Joe Davidson

Woodcreek boys, Oak Ridge girls basketball ranked No. 1 in preseason

Oak Ridge and McClatchy players scramble for a loose ball in the second quarter in the girls Sac-Joaquin Section Division I playoff game, in El Dorado Hills, Calif. After going 29-3 last season, Oak Ridge earns The Bee’s preseason No. 1 ranking.
Oak Ridge and McClatchy players scramble for a loose ball in the second quarter in the girls Sac-Joaquin Section Division I playoff game, in El Dorado Hills, Calif. After going 29-3 last season, Oak Ridge earns The Bee’s preseason No. 1 ranking. jvillegas@sacbee.com

On the eve of the Woodcreek boys basketball team’s first practice this fall, coach Paul Hayes succinctly assessed his team.

“I think we can be pretty darn good this season,” the coach said.

Hayes was spot on.

The Timberwolves earned The Bee’s preseason No. 1 ranking based on program pedigree and a wealth of returning players, none better or bigger than national recruit Jordan Brown, a 6-foot-10 junior center. Woodcreek is 7-0, including a 72-45 rout of then-Northern California No. 1 Salesian of Richmond on Saturday in the final of the Gridley Tournament.

Brown had 26 points, 18 rebounds and four blocked shots to win tournament MVP honors. He is complemented by guards Jackson Hughes, Truman Sharp and Tyrell Roberts and forward Chris Cagle.

Second-ranked Capital Christian opened the season with an 82-71 win over then-state No. 11 Alemany of Mission Hills as guard Zach Chappell went for 38 points. The Cougars have just two seniors – Austin Alexander and Conor Jeffery.

Woodcreek and Capital Christian probably will be placed in the prestigious Open Division for the Northern California playoffs. Bee-ranked No. 3 Sheldon and No. 4 Folsom were NorCal Open teams last season and could return after big seasons. Woodcreek is ranked No. 8 in the state by Cal-Hi Sports and Capital Christian No. 19.

No. 3 Sheldon, which opens its season Wednesday at state power Mitty of San Jose, has one of the region’s top backcourts with Elishja Duplechan and Drew Cobb. No. 4 Folsom graduated all-state guard Jordan Ford (now at Saint Mary’s) but returns standout center Mason Forbes. The Bulldogs are 6-0 after beating No. 8 Vista del Lago 55-26 on Saturday for the Folsom-Vista Tournament championship.

Fifth-ranked Burbank and No. 7 Sacramento will battle for the Metropolitan Conference title again. Earl Allen takes over for longtime Sacramento coach Derek Swafford, now in an administrative role at Fortune School of Education, a local charter school. In 16 seasons at Sac High, Swafford’s teams won 15 league titles and six Sac-Joaquin Section banners and reached the NorCal playoffs 11 times.

Girls – Oak Ridge received The Bee’s preseason No. 1 ranking after going 29-3 last season with one of the biggest teams in the state, headed by returning star Kassidy DeLapp. In the midst of playing a national schedule, the Trojans (3-3) won’t face a section team until they open Sierra Foothill League play against No. 6 Folsom on Jan. 4.

Second-ranked McClatchy lost coach Jessica Kunisaki, who earned Bee Coach of the Year honors when the Lions won the CIF State Division I championship in 2014. Longtime Lions assistant Jeff Ota takes over for Kunisaki, now an assistant women’s coach at Sacramento State. Ota’s top player is Utah-bound shooting forward Jordan Cruz.

Third-ranked Elk Grove returns Bee Player of the Year Mira Shulman, while No. 4 Sacramento will battle rival McClatchy for the Metropolitan Conference title.

Fifth-ranked West Campus, 25-8 last season, will be bolstered by standout guards Nadia and Nia Johnson, sisters who transferred from Antelope. No. 7 St. Francis won the CIF NorCal Division I title last season under Bee Coach of the Year Vic Pitton.

Folsom is powered by Cal-bound guard McKenzie Forbes, Mason’s sister.

The area’s most dynamic freshman is 5-7 combo guard Maile Williams of Inderkum. She already has drawn interest from college coaches across the country.

Joe Davidson: 916-321-1280, @SacBee_JoeD

The Bee's preseason Top 20

Boys Basketball

with last year's record

1. Woodcreek (20-9)

2. Capital Christian (19-10)

3. Sheldon (23-6)

4. Folsom (27-5)

5. Burbank (22-7)

6. Jesuit (25-6)

7. Sacramento (30-2)

8. Vista del Lago (21-10)

9. Christian Brothers (17-11)

10. Granite Bay (20-9)

11. Rio Linda (18-10)

12. Elk Grove (20-9)

13. Placer (27-5)

14. Whitney (25-7)

15. Inderkum (20-8)

16. Liberty Ranch (30-2)

17. Kennedy (16-12)

18. Antelope (24-9)

19. Yuba City (18-10)

20. Marysville (12-15)

- Joe Davidson

Girls

1. Oak Ridge (29-3)

2. McClatchy (23-6)

3. Elk Grove (24-11)

4. Sacramento (24-10)

5. West Campus (25-8)

6. Folsom (21-9)

7. St. Francis (29-6)

8. Antelope (29-3)

9. Rio Linda (20-12)

10. Christian Brothers (25-8)

11. Inderkum (24-9)

12. Capital Christian (23-8)

13. River Valley (24-6)

14. Franklin (18-10)

15. Roseville (16-13)

16. Davis (13-15)

17. Del Oro (11-16)

18. Rosemont (21-7)

19. Ponderosa (18-11)

20. Colfax (22-7)

- Joe Davidson

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