Power struggles in semifinals
It’s not often Mike Takayama leads his Del Oro High girls onto the basketball court and isn’t the winningest coach in the building.
Today’s Sac-Joaquin Section Division II semifinal features two of the top coaches in the history of the Sacramento area.
El Camino’s Bill Baxter picked up the 600th win of his coaching career last month. Takayama won No. 500 at Del Oro last season. Baxter’s Eagles have piled up victories this season, building a 28-1 record. But they’ve rarely seen a team with the talent and depth of the Golden Eagles.
Del Oro (25-3) is ranked No. 4 in California in Division II by MaxPreps. UC Santa Barbara-bound senior Madeline Campbell leads a balanced offense with nearly 15 points per game. Senior Belle Obert, who will play volleyball at Butler next fall, anchors a defense that can press full court or lock teams down in the halfcourt.
Sophomore Brianna Ruiz and senior Crystal Sewell both average double figures in the scoring column. Senior Becky Duncan is also a threat with her speed and scrappy defense.
El Camino has a strong one-two punch in senior forward Laurel Donnenwirth (5-9) and guard Jade Sowell Hundon.
Oak Ridge is the only team to beat El Camino so far this season, winning 60-54 in El Dorado Hills on Dec. 22. Del Oro beat Oak Ridge 43-31 on Jan. 8.
No. 2 Bear River vs. No. 3 Calaveras
The Bruins are two wins away from their 11th Sac-Joaquin Section title in girls basketball.
The Mother Lode League champions stand in their way today in the Division IV semifinals at Tokay High in Lodi. Juniors Nikki Gleason and senior Samantha Golston, who both average more than 11 points per contest, lead the Redskins.
Junior Jenn Meylor erupted for 26 points to spark Bear River in its semifinal victory over Argonaut. The Bruins get great leadership and scoring from seniors Kelsey Uno and Lindsey Harter. Sophomore Sarah Hagar is an unsung defender and rebounder.
Bear River (25-4) is looking to return to the section title game for the first time since 2007, when it won its second straight championship.
No. 4 Colfax vs. No. 1 Modesto Christian
The Falcons flew past their first two playoff opponents, but the competition will be turned up a notch or two tonight in Lodi.
Modesto Christian (21-8) is the two-time defending section champion and has won six titles in the last seven seasons.
The Crusaders have an explosive freshman guard in Charise Holloway and a tough inside presence with 6-1 forward Danielle Thompson. Holloway averages more than 10 rebounds per game to go with nearly 17 points.
Colfax counters with its hard-nosed defense and efficient offense. Senior Michelle Walker, the Pioneer Valley League’s co-MVP, leads the way with 14.2 points and 8.8 rebounds per game.
The Falcons (23-6) will need sharp shooting from guards April Littlejohn, Ashley Scott and Haley Biles to knock off the top seed.