What is the ‘competitive equity’ model? And why it works in CIF prep basketball playoffs

Just three days after winning the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III championship banner at Golden 1 Center, coach Mike Ruble, right, and his Bradshaw Christian girls basketball team put a scare into Menlo School in the first round of the CIF NorCal Regional Division II playoffs. Bradshaw Christian was the No. 16 seed; Menlo School is the No. 1 seed.
Just three days after winning the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III championship banner at Golden 1 Center, coach Mike Ruble, right, and his Bradshaw Christian girls basketball team put a scare into Menlo School in the first round of the CIF NorCal Regional Division II playoffs. Bradshaw Christian was the No. 16 seed; Menlo School is the No. 1 seed.

It’s complex by title, perhaps, but not in meaning, purpose and results.

The competitive-equity model the California Interscholastic Federation — the state governing body for high school sports — used to seed the Northern California basketball playoffs is in its third year, and it works. The objective was to set up as many evenly matched teams as possible.

For decades, the CIF used what many of its 10 sections across the state employ for seeding tournaments: an enrollment-based formula. But the results were often brutal with lower seeds getting run out of the gym, often by 40 or more points.

Tuesday night’s opening round offered more proof that the current model reaps good rewards. They’re not so much stunning seedings upsets as they are teams on more of an equal field. This is especially true in girls play, as blowouts have for years dulled the opening rounds.

Union Mine as a No. 16 seed toppled No. 1 Christian Brothers 54-47 in Division III, which was not a shocker, given how good Union is.

In Division II girls, No. 16 Bradshaw Christian put a scare into top-seeded Menlo School, falling 66-56 with one of the Pride’s top players — Cookie Marquest — sideline with a knee injury.

That Bradshaw Christian was seeded so low was the one glaring surprise of the girls brackets, considering the Pride beat Christian Brothers for the Sac-Joaquin Section D-III title. But the seeding committee deemed Bradshaw Christian to be D-II worthy, and they nearly jolted the field.

Also in Division II, No. 15 Elk Grove fell to No. 2 Clovis 49-44.

More seedings upsets, or near ones, will make for a better tournament.

Western Sierra out

St. Bernard’s wasn’t upset seedings wise Tuesday in D-V girls action, but the Crusaders of Eureka were plenty upset otherwise.

St. Bernard’s opening opponent was Western Sierra of Rocklin, but the Wolves elected to forfeit instead of making the 6-hour, 305-mile trip north, citing an issue with transportation.

What Western Sierra should have done was opt out of the tournament when asked by the CIF last week if it planned to continue its season. Teams have that option. The Modoc girls opted out last week.

“Teams are always asked if they want to continue, and 99 percent always say yes,” said Roger Blake, executive director of the CIF. “The CIF and the Sac-Joaquin Section (of which Western Sierra is a member) will address the consequences. This can’t happen.”

Weather woes

Two of Wednesday’s Division VI games were postponed to Thursday due to weather and road concerns, the CIF confirmed.

No. 6 Laytonville of Mendocino County was scheduled to make the 4-hour, 200-mile trip to Roseville to play No. 3 Valley Christian, and No. 5 Point Arena, also of Mendocino, was set to visit No. 4 American Christian Academy of Anderson, a 6-hour, 255-mile trip.

Trim down

Nineteen area girls teams and 10 boys clubs advanced to the NorCal rounds, and it was whittled to eight for girls and five for boys.

Boys D-II includes three area teams in No. 3 Grant, No. 7 Sacramento and No. 13 Rocklin. The top seed is St. Mary’s of Stockton, which defeated Grant to win the Sac-Joaquin Section title.

The boys have no regional teams in Divisions III, IV, V or VI.

Grant on Thursday hosts No. 6 St. Joseph of Notre Dame of Alameda, led by one of the top coaches in state history. Don Lippi is an ageless and tireless 71-year old, in his 40th season coaching boys, a winner of 872 games and 16 section championships. Since 2004, he has led St. Joseph to seven NorCal and four CIF state banners.

Also Thursday, old rivals meet in Oak Park when top-seeded Sacramento hosts No. 8 McClatchy in a D-I girls game.

The teams were Metro League members for decades before realignment shifted Sacramento to the Capital Athletic League. Some of the best regular-season games in recent history have been contested by these programs.

Bulldogs pounce

Seeded ninth, the Folsom boys eliminated No. 8 Riordan of San Francisco in D-I to earn a shot back in the Bay Area on Friday when it plays at top-seeded James Logan of Union City. Folsom competed in the Open last season, beating top-seeded Salesian, and graduated all five starters.

Against Riordan, junior Tiler Fears had 14 points, junior forward DeShawn Lynch 12, freshman guard Malik Rose 10 and junior guard Cameron Wall nine.

For complete brackets:

Wrestling champs

Yelena Makoyed of Bella Vista won the CIF State girls wrestling championship at 160 pounds and Tavi Heidelberg of McClatchy was a repeat state winner at 235 pounds.

Adrienna Turner of Davis was third at 106 pounds, Desinee Lopez of Folsom was second at 116 and Emily Se of Oak Ridge was third at 126.

The highest local boys finisher was Noah Blake of Del Oro, who placed second at 160 pounds. He’s the program’s first four-time state medalist.

Justin Ramos of Vista del Lago was third at 285, and Levi Markey of Del Campo was fourth at 285. Finishing fifth were JT Stinson of East Nicolaus at 152 and Kyle Richards of Folsom at 220. Peter Ming of Elk Grove was sixth at 195.

Soccer season

Top-seeded Davis beat No. 8 St. Ignatius of San Francisco 1-0 in a CIF NorCal Division I girls soccer opener on a Summer Baron goal in the 71st minute amid wind and rain.

The Blue Devils (21-0-1) host No. 4 San Ramon Valley of Danville — a 1-0 winner over Granite Bay — on Thursday in a semifinal.

Davis is 85-1-8 under coach Sara Stone since 2014, falling to Carondelet of Concord 2-1 in the NorCal playoffs last season. Carondelet is seeded second in this tournament.

In girls D-II, St. Francis, which tied Davis 0-0 in Delta League play Feb. 1, beat Leland of San Jose 2-0 in a NorCal opener.

Janae DeFazio and Lindsey Porter scored for the No. 4 Troubadours, who host No. 8 Cardinal Newman on Thursday. Cardinal Newman beat top-seeded Whitney 2-1.

In girls D-IV, No. 6 El Camino beat No. 3 Mt. Shasta in Redding 1-0 in a match that was postponed two hours due to poor field conditions and, ultimately, moved to nearby University Prep.

With No. 7 Campolindo of Moraga upsetting No. 2 Sacred Heart Prep of Atherton, El Camino now gets to host Campolindo on its new all-weather field turf.

The top seed in D-IV is Liberty Ranch, which hosts No. 5 Miramonte on Thursday in a semifinal.

The only area boys team still alive in soccer is Jesuit in D-I.

The No. 2-seeded Marauders beat No. 7 Branham of San Jose 4-1 and will host No. 3 Berkeley in a semifinal Thursday.

Elijah Beverley, Matt Kahn, Jake L’Ecuyer and Chris Myers scored for the Marauders.

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Joe Davidson has covered sports for The Sacramento Bee since 1988 and is award-winning authority on high school sports, specializing in going behind the scenes. Davidson was a high school athlete in Oregon, where he participated in football and track.