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Ratings revealed: Postseason picture comes into focus for area hoops teams

Though they probably had a pretty good idea of where they stood, the playoff picture for Sac-Joaquin Section basketball teams has now come into full focus for area coaches and players.

As of Monday, five of six western Nevada County ballclubs ranked among the top 16 in their respective divisions in the section’s power ratings, which means they would qualify for the postseason if the regular-season had come to a close last Friday.

But it didn’t.



Instead, all six area squads still have five games remaining on the slate, which means each team still has a shot at the second season.

Some just have more work to do than others.




Bear River’s Lady Bruins (16-5 overall, 5-2 in the Pioneer Valley League) are the highest-rated among area teams. The Lady Bruins are rated third in Division IV.

Forest Lake Christian’s Lady Falcons (12-7, 4-3 in the Central Valley Christian League) are rated eighth in Division V, which would earn FLC a home game in the first round of the Lady Falcons can maintain a spot among the top eight.

FLC’s boys team has made back-to-back appearances at Arco Arena in the Division V section title game, including the Falcons’ 2008 section championship. But to make a third trip to Arco, the Falcons might need to become a bunch of road warriors. As it stands now, Forest Lake’s varsity boys (9-9, 3-4 CVCL) are rated 12th.

In Division I, Nevada Union’s boys and girls teams are both sitting just above the bubble. The Lady Miners (11-10, 4-3 in the Sierra Foothill League) were rated 15th in Division I, while the Miners are rated 16th.

Playing in what the section considers to be the toughest league – in both boys and girls competition – comes as a bit of a double-edged sword. Although the SFL, which carries the highest league rating possible (8.0), includes some of the section’s best ballclubs, it also offers high rewards for winning league games.

If the Miners are able to win more than they lose -in boys or girls – the rest of the way, chances are their bubble won’t burst when it comes to qualifying for the postseason.

The only team currently on the outside looking in is Bear River’s boys, who are rated 19th in Division IV. After winning six of their first seven games and finishing the nonleague slate with an 8-4 mark, the Bruins have found life tough in the PVL. An 0-3 start dug an early hole for Bear River, which has gone 2-2 in its past four games.

If they plan to join the Lady Bruins in the postseason, the Bruins will need a strong finish in their final five games.

After posting an 11-2 start to the season in nonleague games, Bear River’s Lady Bruins stumbled in their league-opening 49-30 loss to Colfax.

But since that defeat, Bear River has bounced back by winning five of seven games, including a 5-1 run through the PVL. The only league loss came to defending champion – and Division III’s No. 5 seed – El Dorado (18-1) by a 51-45 count.

And on Friday night, Jeff Bickmore’s Lady Bruins avenged the loss to rival Colfax to start the second half of the PVL schedule. Now Bickmore and his Lady Bruins hope to keep the ball rolling.

“If you had told me at the beginning of the year that we’d be looking at possible three seed, I would have been happy. I would have been surprised,” Bickmore said. “But we’ve found ways to win a lot of close games.”

Bickmore said it also doesn’t hurt to be playing in one of the highest-rated leagues among Division IV level competition. The PVL carries a 6.0 rating, compared to the 4.8-rated Mother Lode League, in which top-seed Argonaut (19-0) plays, or the 4.4-rated Trans Valley League, in which No. 2 Modesto Christian (14-2) competes.

“What matters is what your league power rating is,” Bickmore said. “There’s only one team in Division IV that has a higher league rating than ours.

“So for (sixth-rated) Colfax and us, when we get a win it’s multiplied by 6.0 instead of a four-point something (toward the team’s power rating).”

If the Lady Bruins can maintain their rating among the top four teams in Division IV, it would ensure two games within the friendly confines of McCrory Gymnasium.

“That’d be really nice, but it’s going to be tough, though,” Bickmore said. “We have a tough one against Placer (Wednesday) and we still have Whitney and El Dorado.

“If we do, you’ve got to like our chances to have a decent shot to get by the second round. And then from there, you’ve just got to get one win go to Arco Arena.”

Contact Sports Editor Brian Hamilton via e-mail at bhamilton@theunion.com or by phone at 477-4240.


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