's ratings are the last to be released publicly by the section. Section officials will seed the five divisions this weekend and release playoff pairings online by 3 p.m. Sunday.
The top 16 teams in each division qualify for postseason play.
Here are the current top 16 teams, plus bubble teams, by division:
In an age of up-tempo, dribble drive basketball, Dave Millhollin's Ponderosa boys basketball teams remained methodical and intensely focused on defense.
Millhollin, who stepped down earlier this season after 14 years at the Bruins' helm, had five teams that allowed 39.3 or fewer points in a season. Four times he had California's top defensive team.
"The reason we were able to win as much as we did at Ponderosa was because we had players who were unselfish and made a commitment, bordering on obsession, to their teammates and their team's goals," Millhollin said.
The 2007-'08 team, in setting a school record of 35 points allowed per game, led the nation in defense among those states with a shot clock.
Millhollin says he's looking forward to pursuing his third passion beyond family and basketball.
"I love flyfishing," said Millhollin, who has a protege in Tyus, his 12-year-old son and budding point guard who is named after former UCLA basketball star Tyus Edney.
"In addition to a nice jump shot, he's got a nice little casting stroke," Millhollin said. "I want to have a fishing buddy for life, someone who can help me put on my waders when I'm 70."
Free throws to tie in regulation. Free throws to win in overtime. Capital Christian took a 55-52 victory over San Juan to stay in the boys HS basketball playoff race. Trevor Fairrington sealed the win with less than 1 second on the clock. Access Sacramento's Will James and Scott Marsh make the call for Hometown Sports Game of the Week. Watch Tues. 7pm or Fri. 8pm.
Access Sacramento's Kathleen Randolph provides post game interviews with San Juan senior guard Movzes Mikayelyan, Capital Christian's junior forward Brian Simmons and Capital Christian Coach Phil Oates. Watch Game of the Week on Comcast and Surewest Cable Channel 17 on Tuesday at 7 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., and Saturday at noon.
OK, we haven't hit the basketball playoffs but give NorCalPreps.com kudos for looking ahead to baseball, where this area should excel.
Six area teams are listed in NorCalPreps' Northern California preseason top 20, with Elk Grove leading the way at No. 2.
Jesuit is No. 8, Yuba City No. 10, Oak Ridge No. 12, Granite Bay No. 15 and Franklin No. 16.
The Thundering Herd is coming off a 23-7 season and returns shortstop-pitcher-catcher Jake Rodriguez, considred one of the nation's top seniors. He has signed with Oregon State.
Coach Jeff Carlson also has back Sacramento State signee Will Soto, a third baseman-outfielder, and junior first baseman-pitcher J.D. Davis, who is a Pac-10 recruit.
Here's a look at the top 20:
1. Valley Christian-San Jose.
2. Elk Grove
3. Serra-San Mateo
4. Clayton Valley-Concord
5. Mitty-San Jose
6. St. Mary's-Stockton
7. St. Francis-Mountain View
9. Drake-San Anselmo
10. Yuba City
11. St. Mary's-Berkeley
12. Bishop O'Dowd-Oakland
13. Oak Ridge
14. Bellarmine-San Jose
15. Granite Bay
17. De La Salle-Concord
18. Wilcox-Santa Clara
20. San Ramon Valley-Danville
No. 8 Sheldon boys basketball is showing that it might be OK without star Darius Nelson.
The Huskies upset top-ranked Jesuit 61-59 in Carmichael Wednesday night as sophomore Kyiron Thomas led five Huskies in double figures with 18 points.
Sheldon, now 20-5 overall, is 5-3 and tied for second with Folsom in the Delta River League. Jesuit, led by MacKenzie McCullough's 14 points, remains in first place in the DRL at 7-1 and is 20-5 overall.
Ankle and Achilles' injuries forced the 6-foot-6 Nelson to the sidelines and it's possible he may not return this season. The first game Nelson sat was Sheldon's 64-53 loss to Jesuit at Sheldon on Jan. 27. Since then, the Huskies have won four in a row.
That wasn't the only important game on Wednesday.
