Two weeks remain in the regular season, but basketball teams are already planning for the playoffs based on the Sac-Joaquin Section power ratings released this week.
DIVISION ITop local seeds: No. 2 Turlock (18-4), No. 3 Merced (18-4), No. 4 Davis (18-4). At risk: No. 19 Johansen (14-8). Outlook: Earning a top eight seed means a home opener, always preferrable to a long bus trip. Turlock and Merced are safely in the top eight, barring a collapse, and Davis can afford a loss or perhaps two and still get a home opener. Franklin of Elk Grove (18-2) is the top seed, but far from a consensus pick to win it all. Sheldon (15-5) is the wildcard, opening league at 2-3 and No. 15 in the ratings -- with only the top 16 advancing. Hurt by injuries, including 6-6 Darius Nelson (22 ppg), the Huskies could be a low seed with a big upside.
DIVISION IITop local seed: No. 11 Pitman (14-8). Outlook: Placement depends on its upcoming battle with rival Turlock. If the Pride wins out, it could get to No. 8 -- if some of the teams in front of it lose. Atwater (8-12) is No. 24 and is all but officially out of the race.
Top local seeds: No. 6 Manteca (16-5). At risk: No. 15 Livingston (15-5), No. 16 Sierra (15-7), No. 17 Sonora (13-10), No. 19 East Union (9-10). Outlook: Typically one of the most rugged divisions, it is again loaded with heavyweights. Manteca is just one of a half-dozen athletic teams that could make a run for the title -- Sacramento (13-4), Vista del Lago (19-2) and Center (17-2) are among the others. If Vista del Lago sounds familiar, it should: It nearly upset Modesto Christian last year in the Division 4 semifinals. Hard to imagine Livingston, Sierra and Sonora all going. Sierra and Sonora still must face VOL kingpins Manteca and Weston Ranch, and an upset win could punch their ticket.
DIVISION IVLocal top seeds: No. 2 Calaveras (16-5), No. 4 Modesto Christian (11-8), No. 5 Central Catholic (17-4), No. 6 Mariposa (18-3). At risk: No. 16 Denair (11-9), No. 20 Ripon (10-11). Outlook: MC is expected to go unbeaten in the TVL, and no one is in position to overtake them at No. 4. The good news is No. 3 Christian Brothers is likely to lose another league game or two, allowing MC to go up a spot and avoid a semifinal vs. No. 1 Colfax (18-4). If playoffs opened today, the Stanislaus District would get nine teams in this division. Most are jockeying for spots between the No. 5 and No. 11 positions.
Top local seed: No. 1 Ripon Christian (16-3). At risk: No. 11 Big Valley (8-10). Outlook: RC and No. 2 Victory Christian (17-2) are favorites, but RC could lose the top seed because it's expected to lose to Modesto Christian in their upcoming league game. That could mean a semifinal with No. 3 Bradshaw Christian, the third team in what is considered a three-team race.
-- Richard T. Estrada