ATWATER — In preparation to face an athletic Grant team tonight, Buhach Colony High girls basketball coach Shane Gentry called on some help.
Gentry brought in the Buhach Colony junior varsity boys team to practice against his girls twice last week.
"I've done it periodically when I know I can't get a good look in practice," Gentry said. "The boys present a challenge with their speed and strength. It helps that they press because we expect to see some pressure."
The eighth-seeded Thunder (21-6) host No. 9 Grant (16-10) in the first round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 2 playoffs at 7 p.m.
The Buhach Colony girls are trying to do what the boys did last week, which is to win the first playoff game in school history.
The Thunder lost to Vacaville last year in a play-in game.
"I think last year we were just happy to be there," Gentry said. "This year we expect it and we expect to play better."
The Pacers present a tough challenge. Grant is led by 6-foot-1 junior Raynell Lynn, who Gentry says is very similar to Merced's Dalonna Jones.
"We've watched a lot of tape of Grant," Gentry said. "They seem like a well-rounded team. They've got four or five girls who can score, but mainly the offense goes through (Lynn).
"They are very good at getting the ball to the rim and they release really well."
Gentry has stressed the importance of getting back on defense and not allowing easy baskets.
"Hopefully Grant isn't faster than our JV boys team or we'll be in trouble," Gentry said. "I had the boys releasing early and we had a hard time at first because we like to watch Jessica (Silva) shoot."
In other action tonight, No. 12 Merced travels to Fairfield to face No. 5 Armijo in the Division 1 playoffs. In Division 4, Hilmar and Los Banos both have long road trips to play Bear River and Colfax, respectively.
The Le Grand girls also open the playoffs at Woodland Christian in Division 5.
Staff reporter Shawn Jansen can be reached at (209) 385-2462 or firstname.lastname@example.org.