No. 10 Woodcreek (19-5, 7-2) moved back into first place in the highly competitive Sierra Foothill League with a surprisingly easy 70-45 win at No. 7 Oakmont. Mike Kurtz led Woodcreek with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Tony Gill topped Oakmont with 21 points and 10 rebounds. The loss dropped the Vikings (16-6, 6-3) into a tie for second with No. 9 Rocklin.
Davis looks like a team that could be a factor in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I playoffs after toppling No. 5 Franklin 58-50 in a Delta Valley Conference game. Franklin (20-4, 8-1) is the No. 1 team in this week's section D-I power ratings. The Blue Devils (14-9, 5-4) are No. 12 but could make a big move up with a win at Kennedy on Friday.
No. 2 Center (21-2, 11-0) moved closer to winning its first league championship outright since 1992 with a 45-35 win at No. 11 Foothill (18-6, 8-3). Elliot Herald topped the Cougars with 16 points.
No. 6 Yuba City climbed to 20-3 overall and 9-0 in the Tri-County Conference with an 83-71 win over Pioneer (18-6, 5-4). Donnie Triphan had 19 points and Zach Nelson 18 to lead the Honkers. James Tillman topped Pioneer with 22 points.
Slams, 3-pointers, and spectacular plays from girls and boys high school basketball in the first half of the league play. Video Highlights from Access Sacramento. Watch Game of the Week every Tuesday at 7 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m. and Saturday at noon on Comcast and Surewest Cable Channel 17.
Connor and Chad Haysbert, with their combination of size and skill, are a huge reason why Center High School is 20-2 overall and ranked No. 2 by The Bee.
But as talented as they are - both also are excellent students - they are completely different personalities.
"Connor is our emotional leader, although he sometimes wears his emotions on his sleeve," said Center coach Ray Gagnon. "Chad is much more quiet. He's OK with sitting back, playing second fiddle and getting his brother the ball."
While the 6-foot-8, 215-pound Connor is getting looks from schools such as Puget Sound and Chico State, 6-7 Chad is the one that both Connor and Gagnon agree will get some major college looks next season.
"Sometimes he amazes me with the things he does," Connor said of his brother.
Adds Gagnon: "Chad can play any position. He reminds me of Doug Christie, and he can knock down threes all day long. Watch out for him next year."
The Home Depot Center in Carson will remain the host site for the California Interscholastic Federation state football bowl championship games it was announced today.
The CIF and representatives from the Home Depot Center signed a three-year deal that will run through the 2012 season.
The Home Depot Center, which has played host to the four previous state bowl events, was selected over Bakersfield College's Memorial Stadium, Buchanan High School in Clovis, the Los Angeles Coliseum, San Jose State University's Spartan Stadium and Stanford Stadium.
Sacramento, a heavy favorite to do some playoff damage in Division III again this season, is led by Josiah Turner. He scored the winner late to beat two-time defending Division I section champion Folsom earlier this season in a nonleague showdown of terrific talents.
Folsom is led by Kori Babineaux, a junior swingman who can dribble, drive, dunk, shoot, rebound and run. Sacramento is led by Turner, a junior guard who can also do it all.
Footage is shot by our trusty assistant - JOCK (Junior Observer, Cameron-Know-it-all). More videos to come...
Boys basketball: Sacramento High School defeats Modesto Christian 77-75
Two lead changes with under eight seconds and a last second lay-up left Sacramento High School mourning and Modesto Christian celebrating 77-75. Video highlights with Will James and Kevin Kelly in the Access Sacramento Game of the Week. Watch Tuesday at 7 p.m. and Friday at 8 p.m. on Comcast and Surewest Cable Ch. 17.
Girls basketball: Sacramento High School Dragons defeat the Modesto Christian Crusaders.
In a non-league high school girls basketball game, the Sacramento High School Dragons defeated the Modesto Christian Crusaders 54-45. Video from Access Sacramento Game of the Week. Tune in Tuesday's at 7 p.m. and Friday's at 8 p.m. on Comcast and Surewest Cable Channel 17.
Attorney Mark Campbell is continuing the battle for Del Oro High School transfer Remi Barry to play basketball at the Loomis school.
Campbell will ask Judge James D. Garbolino at a hearing Friday morning to set aside his Tuesday decision not to grant a stay that would have allowed Barry to play for the Golden Eagles. The 8:30 a.m. hearing is scheduled to be heard in Auburn's Historic Courthouse.
