Joe Davidson

Sac-Joaquin Section basketball playoffs to begin ‘real season’

Guard Elishja Duplechan, right, is a reason Sheldon is favored to win a stacked Delta League. ... Duplechan is guarded by Folsom’s Alec Andrews during the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I Championship at Sleep Train Arena, Saturday, March 7, 2015, in Sacramento.
Guard Elishja Duplechan, right, is a reason Sheldon is favored to win a stacked Delta League. ... Duplechan is guarded by Folsom’s Alec Andrews during the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I Championship at Sleep Train Arena, Saturday, March 7, 2015, in Sacramento. Sacramento

The four-month regular season now gives way to the second season.

Or, as coaches and athletes like to say, “the real season.”

The Sac-Joaquin Section on Thursday afternoon released its high school basketball playoff schedule with out-bracket games to be played Friday night and the rest of the field starting Tuesday night for the girls and Wednesday for the boys.

The section finals will be held March 4-5 at Pacific in Stockton, leading to the Northern California regional tournament and the CIF State finals at Golden 1 Center on March 24-25.

A crew of seven retired section athletic directors and current section staff crunched the numbers – records, head-to-head matchups, etc. – to complete the brackets for six boys and six girls divisions, spanning small schools to the largest divisions.

The Bee’s top-ranked boys teams were seeded first and second in Division I, with unbeaten Delta League champion Sheldon earning the nod over unbeaten Sierra Foothill League titlist Woodcreek. Both schools have 25-2 records and are unbeaten in section play this season, standing as overwhelming favorites to meet in the final.

Sheldon seeks its fifth section title this decade. The Huskies are especially strong in the backcourt with twins Elishja and Isaiah Duplechan, and Drew Cobb, a senior who is perhaps the section’s top on-ball defender. Franklin coach Ken Manfredi, a longtime area coach, deemed this Sheldon team to be the best in program history. Sheldon coach Joey Rollings said the Huskies have the potential to “be great.”

Woodcreek also has the potential to be special. Timberwolves coach Paul Hayes said he’s never had a team this talented or united, a group anchored by 6-foot-11 national recruit Jordan Brown. The junior is averaging 26.3 points and 15.8 rebounds. Guards Chris Cagle, Jackson Hughes and Tyrell Roberts also have played well.

No. 6 Folsom has won four section titles, three in D-I, since 2008 under coach Mike Wall. The Bulldogs, led by center Mason Forbes, open against No. 11 Jesuit, an 11-time section champion dating to the late 1980s.

Modesto Christian, seeded seventh, beat Folsom last year to win the D-I title and has a record 18 championship spanning all divisions. The Crusaders are 65-1 in section play over the past 17 seasons.

The D-I field also includes a perennial playoff power, No. 13 Sacramento, which is in the postseason for the 16th consecutive year after moving up from Division II and competing in the prestigious NorCal Open Division last season. The Dragons, led this season by guard Sayvon Hines, won the D-II title last season, beating Whitney, which earned the top seed in D-II this season ahead of No. 2 Burbank. The D-II field also includes No. 3 Rio Linda, No. 4 Grant and No. 5 Inderkum, which has a triple-overtime win over Burbank.

“I think it’ll be wide open,” Whitney coach Nick French said.

Vanden and Capital Christian are seeded first and second, respectively, in D-III with plenty of darkhorses, including No. 5 Placer, No. 6 Rio Americano, No. 7 Center and No. 8 Christian Brothers.

In girls D-I, longtime national power St. Mary’s of Stockton is the top seed.

The Rams, besieged by injuries this season, seek their fifth consecutive D-I title and ninth in a row in various divisions. They have a 36-game section-playoff winning streak and are 71-2 against section teams since 1999.

