Having learned its lesson from a previous meeting, Del Campo held off Del Oro 58-51 tonight in a Sac-Joaquin Section Division II boys basketball playoff opener in Fair Oaks.
The Cougars played a nonleague game against Del Oro Jan. 4 in which they allowed a 15-point, fourth-quarter lead to melt away in falling 76-70 to the Golden Eagles in overtime.
So when No. 8 seeded Del Campo (20-8) went up 49-34 midway in the fourth quarter, the Cougars did bend but didn't break against a No. 9 seeded Golden Eagles (18-10) bunch steeled by the nightly wars in the ultra-competitive Sierra Foothill League.
Del Oro forced six Del Campo turnovers in the final three minutes, closed to within five points, 53-48, with 1:30 to play and four points, 55-51, with 16.2 seconds.
But the Cougars made enough baskets and plays to get it done and advance to Friday's quarterfinals at top-seeded Sacramento.
"It would have been easy for us to say, 'Here we go again,' but we dug our heels in and persevered," said Del Campo coach Dave Nobis. "I'm proud of my guys."
Junior Modesta Britten, who averaged 8.9 points during the regular season, led Del Campo with 18 points on 9 of 11 shooting, many coming off pick and rolls on passes from Cougar leaders Semir Cahtarevic and Vasilije Saraba.
The fiery Saraba, a junior, finished with 15 points - 13 in the second half - and the 6-7 Cahtarevic had 12 points and eight rebounds.
Keenan Finney led Del Oro with 12 points on five of six shooting from the floor. But the Golden Eagles collectively struggled from the field in shooting 37 percent.
Del Oro fared better at the foul line. The Golden Eagles made 12 of 15, including 9 of 11 in the final quarter.
Up 25-21 at the half, Del Campo took control of the game in the third quarter when it outscored Del Oro 17-8. The Cougars made seven of nine shots in that period, with Britten scoring eight points and Saraba six on two three-pointers.
In other Division II playoff games reported to The Bee:
NO. 1 SACRAMENTO 79, NO. 16 WOOD 46 - Aaron Cameron scored 24 points, including six three-pointers, on nine of 15 shooting and had three steals to lead the Dragons over the visitors from Vacaville. James Hadnot added 13 points and eight rebounds and Joseph Barnes 12 points and seven rebounds.
NO. 15 EL CAMINO 62, NO. 2 ST. MARY'S 61 - Sam Hudson's buzzer-beating layup led the Eagles to one of the biggest upsets of the season in Stockton. El Camino took advantage of 17 St. Mary's turnovers.The win comes afer El Camino hit 10 three-pointers to beat host Roseville in an outbracket game on Friday. Now the Eagles get Rocklin, which edged Roseville twice in overtime this season.
NO. 3 ANTELOPE 60, NO. 14 BENICIA 54 - Isaiah Ellis had 16 points and Rashard Thornhill 12 as the Titans defeated the visiting Panthers.
NO. 4 GRANT 59, NO. 20 CORDOVA 55 - Trailing 39-37 entering the final quarter, the Pacers rallied to win behind De'Sean Parsons 22 points.
NO. 5 COSUMNES OAKS 89, NO. 12 BUHACH COLONY 88 - Alex Van Dyke had 34 points to help the Wolfpack hold off the upset-minded visitors from Atwater.
NO. 6 BURBANK 76, GREGORI 54 - David Straughter had 25 points on 9 of 14 shooting and grabbed nine rebounds and Clifford Lyles added 16 points as the Titans beat the visitors from Modesto.
NO. 7 ROCKLIN 62, NO. 10 LAGUNA CREEK 42 - Devin Moss had 18 points to lead the Thundering Herd to an easy opening playoff win over the Cardinals in Rocklin.
#9 Del Campo at #1 Sacramento
#5 Cosumnes Oaks at #4 Grant
#6 Burbank at #3 Antelope
#18 El Camino at #7 Rocklin