Joe Davidson

‘Get back to work and win games’: Four area schools placed in Open Division field

Dale Currie and Sheldon lost to Modesto Christian in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I title game Saturday in Stockton. The Huskies are the No. 4 seed in the NorCal Open Division and will host No. 5 San Joaquin Memorial of Fresno on Friday.
Dale Currie and Sheldon lost to Modesto Christian in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I title game Saturday in Stockton. The Huskies are the No. 4 seed in the NorCal Open Division and will host No. 5 San Joaquin Memorial of Fresno on Friday. Special to The Bee

As if the first four rounds of the recently completed high school basketball playoffs wasn’t a travel-heavy grind, here comes the next round with a much greater radius.

The CIF Northern California Regional tournament brackets were released Sunday afternoon, spanning seven divisions for the boys and girls, with some games as far south as Fresno and others so close to the Oregon border you can see it.

The brackets are headed by the elite Open Division that was created in 2013 for powerhouse programs. The concept was introduced to allow public schools a better fighting chance to earn NorCal and state hardware, as the private programs had for decades overwhelmingly dominated those winnings.

Then something interesting happened, particularly for the boys regionals. The public school teams got really good, state-ranked good, and so it was no surprise Sunday that three Sacramento-area programs again landed in the eight-team boys Open Division field that tips off Friday. The area’s top-ranked girls team, Folsom, is in the girls Open.

Bee No. 1 Sheldon, still stinging from a down-to-the-wire loss to Modesto Christian in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I final Saturday in Stockton, earned a four seed and will host No. 5 San Joaquin Memorial of Fresno.

“Our attitude will be like a lot of other teams,” Sheldon guard Dale Currie said of approaching the NorCal tournament. “Get back to the gym, get back to work and win games.”

Sheldon lost at Pacific to Modesto Christian, which is the No. 3 Open seed and will host No. 6 Bellarmine, which wasn’t happy with such a low seed after winning the Central Coast Section’s Open title for the first time. This is also the season where coaches – boys and girls – grumble about seeds. Everyone wants to take on a low seed and no one wants to travel.

No. 7 Capital Christian, however, likes its chances and is ready to fire up the team buses. A section semifinal victim to Modesto Christian, the Cougars play at No. 2 Bishop O’Dowd, coming off its 18th North Coast Section championship.

And Folsom, an overtime victim to Sheldon in the section semifinals, drew the dreaded No. 8 seed, thus a date at CalHi Sports state No. 1 Salesian of Richmond, winners of 22 consecutive games. But here’s a twist: Salesian’s lone loss was 69-63 to Gorman of Las Vegas, which went on to win its seventh successive state championship. Gorman lost to Folsom 68-61 in a December tournament.

Also Friday, the Folsom girls, seeded fourth in the Open, will host Salesian, seeded fifth. Folsom is enjoying its greatest season, though still smarting from a blowout loss to national power and Open No. 2-seed St. Mary’s of Stockton in the section D-I final.

The creation of the state Open Division in 2013 meant there would be holes in the other 16-team brackets as schools were pulled up in classification. This translates to new life for other teams, some that lost long ago in the sectional rounds, including the second round.

Too many teams in the playoffs? The CIF member schools voted for expansion, and administrators, athletes and fans also pushed and urged deeper brackets. They got it.

What is also a continuing trend, albeit on the absurd side, is how many NorCal teams decline to input statistics on MaxPreps, a site created for the schools to promote programs. A good many stopped this practice in the last year to hide tendencies, and several that continued to input data this season rushed to remove it as the brackets were released, leaving scores of NorCal coaches to scramble for morsels of information.

The boys D-I field includes section quarterfinal losers Jesuit (lost to Modesto Christian) and Franklin (fell to Capital Christian) as No. 14 and No. 15 seeds, respectively. Without the Open, the D-I bracket would have included at least six of the Open teams.

In girls D-I, section second-round victims Oak Ridge and McClatchy have another shot as the No. 15 and No. 14 seeds, respectively.

