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Lady Eagles roll into semis

BASKETBALL PLAYOFFS
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The cream is starting to rise to the top in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Div. II girls basketball playoffs. Making the playoff seeding committee look like prophets, the four top four Div. II girls teams romped through quarter-final round ac-tion Feb. 24 to set up last night’s high-powered semi-final round slated for the University of Pacific in Stockton. In a bid to reach Saturday’s 1 p.m. Div. II girls championship game at Power Balance Pavilion in Sacramento, Wednesday semi-finals at UOP found No. 2 seed Del Oro, 24-3, set to meet No. 3 seed El Camino, 28-1, while No. 1 seed and nationally ranked St. Mary’s of Stockton, 22-2, was slated to take on No. 4 seed Bella Vista, 23-5. While the goal of the Div. II final four is to bring home a CIF Sac-Joaquin Section championship, the four Sac-Joaquin Section semi-finalists also attained berths in the expanded 16-team CIF NorCal Div. II Regional Tournament that will open on Monday and Tuesday of next week. Second round and semi-final regional games are then set for March 10 and March 12 at home sites before the girls Div. II NorCal championship is played on Saturday, March 19 back at Power Balance Pavilion. Last Thursday, Del Oro made sure that if visiting and No. 7 seed Inderkum had any thoughts of notching an upset, it wasn’t going to happen that night. Using their pressure defense to cause early turnovers and following a solid team shooting night, the Lady Eagles streaked out to a lead of 20-8 after a quarter of action and pushed it to 44-17 by halftime. Senior Crystal Sewell tallied 19 points to show the way for the winners, while sophomore Brianna Ruiz added 18 and senior Madeline Campbell followed with 17 more points and dished out seven assists. Del Oro’s inside game, meanwhile, was an-chored by Belle Obert who led the defense with eight steals and six blocks. Earlier last week, the Lady Eagles shook off a sluggish start before getting on track to post a lopsided first round 65-20 destruction of River City. 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. “Coach 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.” Campbell and 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 Lady Eagles. Obert had another good outing as she contributed in all-around play in a big third quarter that enabled her to finish with five assists, two steals and two blocks. Sewell added eight points and five rebounds. ~ Staff report