Eagles heat up in opener

Del Oro trails early, then romps over River City as Campbell scores 21
By: Todd Mordhorst Journal Sports Editor
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LOOMIS — Mike Takayama was hoping he could save his inspirational pep talks until March, but he felt like his team needed a boost in its Sac-Joaquin Section Division II playoff opener Tuesday night. The Del Oro High coach was less than thrilled with his team’s play early on against River City, but by the third quarter, the Golden Eagles looked like the team that is seeded No. 2 and on a collision course to face perennial state power St. Mary’s of Stockton for the section championship. Del Oro buried River City 65-20 to advance to Thursday’s section quarterfinal. The Eagles will host Inderkum — a 77-55 winner over Bethel Tuesday night. Senior Crystal Sewell said going a week without a game and celebrating Senior Night may have contributed to Del Oro’s early struggles. The Eagles trailed 7-5 midway through the first quarter before storming back with a 16-0 run to end the quarter. By halftime it was 29-12. In the third quarter Del Oro turned it up another notch, outscoring the Raiders 26-2. “I don’t think we were focused in the first half,” Sewell said. “(Takayama) made a really inspiring halftime speech. He said he knows how good we are and we have to go out and prove it. We know what we have to do, we just have to work on our mental game.” Senior Madeline Campbell and sophomore Brianna Ruiz hooked up early and often. Campbell finished with 21 points, five assists and two blocks. Ruiz added 14 points, five assists and two steals for the Eagles (23-3). Belle Obert had a big third quarter to finish with five assists, two steals and two blocks. Sewell added eight points and five rebounds. “In the first half there was a lot of spectating,” Takayama said. “We came out very tentative. It was senior night and I think they realized this could be their last game. I think we needed this game to get us mentally focused.” Del Oro missed Sewell for nearly a month earlier this season when she tore a ligament in her right thumb. She got a chance to improve her touch with her left hand, but the 5-11 forward is just now starting to feel close to normal on the court. “It’s taken me awhile, but I’m finally better,” she said. “I’m playing without tape on it, so that helps a lot.” The Eagles can clinch a second straight trip to the CIF Northern California playoffs with a win Thursday.