A ticket to the Northern California playoffs has virtually become a standing invite for Modesto Christian's boys basketball team, which is aiming for its 10th consecutive berth.
It's become a regular part of the girls' season, too, with the Crusaders having earned a berth three years in a row and four of the last five.
Modesto Christian can double-dip yet again by winning in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV semifinals at Tokay High on Wednesday -- a victory will guarantee a NorCal berth.
Winning Saturday's finals at Arco Arena assures both teams a home opener in the regional tournament -- which is why it's important that both Crusaders teams finish strong.
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MC's boys (20-8) and girls (22-7) have piled up plenty of losses. The boys were hurt by Reeves Nelson's injury at the start of the season, and both teams play rugged schedules.
When section commissioners determine the regional seeds, a team's finish is more important than its start. So a team that blasts through its section tournament gets extra love from the committee.
MC's boys have won 17 of their last 18 games and the girls have won 16 of their last 17 games. Both are favored to win section titles, based on the state Division IV rankings from CalHiSports.com.
There will likely be a major battle for the No. 2 seed in the boys and girls NorCal brackets. The No. 2 seed is expected to draw an easier opener and is in position to host a semifinal game.
The North Coast Section is expected to land the top seeds in each bracket, while its runner-up will likely be No. 6 -- and will face the third seed.
The North Coast is the class of the division, according to CalHiSports.com. Two of its boys' and two of its girls' teams are ranked higher than any other NorCal D-IV team.
Section champions get the top four seeds and the runners-up are usually seeded so they are in the bracket opposite of the team that just beat them.
That way, if a section has the two best teams, they would play in the regional final.
Bee staff writer Richard T. Estrada can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2300.