High School Sports

Successful boys basketball coaches are trying to do the same for their girls

Jesse Formaker has had success coaching boys basketball at Franklin. He now leads the girls team.
Jesse Formaker has had success coaching boys basketball at Franklin. He now leads the girls team. Sacramento Bee file

Sizing up the Sac-Joaquin Section basketball playoffs in under 35 seconds (we adhere to the shot clock here):

Gender speaking – Jesse Formaker and Patrick Roth carved out nice careers as boys coaches, winning league championships, winning in the playoffs and reaching the Northern California regional rounds.

Formaker did it at Hayward High School and at Franklin, and Roth did so at nearby Cosumnes Oaks.

These days, the coaches are leading girls teams, Formaker at Franklin and Roth at Cosumnes Oaks. The girls may compete below the rim, but it’s coaching, leading and achievement, which makes it worthwhile for the hoops lifers.

Formaker and Roth lead teams in the Division I fields as dark-horse threats to heavily favored seeds that loom from the 209 area code. Franklin, seeded eighth, plays host to No. 9 Woodcreek on Tuesday night while No. 6 Cosumnes Oaks hosts No. 11 Turlock. A Franklin win likely means a date at No. 1 Bear Creek in Stockton on Thursday, and a Cosumnes Oaks victory likely earns it a date at St. Mary’s of Stockton, winners of 11 consecutive section championships, the last six in D-I.

McCauley might – Meshal McCauley was a part of two CIF State D-II championship teams at Grant in 1988 and ’89 under coach Connie Zuercher, and now she heads the storied Pacers, who have endured tough times of late but have found an old familiar groove.

At 17-10, Grant has distanced itself from recent seasons of 2-20, 4-20 and 2-18. The Pacers, seeded 14th in D-II and opening at No. 3 Whitney, are led by sophomore guard Diamond Richardson, who averages 21 points per game.

McCauley worked wonders at nearby Foothill, going from lean seasons her first two years as coach to posting marks of 27-6 and 25-5 in each of the previous two campaigns. Foothill went 0-22 this season.

Ray gun – Ray Gagnon is a 500-game winner, achieving the milestone with combined stints as the Center girls coach (17 seasons) and the Center boys (the last 12 seasons).

But what has evaded Gagnon with the boys is a section title. His girls team reached the D-III finals in 1994 and won it in 2001, beating Bear River in D-III with star Renee Wright. Gagnon’s boys team lost to Sacramento in the section finals in 2011 a year after falling to Sac High in the NorCal semifinals.

His current team is seeded No. 8 in D-III and is led by guard Michael Worthan, who averages 14.6 points. He is one of the section’s top two-sport athletes, having led the football team at quarterback.

Big Red Lancers – Cordova boys coach Fletcher Johnson had early in the season has grown and matured.

The Lancers endured an 86-26 loss to Franklin and a 79-36 setback to Rocklin before settling in and winning the Greater Sacramento League at 10-0 to land the No. 13 seed in D-III. Cordova is led by Sam Danielyan (16.9 points), Isaiah Bolden (14.4), Reimont Stallworth (12.0 points) and Kenneth Brown (11.2).

Generation gap – Tony Camillucci has fielded a number of stellar girls teams at Placer over two decades, and this one resonates just the same.

Placer has won 11 consecutive games and are No. 3 seed in D-III, led by captains Tyra Al-Mujadid, Anne Lillis and Delaney Keddie.

“There isn’t anything I don’t like about this team,” Camillucci said. “You hear drama brought up a lot among sports teams, but this year, I have not seen any. This makes coaching more relaxing. (Assistant coach) Lisa Menconi and I are laughing on the bench more and stressing less about wins because we can see the girls having a good time with teammates they love.”

Camillucci was a star player at Colfax for Ron Pucci in the early 1980s, at the same time Menconi was a key cog for the Colfax girls and coach John Alba when the Falcons won CIF State D-III titles in 1983 and ‘84.

Pride matters – Nearly every team bristles at its section playoff seeding at one point or another, and that is the Bradshaw Christian girls this week.

