BY TREVOR HORN
THE NATOMAS BUZZ | @natomasbuzz
The Sac Joaquin Section Division III basketball playoffs begin with home games at the top-8 seeds on Tuesday, Feb. 19 for girls teams and Feb. 20 for the boys.
Both Inderkum High School teams advanced to the playoffs with No. 10 seeds and the Natomas High School girls team advanced with the No. 16 seed.
The Lady Tigers open on the road at No. 7 Manteca High School while the Lady Nighthawks girls travel to top-seed Christian Brothers High School. Both games start at 7 p.m.
The Tigers travel to No. 7 Placer High School on Feb. 20 for a rematch – when the teams last faced each other in December, Inderkum won 59-58. The game Wednesday starts at 7 p.m. in Auburn.
Here’s a look at all 32 teams in the playoffs:
Boys Sac Joaquin Section Division III
1. Modesto Christian-Modesto (24-3, 12-0 Trans Valley League) – The absolute cream of the crop in SJS DIII, and there is no questioning this. The Crusaders have not lost to a section opponent all season. In fact, only losses come to Bishop O’Dowd High School of Oakland (21-3, No. 1 North Coast Section DIII seed according to Maxpreps), El Camino Real of Woodland Hills (25-2, No. 2 seed in Los Angeles City Section playoffs) and Redondo Union (18-8, No. 2 seed Southern Section playoffs).
The marquee wins for Modesto Christian are SJS DII No. 1 seed St. Mary’s of Stockton and Sylmar, the No. 2 seed in LACS playoffs.
The Crusaders are led by a pair of seniors already committed to University of Pacific (TJ Wallace, Raymond Bowles) and sophomore sensation Anthony Townes plus Christian Ellis, the No. 42 freshman in the nation according to Prospect Central.
2. Sierra-Manteca (23-4, 13-1 Valley Oak) –Missed out on outright league title with 67-50 home loss to Weston Ranch last Friday. Timberwolves have a key win over El Cerrito in non-league game in early Dececember.
3. Casa Roble (21-6, 8-2 Captial Athletic) – Rams are led by Stuteville brothers, who both tower over most competition. Senior Eric (6-foot-10), a Sacramento State commit and junior Mason (6-9) keep the Rams competitive. The Rams beat league rival Del Campo on their resume.
4. Weston Ranch-Stockton (19-8, 13-1 Valley Oak) – The Cougars grabbed a share of the league title with a huge road win last week at Sierra. Led by a trio of seniors in Dylan Alexander (18.1 points per game), Eric Duncan (16.2) and Davieion Lavrett (15.1), Weston Ranch lost to El Cerrito at same tournament Sierra beat them back in December. Inderkum also beat Weston Ranch 80-79 a week later in Reno. But wins over Rocklin and last week’s win make a solid case for the Cougars to make a deep run.
5. Lincoln-Lincoln (20-7, 7-3 Pioneer Valley) –The Zebras edged out Colfax Tuesday for the league title in the up-for-grabs PVL. Led by junior Adam Felt, Lincoln is a gritty team that will beat you in a multitude of different ways.
6. Patterson-Patterson (21-6, 10-2 Western Athletic) – The Tigers finished second in the WAC to the No. 2 D-V seed Captial Christian despite splitting season series with a 68-66 home win on Jan. 16.
7. Placer-Auburn (19-8, 6-4 PVL) –The Hillmen seem to go as senior forward Isaiah Pineiro goes. Case in point was a loss to Center (6-19, 1-9) on Jan. 30 when Pineiro sat parts of the first and third quarter and all of the second quarter in foul trouble. However, when he’s on, so is Placer. Last week at Bear River, Pineiro scored 31 and Placer won in overtime.
8. Fairfield (15-12, 7-3 Solano County) – Co-league champs in SCL and are battled tested with losses to Pleasant Grove, De La Salle and Granite Bay. A lost to Vanden on Tuesday stings.
9. Foothill (13-14, 6-4 PVL) – Coming off a 29-4 record and advancing to regional semifinals in the state tournament last season, the Mustangs should never be counted out. Led by senior Anthony Williams (15.3 points), Foothill got off to a rocky 2-5 start, but head coach Drew Hibbs knows a few things about playoff basketball, with a 2003 state D-III title to show for it.
10. Inderkum (18-9, 8-2 Tri County) – The Tigers won the program’s first TCC title outright Tuesday with a win over rival Natomas and coupled with Yuba City beating River Valley. Inderkum is led by one of the most versatile and underrated players in the section in Terrence White. The junior is averaging 19.5 points a game, including a 41-point explosion against McClatchy on Dec. 28. With wins this season over higher seeds Weston Ranch and round one opponent Placer, the Tigers are a wildcard at the No. 10 seed.
11. Vanden (17-10, 7-3 SCL) – Vanden is on a four-game winning streak that took the Vikings to No. 18 in the final power rankings released last week to the No. 11 seed, including a blowout 73-55 over No. 8 seed Fairfield on Tuesday.
12. Rio Americano (14-13, 6-4 Capital Athletic) – The Raiders are battle-tested with a grueling non-league schedule and playing in a tough CAL lineup with D-II favorite Antelope. Rio Americano beat River Valley in non-league play in Dec.