No. 2 McClatchy won the CIF State D-I title two years ago, lost to Oak Ridge in the section playoffs last season and enters this tournament top-ranked by The Bee. The Lions beat previous No. 1-ranked Sacramento 65-52 on Wednesday night to create a tie for the Metropolitan Conference championship. The Lions have been sparked by Jordan Cruz’s return after she missed most of the season with a knee strain. She’s a shooter who played a big role in the Lions’ 2015 state title run.

No. 3 Oak Ridge, which split with No. 5 Folsom in SFL play, is the playoffs for the 25th consecutive season under coach Steve White. Folsom is paced by Cal-bound guard McKenzie Forbes, a junior.

No. 6 seed St. Francis, led by Janae Fairbrook, won the NorCal D-I title last season and is in the postseason for the 14th consecutive season under coach Vic Pitton, The Bee’s Coach of the Year in 2015-16.

Vanden is seeded first in D-II after rolling to the title last season. Modesto Christian is second and Sacramento third.

The Dragons have won five section titles, including in D-II in 2013 and 2014. Elk Grove, seeded fourth, beat Sacramento at the buzzer in the NorCal final last season. The Thundering Herd is led by 2015-16 Bee Player of the Year Mira Shulman, a senior guard.

Defending D-III champion Rio Linda earned the top seed. The Knights are led by coach Jerry Huffhines and his daughter, Brandy, a playmaking guard. Vista del Lago is seeded second.

West Campus, the top seed in D-IV, seeks its first championship after reaching the section final in 2012, 2014 and 2016.

Argonaut is seeded first in D-V and Capital Christian second. Roseville’s Valley Christian, seeking its third title in four seasons, is seeded first in D-VI.