The Pride are 14-13 in facing a brutal schedule, and they were seeded eighth in D-III with a potential showdown at top-seeded Vanden on Thursday. With seven section titles under coach Mike Ruble at lower levels, the Pride have been moved up in division.

They are led by junior guard Anaya Mejia (18.1 points, 10.1 rebounds) and senior guard Cookie Marques (12.9 points).

Fabulous freshmen – Laguna Creek is 25-3 and will host Roseville on Tuesday in a D-II girls opener, a far cry from the 3-24 effort of a year ago.

Coach Cody Norman has an all-freshmen group that includes Ahrray Young (17.7 points a game), Zoe Tillery (15.1), Eva Taylor (9.3), Lesieli Manupule (7.5) and Alicia Enriquez (7.1). Laguna Creek reached three D-I title games in the early 2000s, winning in 2003 and 2004.

Miner magic (again) – Nevada Union was a girls basketball juggernaut under coach Craig Strohm, reaching 10 D-I title games from 1988-99, winning five titles. Jenn Krill, who was part of those championship teams, is the fourth year Miners coach, leading her best team.

NU (18-10) is led by 5-foot-11 senior Meado Aragon, averaging 19.8 points, 12.1 rebounds, 2.3 steals and 2.0 blocks. The Miners are seeded fifth in D-III and open against No. 12 Cordova.

Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs

Here are all the opening-round games for boys and girls.


Division I

Play-in game Monday at 7 p.m.

No. 17 Inderkum at No. 16 St. Francis

All games Tuesday at 7 p.m.

St. Francis/Inderkum at No. 1 Bear Creek

No. 9 Woodcreek at No. 8 Franklin

No. 12 Davis at No. 5 Oak Ridge No. 13 Monterey Trail at No. 4 Folsom

No. 14 Pitman at No. 3 St. Mary’s

No. 11 Turlock at No. 6 Cosumnes Oaks

No. 10 Edison at No. 7 Lincoln-Stockton

No. 15 Enochs at No. 2 McClatchy

Division II

Play-in game Monday at 5:30 p.m.

No. 17 McNair at No. 16 Mira Loma

All games Tuesday at 7 p.m.

Mira Loma/McNair at No. 1 Antelope

No. 9 Vista del Lago at No. 8 Granite Bay

No. 12 Rodriguez at No. 5 Elk Grove

No. 13 Wood at No. 4 Del Oro

No. 14 Grant at No. 3 Whitney

No. 11 Modesto Christian at No. 6 Atwater

No. 10 Roseville at No. 7 Laguna Creek

No. 15 Lincoln at No. 2 Sacramento

Division III

Play-in game Monday at 7 p.m.

No. 17 Center at No. 16 Pioneer

All games Tuesday at 7 p.m.

Pioneer/Center at No. 1 Vanden

No. 9 Livingston at No. 8 Bradshaw Christian

No. 12 Cordova at No. 5 Nevada Union

No. 13 El Capitan at No. 4 Manteca

No. 14 Merced at No. 3 Placer

No. 11 Beyer at No. 6 Kimball

No. 10 East Union at No. 7 Lathrop

No. 15 Los Banos at No. 2 Christian Brothers

Division IV

Play-in game Monday at 7 p.m.

No. 17 Natomas at No. 16 Bear River

All games Tuesday at 7 p.m.

Bear River/Natomas at No. 1 Colfax

No. 9 Highlands at No. 8 Dixon

No. 12 Orestimba at No. 5 Ripon

No. 13 Hughson at No. 4 Union Mine

No. 14 Mountain House at No. 3 Sonora

No. 11 El Dorado at No. 6 Capital Christian

No. 10 Central Catholic at No. 7 Calaveras

No. 15 Liberty Ranch at No. 2 West Campus

Division V

All games Tuesday at 7 p.m.

No. 9 Hughes at No. 8 Rio Vista

No. 11 Millennium at No. 6 Leroy Greene

No. 10 Holt at No. 7 Le Grand

All games Thursday at 7 p.m.

No. 5 Golden Sierra at No. 4 Western Sierra

Rio Vista/Hughes at No. 1 Mariposa

Holt/Le Grand at No. 2 Argonaut

Leroy Greene/Millennium at No. 3 Woodland Christian

Division VI

All games Tuesday at 7 p.m.