The oddity of the new “competitive-equity” formula for the NorCal fields includes Woodcreek. The Timberwolves boys a year ago won the NorCal Open Division title, then lost 6-foot-11, five-star recruit Jordan Brown to Prolific Prep, fell to Sheldon in a second-round D-I playoff game and now winds up in the NorCal D-II bracket as the No. 11 seed.

The D-II field also includes No. 16 Oak Ridge, which lost a section quarterfinal to Folsom. No. 5 Grant, No. 8 Antelope and No. 14 Whitney are also in that bracket. West Campus is the No. 2 seed in D-IV.

Without the girls Open, Open No. 1 seed Mitty of San Jose – the top-ranked team in the country – St. Mary’s and Folsom would have been D-I entries.

In girls D-II, Sacramento is a No. 16 seed after falling to Del Oro in a second-round section game, and Granite Bay, a blowout loser at Bear Creek of Stockton in a section second-round game, is the No. 15 seed. There will be road trips, as Sacramento heads to Chico to face Pleasant Valley and Granite Bay is off to No. 2 Eureka.

The competitive equity model impacts the Antelope and West Campus girls. Antelope won the section D-II title but was pulled up to D-I for regionals.

West Campus, defending CIF NorCal and state D-IV champions coming off a D-IV section title win Friday were moved up to D-III as a No. 5 seed.

“We’ll play anyone, and we’ll be ready,” West Campus coach John Langston said.

D-III section champion Christian Brothers is the No. 3 seed in D-III.

CIF Northern California Regional playoffs


Open Division

Friday openers, 7 p.m.

No. 8 Folsom vs. No. 1 Salesian at Albany High

No. 5 San Joaquin Memorial at No. 4 Sheldon

No. 6 Bellarmine at No. 3 Modesto Christian

No. 7 Capital Christian at No. 2 Bishop O’Dowd

Division I

Wednesday openers, 7 p.m.

No. 16 Bullard at No. 1 Heritage

No. 9 De La Salle at No. 8 Palo Alto

No. 12 Central at No. 5 Saint Francis

No. 14 Jesuit at No. 3 Mitty

No. 11 St. Ignatius at No. 6 Berkeley

No. 10 Serra at No. 7 Dublin

No. 15 Franklin-Elk Grove at No. 2 Las Lomas

Division II

Wednesday openers, 7 p.m.

No. 16 Oak Ridge at No. 1 Alameda

No. 9 Los Gatos at No. 8 Antelope

No. 12 Acalanes at No. 5 Grant

No. 13 Riordan at No. 4 St. Patrick/St. Vincent

No. 14 Whitney at No. 3 Campolindo

No. 11 Woodcreek at No. 6 St. Joseph-Notre Dame

No. 10 Moreau Catholic at No. 7 Sequoia

No. 15 Sunnyside at No. 2 St. Mary’s-Stockton

Division III

Wednesday openers, 7 p.m.

No. 16 Vanden at No. 1 Branson

No. 9 Oakland Tech at No. 8 Valley Christian

No. 12 Rio Americano at No. 5 Half Moon Bay

No. 13 Monterey at No. 4 Central Catholic

No. 14 Patterson at No. 3 University

No. 11 Foothill-Pleasanton at No. 6 Mission

No. 10 Beyer at No. 7 Sanger

No. 15 Drake and No. 2 Pleasant Valley

Division IV

Wednesday openers, 7 p.m.

No. 16 Weston Ranch at No. 1 Santa Cruz

No. 9 Stuart Hall at No. 8 Foothill-Sacramento

No. 12 Liberty Ranch at No. 5 Albany

No. 13 Corning at No. 4 Placer

No. 14 Dixon at No. 3 Saint Mary’s

No. 11 Sonora at No. 6 Lick-Wilmerding

No. 10 Woodside Priory at No. 7 Calaveras

No. 15 Lowell at No. 2 West Campus

Division V

Wednesday openers, 7 p.m.

