No. 1 seed not in the cards for Golden Eagle girls

By: Mike Ray, Gold Country News Service
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Veteran Del Oro girls basketball coach Mike Takayama has been coaching long enough to know when the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section office offers the disclaimer — “Don’t anticipate the brackets” — in regards to the release of its final brackets for its playoff basketball tournament, well, they mean just that. So that’s why Sunday afternoon Takayama wasn’t taken too much by surprise to learn that his Lady Eagles, the No. 1 rated girls team in Div. III through the first three releases of the CIF’s power ratings, were seeded No. 2 for the 16-team tournament that begins Tuesday night. “When you have a team like St. Mary’s in your division every year, you can expect funny things like that to happen,” said Takayama. “I think we were a little disappointed at first but we’re still in a good position to do well.” Takayama was referring to the fact that despite the final power ratings numbers, which are never made public by the section, St. Mary’s was able to leap frog the Lady Eagles into the Div. III top spot. “The section has the ability to move teams if there is a glaring injustice in the ratings,” said Takayama. “We didn’t think it would be us though.” For the uninformed, St. Mary’s of Stockton is a perennial girls hoop power both statewide and nationally. This season the Rams are 23-3 with seven wins over out-of-state competition and are ranked among the nation’s top teams in several national polls. By moving the Rams into the top spot and Del Oro (24-1) to No. 2, the Lady Eagles, if form holds true in the brackets, would have to get past No. 3 Sacramento High, another perennial power, in the semi-final round at Galt next week to earn a trip to Arco Arena for the Div. III finals March 6. Del Oro, which opens the playoffs Tuesday with a 7 p.m. home game against Center, would host another home game on Thursday if the Lady Eagles can get past the Cougars. “Center is athletic and likes to run,” said Takayama. “We’re not going to take them lightly by any means. I would rather be playing a team from the valley that has to drive two and a half hours.” On the boys’ side of the tournament, Del Oro, 19-7, and the No. 2 seed, will host El Camino, 11-16 Wednesday at 7 p.m. The first round game will be a rematch of a contest played at the Common Good Classic in January which Del Oro pulled out an 83-76 win. Coach Geoff Broyles’ Golden Eagles, with a win in the first round, would host the winner of Wednesday’s Sonora-Patterson game on Friday, also at 7 p.m.