Campbell wants Garbolino to set aside his ruling so that it can be submitted to a different judge.
Campbell filed a peremptory challenge Wednesday asking to disqualify the judge. The challenge contends that Garbolino's marriage to the mayor of Roseville prevented Barry from getting a "fair and impartial hearing."
The California Interscholastic Federation has ruled that Barry's transfer from a Florida private school was "athletically motivated" and violated its bylaws.
Barry already has missed 21 games and there are just five games left in the regular season, including Friday night's game against visiting Oakmont.
The attorney for Del Oro High School transfer Remi Barry has filed a challenge on the French national's behalf to disqualify the judge who ruled against his client on Tuesday, contending that the judge's marriage to the mayor of Roseville prevented Barry from getting a "fair and impartial hearing."
Attorney Mark Campbell filed Barry's request in Placer County Superior Court today to overturn judge James D. Garbolino's decision against granting a stay to Barry in his battle with the California Interscholastic Federation.
The CIF has ruled that Barry's transfer from a Florida private school was "athletically motivated" and violated its bylaws.
The peremptory challenge contends that the denial of the stay happened before the court notified Campbell that his client's case had been assigned to Garbolino on Tuesday morning.
Barry noted that if he had been so notified, he would have filed "this challenge right away, before he denied my request."
Barry contends that since Garbolino is married to Gina Garbolino, the Roseville mayor, and that Woodcreek and Roseville high schools are located in that city and are league rivals of Del Oro, "the judge is prejudiced against me or my interest so that I believe I cannot have a fair and impartial trial or hearing before the judge."
The petition noted that Woodcreek was in first place entering tonight's game against Del Oro.
Jesuit offensive/defensive lineman Josh Hines has signed a National Letter of Intent to play college football at Cal Poly, his coach Dan Carmazzi reported today.
Hines had fine defensive stats in his senior season leading the team in sacks with 5.5 and amassing 81 tackles but, Carmazzi says, his athleticism playing on the offensive line is what garnered interest from Cal Poly -- a team that likes to run veer and option packages.
"He has good quickness off the ball," Carmazzi said, "and his motor is always running."
Two key cogs in Rocklin High School's Division II state runner-up football team signed National Letters of Intent on Wednesday, as running back Jackson Cummings accepted a scholarship from Yale, while Holden Huff accepted one from Boise State.
Cummings, who ran point for the Thunder's state runner-up basketball team last year as a junior, rushed for 2,409 yards and 39 touchdowns and caught two more as a senior this past season.
Huff caught 41 passes, led the team in receiving yards (949) and caught 10 touchdown passes this past season.
There may be no other area school that can match the number of athletes who will move on and play sports on scholarship at the next level than Jesuit.
The Marauders have 11 athletes planning to compete in college starting next fall. Most signed NCAA letters of intent today.
Here's a look at the list, as provided by Jesuit athletic director Phil Nuxoll:
: Soccer: Austin Bravo, St. Mary's; Matt Thayer, UC Santa Barbara; Obiajulu "AJ" Agha, Harvard; Gabe Padilla, Georgetown; Jacob Feener, Seattle. Jesuit won the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I championship and was ranked No. 2 nationally by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America. Padilla and Feener were Delta River League co-players of the year and Feener recorded 52 career shutouts, believed to be a state record.
: Football: Josh Hines, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. The All-Delta River League first team defensive lineman and Bee All-Metro honorable mention selection also will be honored as a scholar-athlete by the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame, Sacramento-area chapter.
: Basketball: James Moore, Harvard. A three-year varsity performer, the 6-foot-8 forward is the Marauders' scoring leader.
: Baseball: Dan Child, Oregon State. The flame-throwing senior pitcher will join former Jesuit teammates Danny Hayes and Andrew Susac in Corvallis.
: Track and Field: Jeremy Hines, Stanford. Josh's identical twin competed in the shot put at the CIF state track championships last season; RJ Frasier, UCLA. Placed fifth in the 300 hurdles and finished fourth as a member of the 400 relay team at the state finals.
: Swimming: Nick Johnson, USC. Four-year varsity performer and one of the area's top swimmers.
You can hear the excitement in Chris Jones' voice.
