The NorCal playoffs are familiar ground for Modesto Christian, and its boys and girls basketball teams can clinch berths by winning Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV semifinals on Wednesday night.
If MC's teams win titles, what might they expect when section commissioners gather Sunday to determine regional seedings?
Here are semifinal pairings in the other sections that will send finalists to the NorCal playoffs. Section winners host regional openers, while the runners-up will travel:
DIVISION IV BOYS
The North Coast has three of the top seven teams in CalHiSports.com's state Division IV rankings -- No. 8 Modesto Christian is the only other NorCal team ranked. ... Salesian has won nine in a row, 15 of 16 and twice beat St. Mary's. It's No. 2 in the state and beat Modesto Christian 69-44 on Dec. 13, when MC was without Reeves Nelson. ... Defending NorCal champ St. Mary's has won 15 of its last 17, both losses to Salesian. It beat Central Coast No. 2 Palma 77-49 on Dec. 20. ... Cardinal Newman won 26 in a row before losing 55-46 to unheralded Piner, and it played a mediocre schedule compared to its section rivals.
Menlo has won 14 in a row and 18 of 19, with only a 56-52 loss to Harker. It beat Harker 38-31 in last week's section quarterfinals. ... Palma has won six in a row after having lost three in a row. It fell 77-49 to St. Mary's and 52-50 to Colfax, which lost in the Sac-Joaquin playoffs last week.
Corning has won its last nine. It lost 58-51 to San Juan, the No. 4 seed in the Sac-Joaquin Section, and played a soft schedule with only three foes outside its section. ... Sutter has a 49-31 win over top-seed Corning and had won 14 in a row before losing 63-59 to a .500 team in its regular-season finale. It has a 65-62 win over Encina, which fell in the Sac-Joaquin quarterfinals.
WHAT TO EXPECT: The North Coast champion -- Salesian, St. Mary's or Cardinal Newman -- gets the No. 1 seed and the runner-up is No. 6 so it's in the opposite bracket. A Fortuna title would mean two upsets for the ages took place. ... If Menlo wins the Central Coast, it will challenge MC for the No. 2 seed. Menlo has fewer losses, but MC's difficult schedule and success at the regional level makes it an easy call for commissioners. ... If Menlo and MC win titles, the Northern champ is No. 4 -- regardless of who wins. ... A likely first-round: No. 8 Palma at No. 1 Salesian, No. 7 Sutter at No. 2 MC, No. 6 St. Mary's at No. 3 Menlo, No. 5 Christian Brothers at No. 4 Corning.
DIVISION IV GIRLS
The North Coast has two of the top six in the state poll. ... St. Mary's has won 22 in a row since losing 42-41 to Sacramento, a Sac-Joaquin D-III semifinalist and No. 9 in the state. The Panthers beat Modesto Christian 41-28 on Dec. 30 at the West Coast Jamboree. ... Three of Marin Catholic's losses are to D-V power Branson (No. 2 in the state poll), but none were close. ... Moreau has won 15 of 16, with a 67-27 loss to Bishop O'Dowd (25-2) breaking that string. It was the third time that O'Dowd routed Moreau this season.
Santa Cruz has three losses to St. Francis of Watsonville (22-6), the No. 2 seed in the Central Coast D-V playoffs. ... Mercy plays in the always-difficult West Bay League, with D-V state powers Pinewood and Eastside Prep.
Corning has won 13 in a row and is 2-1 vs. Central Valley, but the Cardinals schedule is soft beyond that. ... Central Valley is 3-3 in its last six, including big losses to Alameda and Fortuna -- teams that didn't make it past the second round of section playoffs. CV struggled to earn a 53-45 win over Central Catholic (8-19).
WHAT TO EXPECT: The North Coast winner is the No. 1 seed and the runner-up is No. 6 -- again, so they're in opposite brackets. ... MC's rival for No. 2 is Santa Cruz, which is part of a weak Central Coast bracket. Don't be surprised if Mercy prevails, despite all its losses. ... The Northern champ, neither has an impressive resume, is No. 4 unless there is an upset. ... A likely first round: No. 8 Mercy at No. 1 St. Mary's, No. 7 Central Valley at No. 2 Santa Cruz, No. 6 Marin Cath. at No. 3 MC, No. 5 Chr. Bros at No. 4 Corning.
-- RICHARD T. ESTRADA