Five local teams learn playoff futures
The California state playoff pairings were revealed Sunday afternoon, and when the dust cleared five area teams saw their names included in the brackets. Both Nevada Union’s boys and girls teams and Forest Lake Christian’s boys and girls teams made the playoffs, with the Bear River girls team also qualifying.
While all five teams were happy to have made the playoffs, some lingering doubts about the power rankings system and seed assignments once again surfaced.
Both Nevada Union basketball teams ended the season as Metro Conference Co-Champions, but found themselves with lower seeds than the teams with which they shared their titles, in large part because of their preseason play. The girls team was 7-7 going into league play and the boys team was 4-10 going into league play.
The Nevada Union girls team (17-10, 10-2) is ranked No. 10 and will play Thursday night at No. 7 Napa whereas Yuba City received a No. 6 seed and a home game. There’s a much bigger contrast with the Nevada Union’s boys team’s situation as the Miners (14-13, 9-3) drew a No. 16 seed and have to travel to top-ranked Tokay (Lodi) Friday night. Kennedy, on the other hand, found itself with a No. 8 seed and a home game.
Missing from their preseason were numerous athletes still playing volleyball or football who did not join their teams until mid-December and are now part of their respective team’s starting lineup.
“Our preseason really hurt us,” Nevada Union girls basketball coach Duwaine Ganskie said. “Our seed and the boy’s seed is a great example of the importance the preseason can have on the playoffs.”
Napa, hailing from the Monticello Empire League, is 23-4 overall, 13-2 in league play and is on a 13-game win streak. Junior post player Katie Kelig leads her team in almost every major statistical category, totaling 10.5 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.8 steals and 2.7 assists per game.
Playing in the San Joaquin Athletic Association, Tokay has compiled a 13-1 league record and a 22-5 overall record. Junior point guard Mike Caffese, Julius Thomas, Jordan Sanchez and Jordan Lawley look to pose a significant challenge to the Miners as they all play a significant role in Tokay’s success this season.
“We know that they are the cream of the crop and at some point we would have to play them, but we were hoping it was later instead of sooner,” Nevada Union basketball coach Jeff Dellis said. “We think we are better than a 16 seed, but the committee that decided the seeds is also the same committee that gave our conference a 6.4 in the power rankings. We are going to try to represent Nevada County and the Metro league to the best of our ability.”
The Bruins’ (22-4, 12-0) beef does lie not so much with how the preseason affected its ranking, but more so how the weak Pioneer Valley League’s ranking was. However, Bear River coach Jeff Bickmore is generally happy with his team’s No. 6 seed and home game Tuesday night against Dixon.
“I’m not worried about who’s ahead of us numbers wise or our seed,” Bickmore said. “We will have to play all of the teams eventually if we want to continue to move on. Between No. 3 Del Oro and No. 5 Placer, we’re all right there anyway so it doesn’t bother me. I like our chances right now.”
Dixon hails from the Capital Valley Conference and is 17-10 overall and 7-5 in league play. Senior guard Ashley Kitchen leads her team with 17.6 points and 8 rebounds per game.
The Forest Lake Christian girls team (22-5, 14-0) is ranked No. 2 in the section despite beating No. 1-ranked Capital Christian 75-50 Feb. 12 in the Bentley Shoot-out. The Falcons take on Valley Christian at home Tuesday night.
Valley Christian, a Sacramento Valley League team from Roseville, is led by Julia Hart and Jennifer Hudson who are averaging 9.3 and 9.4 points per game, respectively.
The Forest Lake Christian boys team (13-12, 9-5) drew a No. 15 seed, playing Wednesday night at Turlock Christian. Turlock Christian is currently riding an 18-game win-streak and is 26-2 this season. Senior post players, Garett Elliott (6 foot, 6 inches), and Bryce Spycher (6’8″) will be tough for the Falcons to handle on the inside.
The Forest Lake Christian coaches were unavailable for comment.
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Hank Sowell’s introduction to the game of golf came early as a set of clubs was among the gifts he received on his very first birthday.