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.
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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.
Sac-Joaquin Section basketball playoffs
No. 17 Edison at No. 16 Modesto
No. 18 Franklin-Stockton at Franklin
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
No. 17 Golden Valley at No. 16 Ceres
No. 18 Central Valley at No. 15 Rodriguez
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
No. 17 Rosemont at No. 16 El Capitan
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
No. 17 Delhi at No. 16 Mountain House
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
No. 9 Vacaville Christian at No. 8 Western Sierra
No. 10 Delta Charter at No. 7 Bradshaw Christian
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
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.
No. 17 Chavez at No. 16 Enochs
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
No. 17 Central Valley at No. 16 Atwater
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
No. 17 Rosemont at No. 16 Rio Americano
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
No. 17 Ripon at No. 16 Orestimba
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
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
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