Vista del Lago's first -- and to date only -- head football coach announced on Wednesday morning that not only would two of his prized linemen signed National Letters of Intent, but they opted to stay in the Northern Sacramento Valley.
Marques White, a 6-foot-3, 245-pound defensive lineman/tight end, signed with Sacramento State while Doug Drakeley, a 6-foot-4, 305-pound offensive/defensive lineman followed in both parents' footsteps in signing with UC Davis.
"It's awesome, I'm excited for them to continue playing, but even more so that we'll be able to watch them play a lot," Jones said.
White had four sacks for the Eagles on the defensive side but could be called upon to block for a bevvy of backfield talent the Hornets feature.
Drakeley, whose parents both attended UC Davis, will play defensive tackle for the Aggies after being a standout on both lines for Vista.
"It's funny, I always envisioned (Drakeley) being an offensive lineman at the collegiate level," Jones said. "But he's a real good athlete for a guy his size, should be able to help."
Former El Dorado High School football coach Rick Redding says that UC Davis is getting a steal in 6-foot-6, 300-pound offensive lineman Ian Joseph, who signed his letter of intent with the Aggies this morning.
Joseph verbally committed to UCD during the summer, primarily because he wants to follow in his mother's footsteps and become a doctor.
But had he not committed, Redding says he could have possibly landed with a Pac-10 school.
"There were at least five to seven other suitors strongly interested in him," Redding said. "UCLA really was interested.
"When you are as good an athlete as Ian, you are going to command a lot of attention. But he really wanted to stay close to home and he has goals beyond football."
Joseph was a unanimous All-Pioneer Valley League first-team selection and made The Bee's All-Metro second team in leading an undermanned Cougars squad that finished 3-7.
He's more than happy with his choice of schools.
"I'm going to college for school, not football," Joseph said. "That's the biggest reason I picked UC Davis. I've seen other schools where football takes precedence over the academics, and that can't really happen for me. I don't see the NFL as a realistic goal - it's not something I'm interested in."
The three-sport athlete at El Dorado - he also plays basketball and is a weight man for the Cougars' track and field team - has wanted to be a doctor since he can remember.
His mother, Kathryn Locatell, is a physician and well known forensics expert on nursing home abuse.
"I really respect what my mother does, and she is good at it," Joseph said. "I've always liked being around her. I see a lot of myself in my mom, and I feel that being a doctor would be a good fit."
Locatell beamed as she watched her son sign his letter of intent this morning.
"It's so exciting," she said. "They make a big deal out of it because they tell you, don't sign before 7 a.m. Ian was pretty much on cloud 9."
Following in the rich tradition of Nevada Union football, defensive end/tight end Dan Pettinato signed a National Letter of Intent to play at Arizona next fall while teammate Eric Niederberger, a linebacker, signed with Colorado State.
Pettinato, 6-foot-4, 235 lbs., led the Miners in receiving yards (700), was second in receptions (35) and fifth in tackles (94) on the defensive side of the ball.
"Dan is a great football player both at tight end and defensive end," Nevada Union coach Dave Humphers said. "Above that he's a hard-worker and a great young man with strong character.
"They're getting a real gem."
Niederberger, who committed to Colorado State last summer, likewise weighed offers from several Pacific-10 Conference schools but ultimately stuck to his word and signed with the Rams.
"They made it awfully tempting for him," Humphers said of Niederberger's potential Pac-10 suitors, "but he really loved his visit to Colorado State and he had given his word."
Niederberger, 6-foot-2, 215 lbs., led the Miners in sacks with nine and was third in tackles with 107 in his senior season in Grass Valley.
Meanwhile, two other key contributors to Nevada Union's Sac-Joaquin Section Division I championship team are without offers.
Quarterback and wing-T wizard Broughan Jantz, who was responsible for just over 2,600 combined yards and 33 touchdowns and kicker Conor Maloney, who hit 74 of 75 PAT attempts, have not received scholarship offers.
"Broughan is the hottest overlooked prospect I've ever seen," Humphers said. "He is easily the best quarterback I've seen in the last five years."
And while Nevada Union has put two kickers into D-I programs in Humphers' reign -- Chris Ulinski went to Utah State last year while Zack McSweeney began at Pacific in 1995 -- he says Maloney is the best he's seen in a Miner uniform.
