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Playoff picture getting clearer

Prep Basketball Roundup
By: Nick Pecoraro
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With most area hoops teams having just one or two games left on the schedule, the postseason picture is becoming a little more recognizable.

The CIF Sac-Joaquin Section brackets will be determined Saturday by the top MaxPreps ratings in each division. In the midst of the final week of the regular season, here’s how things look to be shaping up.

BOYS

Rocklin (24-3, 7-2 SFL)

Remaining games: Friday vs. Whitney

The top team to come out of Placer County will be the Thunder. With just three losses in a tough schedule, Rocklin is one of the top Division II teams in all of California.

A combination of efficient outside shooting and a deadly full-court press favor the Thunder in the D-II bracket. Staying healthy throughout the postseason will be key for Steve Taylor’s gang, which features guards Darrius Kendall, Cory Gohl and Evan Terry, and frontcourt grinders Ethan Remmers, Henry Strecker and Liam Mays.

 

Whitney (18-9, 5-4 SFL)

Remaining games: Friday at Rocklin

The rest of the D-II bracket should be full of Placer County squads, including Whitney, currently ranked fourth by MaxPreps. Despite hovering around .500 in the ever-challenging Sierra Foothill League, the Wildcats had a 13-5 non-league slate with the third-highest strength-of-schedule in D-II.

Whitney relies on youth with juniors Ryan King and Jacob Fink leading the scoring output while senior Isaac Ackerman provides balance and leadership for the ‘Cats.

 

Roseville (19-7, 9-1 CVC)

Remaining games: Friday vs. Inderkum

The Tigers have had their best season in head coach Greg Granucci’s tenure with the team, which is nearing two decades. Jaylen Solich, Bernie Graves and Josh Alger lead a talented group that wins games with heart, hustle and unselfishness.

Currently a 6-seed in the MaxPreps rankings, Roseville could wrap up the Capital Valley Conference outright with a victory on Senior Night against Inderkum.

 

Granite Bay (8-19, 1-8 SFL)

Remaining games: Friday vs. Del Oro

The Grizzlies’ 1-8 SFL showing has not been ideal, but they have the top overall strength-of-schedule among the potential playoff teams in D-II, which could carry just enough weight to get the Grizzlies in.

A lot will ride on what senior-heavy Granite Bay does on Senior Night against Del Oro Friday. The best case scenario is the Grizzlies sneak in and potentially get a first-round game against Rocklin or Grant.

 

Woodcreek (16-9, 5-6 CVC)
Remaining games: Friday vs. Yuba City

MaxPreps has the Timberwolves as a 13-seed in the Division I bracket as of Wednesday night. A potential first-round matchup could see Woodcreek take on current No. 4 Jesuit.

Led by senior Carter Krupp, the Timberwolves’ varsity quarterback, Woodcreek would surely like a chance to get back at the Marauders for the early playoff exit during football season.

Jesuit will likely wrap up the Delta League title by virtue of top-ranked Sheldon having to forfeit four league games for a player participating in organized competition away from the team. Sheldon is still, however, projected to get a top seed by MaxPreps.

 

Western Sierra (15-12, 10-4 SMAL)

The Wolves finished their regular season strong, winning their last five in a row to put them in second place in the Sacramento Metro Athletic League.

The top three teams in the SMAL should qualify, according to the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section website. Currently ranked 14th by MaxPreps, Western Sierra will at best have a road game in the opening round.

 

Valley Christian (8-18, 7-7 SMAL)

The Lions showed signs of life late in SMAL play, but it may have been too little, too late after starting the year winning just one of its first 12 games.

VCA currently sits in the 12-spot in the Division VI rankings.

 

 

GIRLS

Valley Christian (23-3, 13-1 SMAL)

While the VCA boys await their playoff fate from the Section, the Lady Lions ensured their seventh consecutive SMAL championship with a 75-42 win over El Dorado Adventist Tuesday night. Bernada Rreshpja’s balled out on Senior Night with a 32-point, 10-rebound, 10-assist and 10-steal quadruple-double.

The Lady Lions are projected to be the top overall seed in D-VI. Behind Rreshpja’s school record 663 total points (26.5 per game), VCA will look for its fourth section banner in program history.

 

Western Sierra (21-7, 12-2 SMAL)

Brenna Mellish nearly completed a quadruple-double on Senior Night Tuesday with 22 points, nine rebounds, 11 assists and 11 steals as the Lady Wolves, ranked fourth in the D-V section finished up their season at 12-2 in league and 20-7 overall.

Freshman Courtney Gage added 20 points and 12 rebounds in Tuesday’s win for WSCA, who should likely receive a home game in the first round next week.

 

Del Oro (21-6, 4-5 SFL)

Remaining games: Friday at Granite Bay

Despite a 4-5 SFL mark, the Lady Eagles have proven to be battle-tough. Shawn Huckaby’s squad, which is ranked third in D-II, has one of the most balanced starting five’s in the section that should prove to make waves in the D-II tourney.

The Lady Eagles had their biggest win of the season Wednesday night, knocking off D-I top seed Folsom.

 

Whitney (16-11, 6-3 SFL)

Remaining games: Friday at Rocklin

The Lady ‘Cats can virtually assure themselves a first-round home game with a win at rival Rocklin Friday. Whitney, who is led by four-year varsity player Jada Lewis, sits fourth in MaxPreps’ D-II ladder.

 

Granite Bay (13-13, 3-6 SFL)

Remaining games: Friday vs. Del Oro

The Lady Grizzlies sit sixth in the D-II rankings and have a huge regular-season finale on Senior Night against Del Oro Friday.

First-year head coach Paul Shafto gave his team the third-toughest schedule among section D-II teams, an asset that could merit a home game in the opening round.

 

Roseville (15-10, 8-3 CVC)

Remaining games: Thursday vs. Inderkum

With CVC mate Antelope likely to secure the top spot in D-II, Roseville may see a familiar face if it can advance past the first round. Led by sophomore Alyssa Sandle’s 13.3 points per game, Roseville sits in the 10-spot for its division.

 

Woodcreek (18-8, 8-3 CVC)

Remaining games: Thursday vs. Yuba City

Woodcreek won seven of its last eight heading into Thursday’s season finale against Yuba City. As of Tuesday, the Lady ‘Wolves were ranked eighth in D-I with potential opponents such as Lincoln of Stockton, Davis and Franklin of Elk Grove looming.

Should Woodcreek move on, a potential 1-8 matchup could ensue with a date at top-seeded Folsom High in the second round.