13. River Valley (16-11, 7-3 TCC) – The Falcons were a win away from the program’s first TCC title until five-time defending league champions and rival Yuba City stopped that short on Tuesday. Split season series with Inderkum.
14. East Union (18-8, 7-7 VOL) – Lancer finished noon-league schedule with 11-1 record, but was mostly against D-IV and D-V competition. However, a long VOL league season gives East Union a solid body of work.
15. Ceres (13-12, 6-5 VOL) – Won 8 of 13 games at home this season and split season series with No. 6 seed Patterson.
16. Manteca (13-12, 6-7 VOL) – Only team in D-III to make playoffs with losing league record. Buffaloes also went 0-6 to the other three VOL teams in the playoffs.
Girls Sac Joaquin Section Division III
1.Christian Brothers (20-7, 10-0 Capital Valley) – The Falcons breezed through the CVL by an average margin of victory of 34.3 points per game. Led by senior Ana Burch (11.0 points, 6.6 rebounds, 5.1 assists) and sophomore Kira McKechnie (14.5 points, 7.8 rebounds), the Falcons have won 13 of the last 14 games.
2. Vanden (24-3, 10-0 SCL) – Vikings are in the midst of a 15-game win streak. Well rounded bunch, eight players average at least 5.3 points a game, led by junior Mariah Williams (11.2). This usual suspect for the section playoffs, Vanden has made the semifinals four of the last five years, but has yet to make it to the title game.
3. Rio Americano (24-3, 10-0 CAL) – Winners of 17 consecutive games, the Raiders, led by senior Elizabeth Moulton (15.7 points), last lost on Dec. 14 to No. 4 seed Placer in the Coach G Memorial at Placer High.
4. Placer (23-4, 8-2 PVL) – Here’s a fun fact for Placer, the Hillmen won the Natomas Girls Varsity Tournament on Dec. 22. Placer is stacked with tall-athletic players, including freshman Bailee Vanderdoes, the younger sister of Notre Dame football commit, Eddie Vanderdoes.
5. Patterson (23-2, 12-0 WAC) – Hidden off I-5, Patterson has quietly put together a quality season. The Tigers last loss was to D-V top seed Brookside Christian on Dec. 29. On 15 occasions this year, Patterson has given up 30 or fewer points.
6. Modesto Christian (19-8, 11-1 TVL) – In the shadows of the basketball boys teams, the Modesto Christian girls team split the season series with D-IV Ripon for a share of the league title. Led by junior Lexi Tubbs (14.4 points), four Crusaders average over 9.5 points a game.
7. Manteca (20-6, 14-0 VOL) – Inderkum’s first round opponent has lost four of the six games this season by a combined 10 points. The Buffaloes ran the table in the VOL and are led by University of California commit Courtney Range (20.6 points).
8. River Valley (19-7, 9-1 TCC) – Gritty and tough, the Falcons, coached by former Inderkum athletic director Tom Zaragoza, fell short of a perfect record in league with a road loss to Inderkum on Feb. 5.
9. Weston Ranch (17-8, 12-2 VOL) – Junior Brianna White (14.5 points, 8.5 rebounds) leds a Weston Ranch squad that finished second in the VOL to Manteca.
10. Inderkum (17-10, 8-2 TCC) – The Lady Tigers finished the non-league schedule with a 9-8 record that included games against six of the top 12 teams in the D-I and D-II playoffs. Included in those games are Sacramento (D-II No. 1 seed), Oak Ridge (D-1 No. 2), River City (D-II No. 4), Florin (D-II No. 6) and two games versus Davis (D-I No. 6).
11. Vista del Lago (15-12, 8-4 Sierra Valley) – The Eagles, much like Inderkum, stacked the non-league schedule with top area competition. Led by junior forward Rebecca Stephens, Vista del Lago responded well under first-year head coach Marty Benjamin.
12. Oakmont (19-8, 5-5 CVL) – The Vikings eased into league play with a 13-3 record, but found harder competition in the CVL, including two losses to top seed Christian Brothers by a combined 82 points. But first-year head coach Zachary Lovell has led Oakmont to the team’s best record in over a decade.
13. Rosemont (13-14, 6-8 Metro) – The Wolverines are led by versatile freshman Irene Colaivalu who averages 13.8 points, 7.9 rebounds, 5.9 assists and 4.9 steals per game.
14. Ceres (10-7, 6-4 WAC) – The Bulldogs are in the playoffs for the first time since 2009. Ceres beat No. 7 seed Manteca 32-30 on Dec. 7 in the Ceres Varsity Tournament.
15. Center (11-16, 3-7 PVL) – Sophomore Destinee King (10.9 points, 12.4 rebounds) leads Center, which are one of four teams from the PVL to advance to the playoffs.
16. Natomas (5-17, 4-6 TCC) – The Lady Nighthawks suffered a huge set back when junior Morganne Johnson was lost for the season with a knee injury. And after the JV and varsity combined, Natomas finished 5-7 after starting the season 0-10. Sophomores Halle Hamre (12.3 points) and Hayley Polk (11.8) give first-year head coach Stuart Welch reason to be excited for the future.