The first round of the Sac-Joaquin Section boys Division 1 basketball playoffs begin on Wednesday, and three of the matchups have turned into a Central California Conference-Delta River League showdown.
Merced, Golden Valley and Turlock will face three teams from what is widely considered the best basketball conference in the section. You only need to look at the top seeds in Division 1 (Jesuit) and Division 2 (Folsom) to know why.
The CCC has an opportunity to make a statement on Wednesday.
“I think the DRL is very tough,” said Buhach Colony coach John Bliss, who serves as the CCC representative at section meetings. “They’ve got the reputation as the best basketball league. That’s one reason they get four teams in the playoffs. Those guys have dominated the playoffs.”
Sheldon has come out of the DRL and won four consecutive section titles. Pleasant Grove lost to Sheldon in the Division 1 title game last year, but went on to win a state championship.
It’s a chance for the CCC to earn some credibility with some big wins.
Merced (21-6) is the No. 6 seed and will host No. 11 Pleasant Grove (13-13). Seventh-seeded Golden Valley (21-6) will host No. 10 Oak Ridge (13-13). Sixteenth-seeded Turlock (19-9) travels to No. 1 Jesuit (24-3).
“I think Merced and Golden Valley have a really good shot,” Bliss said. “They’re both at home. Merced and Pleasant Grove are kind of the opposite. Pleasant Grove is going to try to slow it down and get the ball to their big guy. Golden Valley has two fantastic shooters and they do a good job on defense pressuring guys and funneling them to Josh (Sykes), who does a great job of protecting the rim.”
Winning playoff games won’t just help lift the perception of the CCC, but it could also lead to the conference earning an extra playoff spot in future years. The section awards a fourth playoff spot to the conferences that have the best winning percentage in the playoffs the last three years.
Turlock already picked up one win for the CCC on Friday – 43-33 over Stagg in an outbracket game.
“If the CCC can win two out of three, that would give the CCC a 3-1 record and a 2-1 edge against the DRL,” Bliss said. “That would be a big, big night.”
After Shea Williams made a 3-pointer against Le Grand last week, the Mariposa crowd starting chanting 16-hundred.
Williams didn’t know why until after the game when she was told she scored her 1,600th career point. The four-year varsity player finished with 1,620 career points.
Williams averaged 23.2 points per game this season.
It’s been a rough year for Le Grand on the court, but that hasn’t stopped Jordan Curtis from playing well.
The Bulldog senior finished with a triple-double in a 48-39 win over Waterford on Feb. 14. Curtis scored 19 points to go along with 11 rebounds and 11 blocked shots.
After winning 51-44 at Mendota on Friday to clinch a share of the West Sierra League title, the Broncos earned the No. 8 seed for the Division 4 playoffs.
Dos Palos will host No. 9 Kerman on Wednesday in the first round. Dos Palos is led by sophomore guard Kayla Hall, who had 17 points, seven rebounds and six steals in the win over Mendota.