Home sweet home for area hoops
Area basketball fans are sure to get at least one last look at four western Nevada County teams taking to their home floor this week, as the Sac-Joaquin Section released its playoff brackets Sunday.
All four area squads that qualified for the postseason will tip off the action in front of their home crowds, including Bear River’s boys team in Division IV.
The Bruins (18-8) enter as the fifth seed, which earned them a home date with Christian Brothers (15-11) at McCrory Gymnasium when the D-IV bracket begins at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
“I’m a little disappointed we didn’t get the fourth seed,” Bear River co-head coach Duwaine Ganskie said. “But this probably is more realistic, because San Juan beat us twice and Encina beat San Juan twice.”
Because Encina claimed the Golden Empire League championship and took both matchups with San Juan (23-4), the section determined Encina (19-7) should move into the third slot ahead of San Juan, which moved Bear River out as fourth seed and into the fifth position.
The way that worked out means Bear River, with a victory on Wednesday, could very well face San Juan for a third time this season. A win there could also earn the Bruins a third shot at Pioneer Valley League champion Colfax (24-2) in the semifinal round.
Ganskie, however, spent his Sunday evening trying to track down information on Christian Brothers.
“I’ve talked to some coaches about them a little bit,” Ganskie said. “I’m waiting to hear from (former Bear River assistant and current Galt head coach) Steve Box and hope to get a tape. They’re in the same league as Galt and they beat Galt three times.
“In the second and third rounds, if we get that far, we’d likely face teams (San Juan and Colfax) we’re already familiar with. We haven’t beat either one of them, but we are at least familiar with them.”
Forest Lake Christian
Dave Thomas and his Forest Lake Falcons (18-9) won’t necessarily need a scouting report on their first round opponent, Sacramento Adventist (10-11). The Falcons scrimmaged with the Capitals in preseason play.
“At that time we handled them quite easily,” said FLC coach Dave Thomas. “We certainly feel confident, but at the same time you have to show up.”
A win on Wednesday would likely give the Falcons a rematch with Faith Christian (17-8) in Friday’s second-round action. FLC downed Faith 79-60 on Dec. 8.
The top seed in Division V went to Sierra Christian (16-3), while Brookside Christian (18-3) is seeded second and Big Valley Christian (22-5) third.
“I think Brookside is really stronger than Sierra Christian. And Big Valley should probably be the No. 2 seed,” Thomas said. “But I can’t complain about the bracket at all.”
Forest Lake Christian
On the girls side, Forest Lake Christian will enter Tuesday’s opening-round action as the fifth seed in Division V. The Lady Falcons (16-9) will host 12th-seeded Valley Christian (13-12) at 7 p.m.
“I saw (Valley Christian) play against Victory Christian at the beginning of the season,” said FLC coach Ken Holt. “One thing about being the fifth seed is that, on paper at least, we should win.
“But you still have to go out and take care of business.”
A win on Tuesday would move the Falcons into the second round against the winner of the fourth-seed Mountain Oaks (22-3) and Big Valley Christian (11-11).
Bradshaw Christian (23-3) enters the Division V tournament as the top seed. Wilton Christian (19-3) is the second seed, while Freedom Christian (16-1) holds the No. 3 seeding.
Though the official Division I girls bracket won’t officially start until Thursday, two D-I teams will vie for the 16th and final spot in the tournament on Tuesday. Grace Davis (15-11) and Golden Valley (15-13) will battle for the right to face No. 1 seed Kennedy (21-6) in Thursday’s first-round play.
Eighth-seed Nevada Union (18-8) tips off Thursday inside the friendly confines of Ali Gymnasium against the Tracy Bulldogs (18-9).
“I’ve never seen them play,” said NU coach John McDaniel “That’s one of the things about the section games. I’ve looked on the Internet to scope them out a bit, but I don’t know much about Tracy.
“In an eight-nine (seeded) game, you don’t really know who is supposed to come out with the win. But I definitely think being at Nevada Union will have the girls comfortable. The other team has to travel and nobody likes to travel. So it’s always an advantage to be at home.”
A first-round victory would put the Miners, and their second-round foe, on the road at the neutral site of Cosumnes River College on Saturday. NU would then likely face top-seeded Kennedy.
“We’ve been doing two things well lately,” McDaniel said. “We’re scoring well and we’re playing defense well, so that usually bodes well.”
First and second round games are slated to tip off at 7 p.m. at all tournament sites.
To contact Sports Editor Brian Hamilton, e-mail email@example.com or call 477-4240.
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