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Lady Eagles await playoff pairings

GIRLS BASKETBALL
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You can bet that fans and followers of the Del Oro Lady Eagles girls basketball team will be more than interested observers when the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section announces its playoff brackets this Sunday afternoon. While coach Mike Takayama’s Lady Eagles (8-0, 21-3) continued their march through the Sierra Foothill League last week with a pair of easy wins, more and more focus as next week’s playoffs approach is how CIF Sac-Joaquin Section officials handle the “St. Mary’s Factor” in this year’s Div. II playoff seedings. Going into this week’s SFL season-ending contests with Woodcreek on Tuesday and at home tonight versus Nevada Union, the Lady Eagles, to no surprise, maintained their status as the No. 1 Div. II team in the section’s latest power ratings that were released on Monday. However, lurking in the No. 4 position, is national power St. Mary’s of Stockton, which hasn’t lost to a Sac-Joaquin Section team in more than five seasons. The question is: will the CIF tinker with the final seedings to set up a possible Del Oro-St. Mary’s final? “It’s something that we always look at in every division,” said CIF assistant commissioner John Williams on Monday. “We try to protect the No. 1 seed and a lot of times teams will get shuffled around a spot or two.” For Del Oro, the Div. II playoffs will open next Tuesday night in Loomis with game time set for 7 p.m. Possible opening round foes for the Lady Eagles include either River City, Will C. Wood of Vacaville, Ponderosa, Bethel or Rio Americano. All of those schools were sitting between spots No. 14 through No. 18 in the current power ratings. If the Lady Eagles can navigate through the first round, they would host a second round game on Thursday, Feb. 24. The semi-final round is then set for March 2 at UOP in Stockton with the finals at 1 p.m. Saturday, March 5, at Arco Arena. In last Thursday’s game at Roseville, Brianna Ruiz and Belle Obert tossed in 14 points each to lead the Lady Eagles’ 59-37 win. Madeline Campbell added 13 more markers. ~ Staff report