Joe Davidson: 916-321-1280, @SacBee_JoeD

Sac-Joaquin Section basketball playoffs

BOYS

Division I

Friday out-bracket

No. 17 Edison at No. 16 Modesto

No. 18 Franklin-Stockton at Franklin

Wednesday openers

No. 1 Sheldon vs. Modesto-Edison winner

No. 9 Ponderosa at No. 8 Granite Bay

No. 12 Wood at No. 5 West

No. 13 Sacramento at No. 4 Lincoln-Stockton

No. 14 Stagg at No. 3 St. Mary’s

No. 11 Jesuit at No. 6 Folsom

No. 10 Cosumnes Oaks at No. 7 Modesto Christian

No. 2 Woodcreek vs. Franklin-Franklin winner

Division II

Friday out-bracket

No. 17 Golden Valley at No. 16 Ceres

No. 18 Central Valley at No. 15 Rodriguez

Wednesday openers

No. 1 Whitney vs. Ceres-Golden Valley winner

No. 9 Rocklin at No. 8 Merced

No. 12 Del Oro at No. 5 Inderkum

No. 13 River Valley at No. 4 Grant

No. 14 Vacaville at No. 3 Rio Linda

No. 11 Patterson at No. 6 Beyer

No. 10 Yuba City at No. 7 Roseville

No. 2 Burbank vs. Rodriguez-Central Valley

Division III

Friday out-bracket

No. 17 Rosemont at No. 16 El Capitan

Wednesday openers

No. 1 Vanden vs. El Capitan-Rosemont winner

No. 9 Weston Ranch at No. 8 Christian Brothers

No. 12 American Canyon at No. 5 Placer

No. 13 Fairfield at No. 4 Vista del Lago

No. 14 Johnson at No. 3 Manteca

No. 11 Lathrop at No. 6 Rio Americano

No. 10 Benicia at No. 7 Center

No. 15 Cordova at No. 2 Capital Christian

Division IV

Friday out-bracket

No. 17 Delhi at No. 16 Mountain House

Wednesday openers

No. 1 Central Catholic vs. Delhi-Mountain House winner

No. 9 Hilmar at No. 8 Dixon

No. 12 Mesa Verde at No. 5 Sonora

No. 13 Marysville at No. 4 Ripon

No. 14 Highlands at No. 3 Calaveras

No. 11 Lindhurst at No. 6 Liberty Ranch

No. 10 Orestimba at No. 7 Foothill

No. 15 San Juan at No. 2 West Campus

Division V

Wednesday openers

No. 9 Vacaville Christian at No. 8 Western Sierra

No. 10 Delta Charter at No. 7 Bradshaw Christian

Friday openers

No. 1 Elliott Christian vs. Western Sierra-Vacaville Christian winner

No. 5 Hughes Academy at No. 4 Ripon Christian

No. 6 Mariposa at No. 3 Argonaut

No. 2 Brookside Christian vs. No. 7 Bradshaw Christian-Delta Charter

Division VI

Friday openers

No. 9 Turlock Christian at No. 8 Freedom Christian

No. 12 Foresthill at No. 5 Faith Christian

No. 11 Big Valley Christian at No. 6 Stockton Chrsitian

No. 10 Lutheran at No. 7 Forest Lake Christian

Byes: No. 1 Sacramento Waldorf, No. 2 Sacramento Adventist, No. 3

Sacramento Country Day, No. 4 Valley Christian.

GIRLS

Division I

Friday out-bracket

No. 17 Chavez at No. 16 Enochs

Tuesday openers

No. 1 St. Mary’s vs. Chavez-Enochs winner

No. 9 Turlock at No. 8 Davis

No. 12 Franklin at No. 5 Folsom

No. 13 Pitman at No. 4 Lincoln

No. 14 Kennedy at No. 3 Oak Ridge

No. 11 Cosumnes Oaks at No. 6 St. Francis

No. 10 Edison at No. 7 Brookside Christian

No. 15 Rodriguez at No. 2 McClatchy

Division II

Friday out-bracket

No. 17 Central Valley at No. 16 Atwater

Tuesday openers

No. 1 Vanden vs. Central Valley-Atwater winner

No. 9 Granite Bay at No. 8 Bear Creek

No. 12 Lodi at No. 5 Roseville

No. 13 Wood at No. 4 Elk Grove

No. 14 Nevada Union at No. 3 Sacramento

No. 11 River City at No. 6 Antelope

No. 10 Whitney at No. 7 Del Oro

No. 15 Napa at No. 2 Modesto Christian

Division III

Friday outbracket

No. 17 Rosemont at No. 16 Rio Americano

Tuesday openers

No. 1 Rio Linda vs. Rosemont-Rio Americano winner

No. 9 Christian Brothers vs. No. 8 Bethel

No. 12 Beyer at No. 5 Kimball

No. 13 Los Banos at No. 4 Manteca

No. 14 El Camino at No. 3 Patterson

No. 11 East Union at No. 6 Bradshaw Christian

No. 10 River Valley at No. 7 Placer

No. 15 Benicia at No. 2 Vista del Lago

Division IV

Friday out-bracket:

No. 17 Ripon at No. 16 Orestimba

Tuesday openers

No. 1 West Campus vs. Ripon-Orestimba winner

No. 9 Colfax at No. 8 Central Catholic

No. 12 Highlands at No. 5 Union Mine

No. 13 Dixon at No. 4 Sonora

No. 14 El Dorado at No. 4 Sonora

No. 14 El Dorado at No. 3 Foothill

No. 11 Mountain House at No. 6 Lathrop

No. 10 Venture Academy at No. 7 Bear River

No. 15 Hilmar at No. 2 Calaveras

Division V

Tuesday openers

No. 9 Hughes Academy at No. 8 Western Sierra

No. 12 Greene Academy at No. 5 Vacaville Christian

No. 11 LeGrand at No. 6 Ripon Christian

No. 10 Buckingham Charter at No. 7 Holt Academy

Division VI

Tuesday openers

No. 8 Sacramento Waldorf at No. 1 Valley Christian

No. 5 Forest Lake Christian at No. 4 Sacramento Country Day

No. 6 Big Valley Christian at No. 3 Freedom Christian

No. 7 Stockton Christian at No. 2 Victory Christian

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