There’s something special about the term “league play” that usually brings out the best in basketball teams. This week at Del Oro High School, both boys coach Geoff Broyles and girls coach Mike Takayama are hoping that their teams are ready to answer the bell as Sierra Foothill League action tips off in earnest. Broyles’ boys squad will start SFL play with the Thursday-Tuesday rotation for the first half of league play, while Takayama’s girls will have the Wednesday-Friday slots. At mid-season, the two teams will flip-flop their scheduled game days. Tonight, the Del Oro boys host Rocklin at 7 p.m., to open their run of what they hope will be a SFL title this season. By non-league results that have been compiled over the last month, the SFL race looks to be a wide open affair with the Golden Eagles and Granite Bay perhaps a step ahead of Roseville, Woodcreek, Nevada Union and Rocklin. Broyles’ boys cagers were hit with a bit of the injury bag-a-boo in the pre-season and also had to deal with three key players performing a bit longer in football pads because of the Golden Eagles reaching the CIF State Championship Bowl game. But last week Del Oro showed they’re rounding into shape with two grind-it-out wins against Lincoln and Monterey Trail and a close four-point loss to a good Div. I, Folsom team. On the girls front, Takayama is hoping that a rigorous pre-season schedule toughened up his Lady Eagles. Using the games to find their identity, the Lady Eagles posted a record of 8-7 and look ready to open defense of the SFL crown, something they have won for the past seven consecutive seasons. Linkster Warming Up It may be only January, but Del Oro’s Austin Smotherman looks primed to have a banner senior season for the Golden Eagles golf team. Smotherman, who played a key role in the Del Oro run to last season’s CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Master’s Tournament championship and finished fourth in the CIF State Tournament at Poppy Hills, played very well over the Christmas vacation break. Competing in the Boys Junior Orange Bowl Championship last week in Florida, Smotherman finished in fifth place and tied for low American in the prestigious international field, which had golfers from 35 different countries competing. Smotherman, who had originally committed to play golf in college at UC Davis, recently signed a letter of intent to play next year at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. Middle School Hoops Play in the Loomis Basin Athletic League’s boys basketball season tipped off this week. The LBAL is made up of teams from Placer, Franklin, Loomis, Powers, Loomis Basin Charter School, Newcastle, Ophir and Penryn. Seventh-grade games tip off at 3:10 p.m., with eighth-grade action immediately following. The league will culminate with the LBAL tournament set for Feb. 13 to 16 at school sites. For a complete league schedule, go to any of the district schools’ websites and click on sports.