Joe Davidson

Folsom boys basketball team to host El Cerrito in loaded NorCal Open Division

Folsom High School head coach Mike Wall instructs his players.
Folsom High School head coach Mike Wall instructs his players.

The joy of winning championship games at Sleep Train Arena lasted but a few hours.

Now the real grind starts for nine boys and 11 girls basketball programs in the area that now match wits against those from different sections, some near, some very far away, in the CIF Northern California Regional tournaments that start this week in seven divisions.

Coming off of a stirring 50-49, down-to-the-wire Sac-Joaquin Section Division I title finish over Sheldon, Folsom settled for a No. 4 seed in the prestigious and hugely competitive Open Division boys bracket. How stacked is the field?

Folsom (27-4) on Friday will host No. 5 El Cerrito (29-3), which has won 12 consecutive games, last losing a nonleague game at Sheldon on the final play, 62-61.

Should Folsom survive that opener, it likely will draw state No. 1 Bishop O’Dowd (24-4), which is unbeaten in California and has lost only to national powers. Folsom is the third area team to represent the section in the Open in the three years since the division was created to help balance the powerhouse programs dotted in different divisions. Sheldon in 2013 and Capital Christian in 2014 reached the NorCal Open final at Sleep Train.

Said Folsom coach Mike Wall: “We’re gritty. We know how to win. It’s a special group that plays great together. The Open is a real bear. It’s really, really, really good.”

Folsom coaches were perplexed as to how the Bulldogs did not earn the No. 3 seed that went to Moreau Catholic, which lost to O’Dowd in the North Coast Section D-III final. Bay Area section commissioners who lobby for their schools have long viewed their brand of ball as superior to Sacramento’s, though section champions generally earn higher seedings than runners-up.

Said Wall on Saturday night, “We need to do a better job of defining what is an Open school and what’s not in the rules.”

All section semifinalists advance to the NorCal field, and section runners-up drew favorable draws. Sheldon (21-7) is the No. 2 seed in the D-I field, opposite De La Salle (26-4), which lost on two missed free throws with half a second remaining to Monte Vista of Danville in the North Coast Section D-I final on Saturday. Monte Vista is the No. 2 Open seed.

Sheldon and De La Salle have opening-round byes. Sheldon coach Joey Rollings, with no seniors in the starting lineup, was delighted with his team’s effort against Folsom and likes his team’s chances to return to Sleep Train on March 21 for the NorCal final.

“I like it a lot,” he said of his team’s outlook. “Folsom made it to the state finals last year (in D-II), and we’re young. We’re all juniors and sophomores. We got a lot to learn right now, but you know, it’s all (a bonus) right now.

“We’re excited about what’s coming up next. We’d like to make the NorCal finals, and maybe state finals. So we’re looking ahead to big things.”

Sacramento (26-5) had a 17-game winning streak halted in a 49-46 last-play loss to Modesto Christian in the D-II section final yet emerged as the top seed in the NorCal D- II bracket. Modesto Christian (28-3), the seventh Open seed, opens at Monte Vista (27-3).

“We’re not done yet,” Sacramento coach Derek Swafford said. “We can still win this thing.”

A year after reaching the NorCal Open final, the Capital Christian boys, winners of the D-IV section title, drew a No. 4 seed. The Cougars (23-8) open against Lassen (20-7) on Wednesday.

“We think we can make a real run at the state championship,” Capital Christian coach Devon Jones said. “We’re getting better.”

In boys D-VI, Sacramento Country Day (26-4), with four prolific freshmen, earned a No. 2 seed and will open against visiting California School for the Deaf (19-11) on Wednesday.

For the girls, McClatchy (23-7) earned the No. 1 seed in D-I after falling to national power and Open top seed St. Mary’s of Stockton in the section championship game.

Oak Ridge, which lost to McClatchy in the section semifinals, received the No. 2 D-I seed. McClatchy and Oak Ridge (25-4) have opening byes.

Bradshaw Christian (23-9) won the section D-IV title, beating Brookside Christian of Stockton as Erika Bean scored 29 points, thus earning the No. 3 seed in the NorCal bracket and an opening bye.

Capital Christian (17-11), fresh off its first D-V section title, received a No. 6 seed in the NorCal field and opens at home Wednesday against Weed (23-6) in a doubleheader with the Capital boys.

Two-time defending D-VI section champion Valley Christian Academy of Roseville (25-3), seeded fourth, opens against Round Valley in Covelo (17-11).

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA REGIONAL HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL PLAYOFFS

BOYS

OPEN DIVISION

Friday, 7 p.m.

No. 8 Saint Francis at No. 1 Bishop O’Dowd

No. 5 El Cerrito at No. 4 Folsom

No. 6 Serra at No. 3 Moreau Catholic

No. 7 Modesto Christian at No. 2 Monte Vista


DIVISION I

Wednesday, 7 p.m.