No. 9 Victory Christian at No. 8 Sacramento Adventist

No. 10 New Life Christian at No. 7 Stockton Christian

All games Thursday at 7 p.m.

No. 5 Turlock Christian at No. 4 Ripon Christian

No. 6 Sacramento Waldorf at No. 3 Vacaville Christian

Victory Christian/Sacramento Adventist at No. 1 Forest Lake Christian

New Life Christian/Stockton Christian at No. 2 Valley Christian


Division I

Play-in games Monday at 7 p.m.

No. 17 Modesto at No. 16 Edison

No. 18 Bear Creek at No. 15 Pleasant Grove

All games Wednesday at 7 p.m.

Modesto/Edison vs. No. 1 Sheldon

No. 9 Davis at No. 8 Monterey Trail

No. 12 Kennedy at No. 5 Oak Ridge

No. 13 Turlock at No. 4 Jesuit

No. 14 Chavez at No. 3 Modesto Christian

No. 11 Tracy at No. 6 Capital Christian

No. 10 Gregori at No. 7 Franklin

Bear Creek/Pleasant Grove at No. 2 Folsom

Division II

Play-in games Monday at 7 p.m.

No. 18 Buhach Colony at No. 15 Elk Grove

No. 17 Vista del Lago at No. 16 Lincoln

All games Wednesday at 7 p.m.

Lincoln/Vista del Lago at No. 1 Grant

No. 9 Ponderosa at No. 8 Roseville

No. 12 Rodriguez at No. 5 Sacramento

No. 13 Woodcreek at No. 4 Whitney

No. 14 Granite Bay at No. 3 St. Mary’s

No. 11 Inderkum at No. 6 Burbank

No. 10 River Valley at No. 7 Rio Americano

Elk Grove/Buhach Colony at No. 2 Rocklin

Division III

Play-in games Monday at 7 p.m.

No. 18 Florin at No. 15 Mira Loma

No. 17 Lathrop at No. 16 Sierra

All games Wednesday at 7 p.m.

Sierra/Lathrop at No. 1 Weston Ranch

No. 9 El Capitan at No. 8 Center

No. 12 Kimball at No. 5 Vanden

No. 13 Cordova at No. 4 Manteca

No. 14 Del Campo at No. 3 Central Catholic

No. 11 Placer at No. 6 El Camino

No. 10 Beyer at No. 7 Golden Valley

Mira Loma/Florin at No. 2 Wood

Division IV

Play-in game Monday at 7 p.m.

No. 17 Venture Academy at No. 16 Dixon

All games Wednesday at 7 p.m.

Venture Academy/Dixon at No. 1 Liberty Ranch

No. 9 Calaveras at No. 8 Bear River

No. 12 Mesa Verde at No. 5 Mountain House

No. 13 Amador at No. 4 Ripon

No. 14 Highlands at No. 3 West Campus

No. 11 El Dorado at No. 6 Marysville

No. 10 Foothill at No. 7 Union Mine

No. 15 Riverbank at No. 2 Sonora

Division V

All games Wednesday at 7 p.m.

No. Rio Vista at No. 8 Woodland Christian

No. 12 Hughes at No. 5 Mariposa

No. 13 Gustine at No. 4 Ripon Christian

No. 14 Leroy Greene at No. 3 Sacramento Adventist

No. 11 Denair at No. 6 Bradshaw Christian

No. 10 Western Sierra at No. 7 Foresthill

No. 15 Holt at No. 2 Argonaut

Bye: No. 1 Brookside Christian

Division VI

All games Wednesday at 7 p.m.

No. 9 Alpha Charter at No. 8 Turlock Christian

No. 12 Freedom Christian at No. 5 Forest Lake Christian

No. 11 Lodi Academy at No. 6 Faith Christian

No. 10 Valley Christian at No. 7 Victory Christian

Byes: No. 1 Stockton Christian, No. 2 Sacramento Waldorf, No. 3 Vacaville Christian, No. 4 Big Valley Christian

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.