No. 16 Durham at No. 1 Argonaut

No. 9 Hayward at No. 8 Pinewood

No. 12 Envision Academy at No. 5 University Prep

No. 13 Mt. Shasta at No. 4 Urban

No. 14 Colusa at No. 3 Colfax

No. 11 Summerville at No. 6 Lassen

No. 10 Bradshaw Christian at No. 7 Redwood Christian

No. 15 Brookside Christian at No. 2 Gridley

Division VI

Wednesday openers, 7 p.m.

No. 8 San Francisco Waldorf at No. 1 Ripon Christian

No. 5 Cornerstone Christian at No. 4 Fall River

No. 6 Sacramento Adventist at No. 3 Laytonville

No. 7 Jewish Community at No. 2 Redding Christian


Open Division

Friday openers, 7 p.m.

No. 8 Bishop O’Dowd at No. 1 Mitty

No. 5 Salesian at No. 4 Folsom

No. 6 Carondelet at No. 3 Pinewood

No. 7 Cardinal Newman at No. 2 St. Mary’s

Division I

Wednesday openers, 7 p.m.

No. 16 Logan at No. 1 Presentation

No. 9 Cosumnes Oaks at No. 8 Castro Valley

No. 12 St. Ignatius at No. 5 Antelope

No. 13 Edison at No. 4 Miramonte

No. 14 McClatchy at No. 3 St. Joseph-Notre Dame

No. 11 Saint Francis-Mountain View at No. 6 Bear Creek

No. 10 Sacred Heart Cathedral at No. 7 Heritage

No. 15 Oak Ridge at No. 2 Eastside College Prep

Division II

Wednesday openers, 7 p.m.

No. 16 Sacramento at No. 1 Pleasant Valley

No. 9 Newark Memorial at No. 8 Silver Creek

No. 12 Redwood at No. 5 Whitney

No. 13 Menlo School at No. 4 San Ramon Valley

No. 14 Arcata at No. 3 Valley Christian

No. 11 Menlo-Atherton at No. 6 Montgomery

No. 10 Del Oro at No. 7 South San Francisco

No. 15 Granite Bay at No. 2 Eureka

Division III

Wednesday openers, 7 p.m.

No. 16 Oakland at No. 1 Enterprise

No. 9 Campolindo at No. 8 Sacred Heart Prep

No. 12 Yosemite at No. 5 West Campus

No. 13 River Valley at No. 4 Piedmont

No. 14 Urban at No. 3 Christian Brothers

No. 11 Foothill at No. 6 Dublin

No. 10 Lathrop at No. 7 Clovis

No. 15 Marin Catholic at No. 2 Aptos

Division IV

Wednesday openers, 7 p.m.

No. 16 Moreau Catholic at No. 1 Woodside Priority

No. 9 Kimball at No. 8 St. Bernard’s

No. 12 Oroville at No. 5 Colfax

No. 13 Lincoln-San Francisco at No. 4 Memorial

No. 14 West Valley at No. 3 Union Mine

No. 11 Bradshaw Christian at No. 6 Oakland Tech

No. 10 Placer at No. 7 Willows

No. 15 Alhambra at No. 2 Notre Dame

Division V

Wednesday openers, 7 p.m.

No. 16 Western Sierra at No. 1 University

No. 9 Chowchilla at No. 8 Mariposa

No. 12 Cloverdale at No. 5 Lassen

No. 13 KIPP King at No. 4 Lowell

No. 14 Castilleja at No. 3 Argonaut

No. 11 Summerville at No. 6 Durham

No. 10 Modoc at No. 7 Capital Christian

No. 14 Golden Sierra at No. 2 Clear Lake

Division VI

Wednesday openers, 7 p.m.

No. 8 Emery at No. 1 Fall River

No. 5 Forest Lake Christian at No. 4 Rincon Valley Christian

No. 6 Laytonville at No. 3 Ripon Christian

No. 7 California School for the Deaf at No. 2 Redding Christian