No. 9 Washington at No. 8 McClymonds

No. 12 Freedom at No. 5 Bellarmine

No. 11 Fremont at No. 6 Pleasant Grove

No. 10 Salinas at No. 7 Berkeley

Byes: No. 1 De La Salle, No. 2 Sheldon,

No. 3 San Ramon Valley, No. 4 Woodcreek.


DIVISION II

Wednesday, 7 p.m.

No. 9 San Marin at No. 8 Los Altos

No. 10 Pleasant Valley at No. 7 Las Lomas

Byes: No. 1 Sacramento, No. 2 Archbishop Mitty, No. 3 Montgomery, No. 4 St. Mary’s, No. 5 Dublin, No. 6 Cosumnes Oaks.


DIVISION III

Wednesday, 7 p.m.

No. 9 Aptos at No. 8 Weston Ranch

No. 12 Encinal at No. 5 Mission

No. 13 Manteca at No. 4 Foothill

No. 11 Albany at No. 6 Riordan

No. 10 Vanden at No. 7 Sacred Heart Cathedral

Byes: No. 1 Drake, No. 2 Campolindo,

No. 3 Sierra.


DIVISION IV

Wednesday, 7 p.m.

No. 9 Anderson at No. 8 Liberty Ranch

No. 12 West Campus at No. 5 Palma

No. 13 Lassen at No. 4 Capital Christian

No. 14 Mesa Verde at No. 3 Sacred Heart Prep

No. 11 Saint Mary’s at No. 6 Santa Cruz

No. 10 St. Patrick/St. Vincent’s

at No. 7 Half Moon Bay

Byes: No. 1 Marin Catholic,

No. 2 Cardinal Newman.


DIVISION V

Wednesday, 7 p.m.

No. 9 Forest Lake Christian at No. 8 Hamilton

No. 12 Mariposa County at No. 5 Woodside Priory

Byes: No. 1 Stuart Hall, No. 4 Brookside Christian.


DIVISION VI

No. 8 Anderson Valley at No. 1 Liberty Christian

No. 5 Valley Christian Academy

at No. 4 Archbishop Hanna

No. 6 Paradise at No. 3 St. Bernard’s

No. 7 California School for the Deaf

at No. 2 Sacramento Country Day

GIRLS

OPEN DIVISION

Friday, 7 p.m.

No. 8 Modesto Christian

at No. 1 St. Mary’s-Stockton

No. 5 Saint Mary’s-Berkeley

at No. 4 Sacred Heart Cathedral

No. 6 St. Ignatius at No. 3 Salesian

No. 7 Pinewood at No. 2 Miramonte


DIVISION I

Wednesday, 7 p.m.

No. 9 Clayton Valley Charter at No. 8 Davis

No. 12 Lowell at No. 5 Pittsburg

No. 13 Oakland at No. 4 Palo Alto

No. 14 Lincoln at No. 3 Berkeley

No. 11 Menlo-Atherton at No. 6 James Logan

No. 10 Oakland Tech at No. 7 North Salinas

Byes: No. 1 McClatchy, No. 2 Oak Ridge


DIVISION II

Wednesday, 7 p.m.

No. 9 Pleasant Valley at No. 8 Del Oro

No. 11 Novato at No. 6 Antelope

No. 10 Windsor at No. 7 Presentation

Byes: No. 1 Dublin, No. 2 Carondelet,

No. 3 Mitty, No. 4 Kimball, No. 5 Saint Francis.


DIVISION III

Wednesday, 7 p.m.

No. 9 Hillsdale at No. 8 Moreau Catholic

No. 12 Florin at No. 5 Shasta

No. 10 Patterson at No. 7 Branham

No. 11 Eureka at No. 6 Rio Linda

Byes: No. 1 Vanden, No. 2 Bishop O’Dowd,

No. 3 Valley Christian


DIVISION IV

Wednesday, 7 p.m.

No. 9 Anderson at No. 8 Notre Dame

No. 12 Dixon at No. 5 Menlo School

No. 13 Justin-Siena at No. 4 Brookside Christian

No. 11 West Campus at No. 6 Piedmont

No. 10 Arcata at No. 7 Central Valley


DIVISION V

Wednesday, 7 p.m.

No. 9 San Domenico at No. 8 Ripon Christian

No. 12 Notre Dame at No. 5 University

No. 13 Argonaut at No. 4 Durham

No. 11 Weed at No. 6 Capital Christian

No. 10 Woodland Christian at No. 7 St. Francis

Byes: No. 1 Eastside Prep, No. 2 Valley Christian, No. 3 St. Joseph-Notre Dame


DIVISION VI

Wednesday, 7 p.m.

No. 8 Tulelake at No. 1 St. Bernard’s

No. 5 Round Valley

at No. 4 Valley Christian Academy

No. 6 Turlock Christian at No. 3 Ferndale

No. 7 Cornerstone Christian at No. 2 Fall River

Byes: No. 1 Cardinal Newman, No. 2 Scotts Valley, No. 3 Bradshaw Christian.

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