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CIF Div. IV Basketball Preview

Div IV Teams Will Be Chasing Modesto Christian

Crusader Boys, Girls Loom As Playoff Favorites
By: Mike Ray, Gold Country News Services
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It may not be March just yet but you can bet that the “Madness” that is the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section basketball playoffs will be at full frenzy over the next two weeks. Division IV girls teams will open play Tuesday at different home sites around the section before the boys first round games tip off on Wednesday. All home site playoff games begin at 7 p.m. Second round games for the girls will follow on Thursday and for the boys on Friday again at home sites of the higher remaining seeded teams. Semi-final action then moves to Tokay High in Lodi next Wednesday, March 3. The CIF’s Div IV finals are then set for Arco Arena on Saturday, March 6 with the girls game set for 11:30 a.m. and the boys at 3 p.m. This season, extra emphasis is being placed on early round playoff games as for the first time all eight teams – four girls and four boys teams – which reach the semi-final round at Tokay, will earn bids to the newly expanded NorCal Regional Tournament which will begin on March 9. Locally, in the Div. IV ranks, Tuesday night Colfax’s girls, a No. 3 seed, will entertain No. 14 San Juan while Bear River, the No. 5 seed hosts No. 12 Ripon. Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Colfax’s boys, the No. 1 Div. IV seed entertains No. 16 seeded Ripon (13-14). Anyway you cut it, hoop fans around the section should be in store from some exciting playoff action. Here’s a capsule preview of how the Div. IV boys and girls tournaments shape up: Div. IV Boys For the last 10 seasons, if there’s been one constant in the Sac-Joaquin Section’s boys playoffs it’s that there’s a good chance that Modesto Christian will be taking home a championship pennant. Since 2000, the Crusaders have captured 10 straight section crowns including three at Div. IV, five at Div. V and in 2001 and 2002, two at Div. I. And, although MC is seeded No. 3 behind Colfax and Calaveras in this year’s tournament, and that for the first time in recent years the Crusaders don’t have a marquee Div. I type player ala Reeves Nelson (UCLA), D.J. Seeley (Cal) or Chuck Hays (Kentucky, Houston Rockets), the general consensus among prep observers is that MC is still the team to beat. “They’re still the team to beat,” said Colfax coach Mike O’Connell. “Don’t look at their record. I think they opened a lot of eyes when they beat Sac High two weeks ago.” MC enters the tournament with a mark of 18-8 but many of the losses came early in the season against top-flight opponents while the school’s football team was playing deep into December winning a CIF State Bowl Game title. In a move that is relatively new to MC’s past championship teams, Crusader coach Gary Porter is using a full-scale platoon system this season where he rotates five new players in at different intervals. It must be working too. In 10 Trans Valley League games this season only one team – Ripon Christian – was able to stay within 20 points of the Crusaders in league play. Boys Div. IV Favorite: No. 3 Modesto Christian (18-8). Don’t Count Out: No. 1 Colfax (23-4), No. 5 Central Catholic (22-5). Darkhorse: No. 8 Cosumnes Oaks (15-12). Best 1st Round Game: Linden (14-10) at Cosumnes Oaks. Players To Watch: 6-7, 230-pound Aaron Judge, Linden; 6-5 240-pound Cody Wichman, Mariposa; 6-5 250-pound Asante Cleveland, Christian Brothers; 6-6 Dan Hulst and 6-5 Dusty Killian, Central Catholic; guard Isaiah Burse, Modesto Christian; guard Matt Ratto, Ripon. Div. IV Girls You can almost bet that Colfax High girls coach Dave Campbell was like a kid at Christmas when the section released the girls Div. IV pairings Sunday afternoon. You know, the one that is wishing for a bicycle from Santa Claus but instead gets a Ferrari. Sitting in the No. six spot in the section power ratings on Feb. 15, Campbell’s Lady Falcons used season closing wins over Lincoln and Placer to leap frog three teams and end up as the No. 3 seed and with a shot to host a pair of home games. “I think the section took a look at Div. IV and did the right thing,” said Campbell noting that 27-0 Argonaut, the top team two weeks ago, ended up second and Modesto Christian was moved to first. “We all know that Modesto Christian is probably the most talented team.” Bear River, meanwhile, felt the brunt of a pair of losses last week to Whitney and El Dorado as the Bruins fell from the No. 1 spot to No. 5. Favorite: No. 1 Modesto Christian (23-4). Don’t Count Out: No. Argonaut (27-0); No. 3 Colfax (15-11); No. 4 Christian Brothers (17-10); No. 6 West Campus (20-6). Darkhorse: No. 5 Bear River (19-7), No. 7 Capital Christian (23-4). Best 1st Round Game: No. 9 Vacaville Christian (21-6) at No. 8 Linden (19-8). Players To Watch: guard Brandi Henton and 6-1 forward Danielle Thompson, Modesto Christian; 6-1 Lauren Godde, Argonaut; guard Jazmin Henderson, West Campus; 5-10 Brea Faulk, Capital Christian.