SFL fight to the finish
While there are certainly problems with human polls to determine champions, Sac-Joaquin Section boys basketball could probably use a little intervention into its computer rankings.
While the Sierra Foothill League teams bang on each other every night in a league that has strong teams from the top to nearly the bottom, the leaders in other leagues have a much easier path through the regular season. The formulas that calculate playoff placement do take league strength into account, but the eye test might indicate that they do not go far enough.
The winner of Wednesday night’s Woodcreek at Oakmont battle has a chance, if they win out, to get as high as No. 2 in the power ratings, but both teams are probably deserving of top-four positioning. The top four have the chance to play their first two playoff games at home.
“I think it will be difficult for two SFL schools to get into the DII top four,” said Oakmont coach Rick Campbell. “(That is) mainly because we play in the toughest league in the section. We are beating each other up every night. Collectively, we need wins and we would need others above us to lose, but they play in leagues that aren't as deep.”
Thus, the game that tips in the Oakmont gym at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday has a ton of implications. Not only does the winner have a leg up in the race to hang a league title banner in its gym, but it also is in position to play for that important top-four position.
The game will be a battle between teams with contrasting styles. Oakmont is dominant in its half-court game with Tony Gill and J.T. Adenrele in the paint, Alex Ford firing from long range, and guards Fred Mobley and Matt Daly breaking down the defense. The Vikings will run on opportunity, and get an added boost by Gill’s ability to step out to the perimeter and bang the 3-pointer.
Woodcreek, on the other hand, thrives because of its depth and its ability to pressure its opponents in the full court. The Timberwolves can do some damage in other ways with the shooting of Ryan Milat and the inside presence of 6-foot-11 center Mike Kurtz, but this team is best when it is creating chaos.
Oakmont has an extremely talented first unit, while Woodcreek delights in its depth. Nik Milani plays much bigger than the 6-foot-3 at which he is listed, and the Timberwolves come at you in waves with James Geyer, John Peska, Devin Murphy and Derek Anganes not losing much when they come in off the bench.
“Oakmont's starting five is as good as any in the area, and Woodcreek’s depth is as good as any in the area,” said Granite Bay coach Jason Sitterud. “I would say the keys to the game are whose bigs can avoid picking up cheap fouls, whose point guards can control the tempo of the game, and who will win the matchup between Mobley and Milani.”
The battle will be fierce, the gym will be lively, and the stakes will be high.
“Wednesday's game is going to be fun,” Campbell said. “For us, it’s our last regular season home game so it’s senior night. The atmosphere will be amazing. It’s what high school athletics are all about. I simply told my guys to play hard enjoy the moment, its something they will remember for the rest of their lives.”
At Granite Bay, there has to be a bit of frustration as Sitterud looks at the power ratings. Three teams that his squad dominated in non-league play (Del Campo, Grant and Bella Vista) all sit ahead of his Grizzlies.
Granite Bay will likely need to win at least one of its final three games (against Rocklin, Del Oro and Woodcreek) if it is to hold on and stay in the postseason mix. That is a difficult closing run in an outstanding league.
“Not exactly the ideal situation to be in,” Sitterud said. “We played one of our better games of the year Friday night and hopefully we can carry that momentum into our last three games and continue to compete at a high level.”
Over in Division V, Roseville’s Valley Christian Academy sits third in the power ratings, with two big games coming up the next two Friday nights. The Lions host No. 5 Sac Waldorf this week and then welcome No. 1 Bradshaw Christian in a season finale next week that could have major ramifications for both teams.
Feb. 8 Division II Sac-Joaquin Section boys power ratings (top 16 make the playoffs)
- Jesuit (18-4)
- Fairfield (18-5)
- Yuba City (19-3)
- Oakmont (17-5)
- Woodcreek (18-5)
6. Rocklin (17-7)
8. Folsom (12-10)
15. Granite Bay (16-8)
Feb. 8 Division V Sac-Joaquin Section boys power ratings (top 16 make the playoffs)
- Bradshaw Christian (16-6)
- Victory Christian (18-3)
- Valley Christian (18-4)
- Ripon Christian (14-5)
- Sac Waldorf (15-6)
Wednesday night’s SFL boys schedule (freshmen at 4:30, JV at 6, varsity at 7:30 p.m): Del Oro at Roseville, Woodcreek at Oakmont, Nevada Union at Rocklin
Friday night SFL boys schedule: Rocklin at Granite Bay, Woodcreek at Roseville, Del Oro at Nevada Union
Friday night in the SMAL: Sac Country Day at Valley Christian