"(Maloney) will help whichever school ends up with," Humphers said.
Pound for pound, there may be no tougher player than Pleasant Grove's 5-foot-9 Jalen Saunders.
Saunders signed today as a wide receiver with Fresno State, but you can bet than he'll wind up doing more than just catching passes for the Bulldogs down the road.
Saunders played all over the field for the Eagles as an all-purpose dynamo.
Last season, he had 46 catches for 871 yards and 11 touchdowns, rushed for 410 yards and six touchdowns, had 29 tackles, two interceptions and two fumble recoveries as a defensive back and, perhaps, was most dangerous on special teams as a kick and punt returner. He scored 22 touchdowns in earning Bee All-Metro first team all-purpose honors. He also was co-All Purpose Player of the Year in the Delta River League.
In 2008, Saunders filled in at quarterback for the injured Taylor Congdon in leading the Eagles to their first City Championship and, if asked, he'd be more than willing to play on the offensive and defensive lines, despite his slight build.
"Being fearless is a state of mind," Saunders said a few hours after signing his NCAA national letter of intent. "I feel anything is possible on the football field."
Saunders is especially dangerous as a receiver, which seems fitting considering his family ties. His uncle is Webster Slaughter, the former Stockton prep great who played wide receiver in the NFL from 1986 to 1998, catching 563 passes for 8,111 yards and 44 touchdowns.
Slaughter is the brother of Saunders' mother, Yolanda. Saunders' father, Walter, played wide receiver at Idaho before knee injuries dashed any NFL dreams.
Saunders can't wait to play for coach Pat Hill and Fresno State. It's close to home so his family can come and see him play. He'll be playing under wide receivers coach Keith Williams, a friend of his father's and a former teammate at Tokay High School.
Saunders, who started last season at 141 pounds, is bulking up a little.
He has worked his way up to 159 pounds and says coach Pat Hill wants him at least at 160 pounds by the time he reports.
"I've been eating healthy, but mainly it's the (weight) lifting," Saunders said.
Saunders also figures to get a chance to play right away. He said the coaching staff is looking at him to return punts and kickoffs next season, but he's quick to add, "I'm going to have to prove it out on the field."
Del Campo seniors signed letters of intent Wednesday morning at Del Campo High School. Four of the students, from the left are, Dylan Bunfill who signed with Menlo College, Eddie Plantaric who signed with Stanford University, Ryan Dimino who signed with UC Davis, and Jaron Wilson who signed with Harvard University. Photo by Bryan Patrick
There were a lot of grins and sighs of relief at Del Campo High School this morning.
And the fax machine was busy, too.
The Cougars had three players sign with colleges, two with National letters of intent and another with a full financial aid/grant package with an Ivy League powerhouse.
Eddie Plantaric is off to Stanford, where he will play on the defensive line for an up-and-coming program under the tireless Jim Harbaugh. Plantaric was offered a year ago by the Cardinal, who kept close watch on him all season, with Harbaugh even attending a game.
Ryan Dimino, The Bee's Player of the Year, is off to UC Davis to play linebacker. He was moved by the Aggies interest, including when coach Bob Biggs was by his side in the hospital after suffering cracked ribs and a collapsed lung in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III title win over Inderkum. Dimino set state records by becoming the first player to pass for more than 2,000 yards and rushing for 2,700 in the same season.
Jaron Wilson is off to Harvard to play defensive back and pursue an Ivy degree. with a financial aid package that feels very much like a scholarship. Linebacker Dylan Bunfill also received a financial aid package with Division III Menlo College in the Bay Area.
It's a busy day today for Burbank High's Terrance Mitchell.
Earlier this morning, he faxed his official NCAA Letter of Intent to the University of Oregon, where he will play defensive back in the fall.
This afternoon, Mitchell will do a mock signing ceremony at Burbank High School, then he'll do it again with a group of area college football recruits for the television cameras tonight at Strikes in Elk Grove.
"I'm feeling good, I'm looking forward to being a Duck," Mitchell said. "And I'm going to try to represent Sacramento real well."
