February 21, 2011
A peek into the boys section basketball playoffs: favorites, thoughts, themes

By Joe Davidson

It's playoff time, Sac-Joaquin Section style, and we offer a quickie cheat-sheet to break down the boys playoff fields.

ScheduleDivision I
Outbracket: Tuesday
Lincoln-Stockton at Pleasant Grove; Lodi-Monterey Trail, both 7 p.m.
Other openers: Wednesday, 7 p.m.
Monterey Trail-Lodi winner at No. 1 Sheldon
No. 9 Rodriguez at Golden Valley
No. 12 Oak Ridge at No. 5 McNair
No. 13 Kennedy at No. 4 Granite Bay
No. 14 Grant at No. 3 Jesuit
No. 11 Grace Davis at No. 6 Burbank
No. 10 McClatchy at No. 7 Turlock
Pleasant Grove-Lincoln winner at No. 2 Franklin
Second round: Friday, home sites
Semifinals: March 2, Power Balance Pavilion, TBA
Finals: March 5, Power Balance Pavilion, 8:30 p.m.
Outlook: Rare has this field had such a heavy favorite as Sheldon, perhaps back to the Spider Thomas-coached Kennedy glory days of 1990 and '91 and the Jesuit three-peat run under coach Hank Meyer in 1992, 93, 94.
The Huskies are defending champions, battle tested with a brutal national schedule and an unbeaten local slate, including perfection in the section's toughest league, the Delta River League. Four-year varsity performers Darius Nelson and Ramon Eaton are surrounded by waves of talent and depth, and coach Joey Rollings knows this is an ideal chance to not just reach the section finals but the NorCal finals.
Looming is No. 2 Franklin with coach Jesse Formaker and a terrifically talented lineup. Franklin lost to Sheldon in the finals last season and in a nonleague contest this season. The Wildcats have not lost since, peeling off 13 consecutive wins behind Chuks Iroegbu, Theo Johnson and Anthony King.
Jesuit is the No. 3 seed, and you can already hear the D-I field wondering how the Marauders could go 6-4 in the Delta River League and garner such a high nod while Metro League champion Burbank is seeded sixth. The power rankings formula that seeds this ever heavily factors league strength, and the DRL is clearly the section's top league. What's more, Jesuit lost two three-point games to Sheldon. The Marauders and coach Greg Harcos are led by Parker Uu. Jesuit had the great 1990s run and has D-II titles under Harcos in 2006 and 2007.
A possible second-round tilt could be Pleasant Grove at Franklin or Burbank at Jesuit, if Grant doesn't topple the Marauders in an opener. Throw in No. 4 Granite Bay, battle tested from the Sierra Foothill League, and it's a stacked deck.
If not Sheldon, then: Franklin. Formaker and the lads are primed for a title run with plenty of motivation to topple the one team they haven't solved.
Look out for: Jesuit. The Marauders have size, depth, a terrific rooting section that would go a long way in early rounds, and draws applause at Arco, too. Should Jesuit fall to Burbank, fear the Titans and coach Lindsey Ferrell. Or Granite Bay. See, it's that kind of field.
Predicted final: Sheldon over Franklin

Division II
Openers: Wednesday
No. 16 Los Banos at No. 1 Woodcreek
No. 9 Wood at No. 8 Bethel
No. 12 Vallejo at No. 5 Bella Vista
No. 13 Folsom at No. 4 Antelope
No. 14 Buhach Colony at No. 3 Cordova
No. 11 Del Oro at No. 6 Del Campo
No. 10 Rio Americano at No. 7 St. Mary's
No. 15 Oakmont at No. 2 Fairfield
Second round: Wednesday, home sites, 7 p.m.
Semifinals: March 2, Power Balance Pavilion, TBA
Finals: March 5, Power Balance Pavilion, 4:30 p.m.
Outlook: Paul Hayes is back in the role of head coach for favored Woodcreek, seeded first after winning the title last season under spirited coach Burnel Pinkerton. Hayes led Woodcreek to a section and NorCal title in 2003. This season, he has the scoring of John Peska and overall game of Devin Murphy. And there's some staying power going on in this event from the Sierra Foothill League. Rocklin won D-II titles under coach Steve Taylor in 2008 and 2009 with Woodcreek nipping then-SFL rival Oakmont 45-44 in last year's exhausting final.
Fairfield, a regular to this tournament with three finals appearances since 2007, is seeded second and Cordova, led by classy veteran coach Bob Jones, is third. Bella Vista, a physical team with bruisers K.J. Logue and Terry Jackson, is No. 5.
If not Woodcreek then: Fairfield. The Falcons are again athletic, deep, superbly coached by Eddie Wilson, and a win over Franklin.
Look out for: Cordova. Never underestimate a Bob Jones-coached team.
Predicted final: Woodcreek over Fairfield.