The 6-foot-2, 180-pound Mitchell is considered the crown jewel of this area's 2010 football recruiting class. He is ranked as the No. 33 cornerback prospect nationally by Rivals.com.
He graduated last Friday from Burbank so that he can enroll in time for spring workouts in March at Oregon.
Mitchell said he has mixed emotions about the early graduation.
"It was pretty sad leaving a lot of my friends," Mitchell said. "I'll see them again today (at the signing), but it's time to move on. I knew my high school days would have to come to a stop at some point. I'm really looking forward to college."
Mitchell verbally committed to Oregon back in May after being named the defensive backs MVP at the Nike Training Camp at Stanford. Based on that experience, he could have waited for more offers to flow in, but when Oregon made a quick bid, Mitchell jumped at the offer.
It's the school he has dreamed of playing for since having attended an Oregon football camp as a freshmen. The Ducks are not only a Pac-10 power, they have been a feeder program to the NFL, especially for defensive backs.
Although he committed during the summer, Mitchell took his official trip to Eugene Dec. 3 to watch Oregon beat rival Oregon State 37-33 in the Civil War Game.
"The atmosphere is incredible," said Mitchell, used to playing in front of small crowds on Saturday afternoons. "I know it's going to be a big change, a big campus."
His biggest memory of that day?
"The love the fans have for the team and the players," Mitchell said. "They love football."
Mitchell got a taste of what's ahead when a student approached and asked him for his autograph.
"He says, 'You're Terrance Mitchell, can you sign this for me?" Mitchell recalled. "It was kind of a shock for me."
Mitchell was a do-everything player for the Titans. The Bee All-Metro first team defensive back also was the Metro Conference Offensive Player of the Year. He had 2,630 all-purpose yards, scored 24 touchdowns, had six interceptions and made 70 tackles.
Mitchell said during the past month he received home visits from head coach Chip Kelly, defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti and defensive backs coach John Neal, who has coached in the college ranks for nearly 30 years.
"Coach Kelly just explained a lot of things about the expectations," Mitchell said. "Everything was pretty straightforward. I've got an opportunity to come in and play. But I have to earn it."
He's also gotten to know some of the Oregon players, including Bryson Littlejohn, a senior linebacker from Laguna Creek.
"I've been to a couple of parties and got to hang out with some of the players," Mitchell said.
Mitchell isn't the only scholarship athlete in the family. Older sister Saycha was an All-Southwestern Conference midfielder for the Texas Southern women's soccer team this past fall.
"She loves it," Mitchell said of his sister's college experience. "We get along real well. She'll call and give me an extra cheer once and awhile."
It was some day for Christian Brothers High School football, and the Falcons haven't played a game since November.
Tight end Asante Cleveland signed a letter of intent to compete for Miami. Linebacker Ekenna Anya-Gafu is headed to Northa Dakota, lineman Dylan Orr to Winona State and receiver/defensive back Austin Moore is off to San Diego.
Also, Jennifer Ericson will play soccer at the University of Utah. All of these seniors signed letters in a group ceremony today at Christian Brothers.
Evan Favors had a dream come true and made history, all at once and all with the swoop of a pen.
The Monterey Trail High School defensive back signed a national football letter-of-intent to compete for Nevada. He is a versatile, explosive athlete who was paramount in helping the Mustangs reach the playoffs for the first time - and reach the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I championship game.
And he's the first full football scholarship player to emerge from one of the newest Elk Grove Unified School District schools.
"Great kid, great player," Monterey Trail coach T.J. Ewing said.
Favors had offers and interest from UC Davis, Cal Poly and San Jose State.
Asante Cleveland has gone from long shot prospect a year ago to big time tight end recruit now.
The Christian Brothers High School tight end made his decision official today, on letter-of-intent day, by signing a scholarship offer with the Miami Hurricanes and then faxing the proper paper work to the Coral Gables school. He was impressed by the coaches, the academic programs, the facilities and football tradition with Miami.
Cleveland, 6-foot-5, 245 pounds, had given a verbal commitment to attend Washington State in September. He said it was difficult to have to call WSU coach Paul Wulff, but added, "Miami really felt right."
Devontae Butler, known as "Booker" on the back in honor of family, will sign a football scholarship letter-of-intent with Washington State on Wednesday morning, continuing Grant High School's tremendous legacy of scholarship signings over the decades.
The senior tailback secures a deal that has been two years in the making as his hard-charging rushing style made him one of the most prolific backs in regional history.
What's more, Butler has worked tirelessly to improve his academic standing after a rocky freshman season. He vowed to earn a scholarship for his efforts, for himself, his school, community and family.
Butler took a recruiting trip to Pullman last week and his family hosted an in-house recruiting visit from WSU coach Paul Wulff in recent days.
Wulff was a Davis High star lineman in the early 1980s who became and all-time WSU great as a center. Wulff had hoped the Cougars could pin their tailback future to another former Sacramento prep great in James Montgomery.
Montgomery led the Cougars in rushing early last season before a serious leg injury sidelined him, likely for good.
Now it's Booker time. Butler rushed for 2,884 yards and 45 touchdowns last fall, despite sitting out the second half of five games due to blowouts.
"It's great news for Booker," Grant coach Mike Alberghini said. "I truly think once he gets up there and shows what he can do, he'll do very well. He's put a lot of work into this."
The Sac-Joaquin Section Power Ratings for girls basketball have been released by the Sac-Joaquin Section.
This is the first ratings release with more to come. The playoff brackets will be released on Feb. 21.
The power division appears to be Division I, where Oak Ridge is rated No. 1, followed by Napa and Kennedy in a field that also includes McClatchy, Pleasant Grove, Sheldon, Franklin-Elk Grove and Lincoln of Stockton.
Oak Ridge made a deep playoff run in D-II last season behind Bee Player of the Year Sara James, but the Trojans have moved to D-I this season due to enrollment.
Bella Vista is rated first in D-II, followed by Granite Bay and Woodcreek.
In D-III, there is a bit of curiosity. St. Mary's is seeded second behind Del Oro despite being the top-ranked team in the country with wins over Sacramento and Kennedy and a national schedule. This is likely to change soon with updates (the first ratings do not include Del Oro's recent losses to St. Francis or Kennedy).
Expect the Rams to remain as the top seed, with Sacramento also expected to make a move, too. The Dragons are No. 4 now, behind Vanden.
Argonaut, Modesto Christian, Bear River and West Campus are rated in that order in D-IV.
Turlock Christian and Bradshaw Christian are the top seeds in D-V.
The Sac-Joaquin Section has released the first power ratings for boys basketball for 2009-2010 and some teams are sitting pretty but others, surprisingly, are on the bubble for the 16 qualifying playoff positions in Division I through V.
Here's a look by divisions:
D-I - Franklin of Elk Grove holds the top spot, ahead of No. 2 Turlock, No. 3 Merced, No. 4 Burbank and No. 5 Oak Ridge. Sheldon, despite a 15-5 overall record in the power rating formula, is No. 15. Three losses in the Delta River League have hurt the Huskies. Nevada Union is at No. 16, Kennedy, No. 17 and Pleasant Grove, No. 18.
D-II - Jesuit is No. 1, with Woodcreek (2), Fairfield (3), Yuba City (4) and Rocklin (5) among the top five. Bubble teams - No. 14 Bella Vista, No. 15 Valley, No. 16 Inderkum, No. 17 Laguna Creek, No. 18 Granite Bay and No. 19 Elk Grove. Valley and Granite Bay have overall records of 14-5 and 14-8, respectively, but losing records in their respective leagues are hurting them.
D-III - Sacramento is No 1, with Vista del Lago (2), Rio Americano (3), St. Mary's-Stockton (4) and Center (5) among the top five. Bubble teams - No. 13 Placer, No. 14 El Dorado, No. 18 Whitney.
D-IV - Colfax is No. 1, with Calaveras (2), Christian Brothers (3), Modesto Christian (4) and Central Catholic (5) among the top five. Bubble teams - No. 14 San Juan, No. 15 Vacaville Christian, No. 17 Capital Christian, No. 18 Encina and No. 19 Bear River.
D-V - Ripon Christian is No. 1, with Victory Christian (2), Bradshaw Christian (3), Valley Christian-Roseville (4) and Sacramento Waldorf (5) among the top five. Bubble teams - No. 19 Delta and No. 20 Wilton Christian.
The next power ratings will be released on Feb. 8.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.