Division III
Openers: Wednesday, 7 p.m.
No. 16 Hogan at No. 1 Sacramento
No. 9 Sierra at No. 8 Lindhurst
No. 12 East Union at No. 5 Cosumnes Oaks
No. 13 Livingston at No. 4 Weston Ranch
No. 14 Sonora at No. 3 El Dorado
No. 11 Ceres at No. 6 Foothill
No. 10 Christian Brothers at No. 7 Yuba City
No. 15 Mesa Verde at No. 2 Center
Second round: Friday, home sites, 7 p.m.
Semifinals: March 2, Cosumnes River College, TBA
Finals: March 4, Power Balance Pavilion, 9 p.m.
Outlook: Sacramento is the favorite here - again - with the goal of winning the program's sixth D-III title under coach Derek Swafford since 2005. The Dragons were heavy favorites entering this season, then the drama hit with the Josiah Turner mess when his family fumed at he not being showcased even more than he already wise, never mind the Bee Player of the Year honor last season and his national profile with a scholarship to Arizona in hand. Turner is now at Quality Education Academy in North Carolina, and he leaves behind a team supremely motivated to win without him. The key could be center Robert Garrett.
Center is the No. 2 seed under coach Ray Gagnon, a championship coach years ago with the Center girls. His team is led by Chad Haysbert, Daniel Smith and Kenneth Parker.
Another intrigue team is No. 5 Cosumnes Oaks with defensive presence Darien Mclaurin. Cosumnes Oaks has wins over Cordova (47-46), Franklin (56-53) and Kennedy (54-52).
If not Sacramento, then: Center. There is size, skill and the drive to beat Sac Hi after losing to the Dragons in the playoffs last season.
Look out for: El Dorado. The Cougars have a terrific regular-season record (20-game winning streak) and leadership under coach Ken Macklin, but the overall strength of question comes into play now, given the experience of Sacramento and Center.
Predicted final: Sacramento over Center

Division IV
Outbracket: Bret Harte vs. Delta Charter
Other openers: Wednesday, 7 p.m.
Bret Harte/Delta Charter winner at No. 1 Modesto Christian
No. 9 Riverbank at No. 8 Calaveras
No. 12 Central Catholic at No. 5 Highlands
No. 13 Escalon at No. 4 Amador
No. 14 Encina at No. 3 Colfax
No. 11 Mariposa at No. 6 Ripon
No. 10 Denair at No. 7 Capital Christian
No. 15 LeGrand at No. 2 Summerville
Second round: Friday, home sites, 7 p.m.
Semifinals: March 2, Tokay High, TBA
Finals: March 5, Power Balance Pavilion, 3 p.m.
Outlook: Same story here with Modesto Christian a heavy favorite to win the program's fourth consecutive banner at this level and 14th overall under coach Gary Porter. Summerville is No. 2 and Colfax is No. 3. The Falcons have a go-to scorer in Chase Mosier, who has won games at the buzzer this season.
If not Modesto Christian then: Colfax. The Falcons have won this event before, twice in recent years.
Look out for: Capital Christian. Cougars have a nice player in Brian Simmons and a superb coach in Phil Oates, and no pressure to win this event.
Predicted final: Modesto Christian over Colfax

Division V
No. 16 Tioga at No. 1 Ripon Christian
No. 9 Auburn Christian at No. 8 Faith Christian
No. 12 Brookside Christian at No. 5 Victory Christian
No. 13 Forest Lake Christian at Vacaville Christian
No. 14 Sierra Ridge at No. 3 Valley Christian
No. 11 Delta at No. 6 Global Youth
No. 10 Sacramento Adventist at No. 7 Sacramento Waldorf
No. 15 New Life Christian at No. 2 Bradshaw Christian
Second round: Friday, home sites, 7 p.m.
Semifinals: March 1, Galt High School, TBA
Finals: March 4, Power Balance Pavilion, 5:30 p.m.
Outlook: This collection has small-school enrollment, but the effort and desire is every bit as large as those of higher levels. Ripon Christian is the top seed but the last three champions came from the north in Forest Lake Christian, Bradshaw Christian and last season Victory Christian.
The dark horse teams are led by prolific scorers with No. 6 Global Youth led by Darrell Polee (31.3 points per game) and No. 7 Sacramento Waldorf by Christopher Schwartz-Edmisten (30.3).
If not Ripon Christian, then: Bradshaw, with a legacy of winning under coach Mike Ruble and the ultimate three-sport star/leader in Brady Dragmire.
Look out for: Sac Waldorf. Coach Dean Stark is as good as there is anywhere in the state, and now is the time for Schwartz-Edmisten to really light it up.
Predicted final: Bradshaw over Ripon Christian

About the Prep blog

Bee staff writers Joe Davidson and Bill Paterson provide news, analysis and insight on the area high school sports scene in their Prep Blog. Have a question to ask them? Send them an email any time at jdavidson@sacbee.com or bpaterson@sacbee.com.

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