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Vista thrilled to be second seed in Division III playoffs

By: Matt Long
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For the first time since 2009, Vista del Lago’s varsity girls’ basketball team is favored to win a first-round playoff game.

With a 22-5 record, the Eagles earned the No. 2 seed in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoffs and open postseason play at home on Tuesday against 15th-seeded Benicia (15-9).

“Most years I’ve been disappointed where we’ve been seeded,” Vista Coach Marty Benjamin said. “I didn’t think we were seeded where we deserved to be. This year, the girls erupted when they saw where they were seeded. We know we’re going to get two home games if we take care of business on Tuesday. We’re very happy with where we are seeded.”

The No. 2 seed equals the highest Vista has ever been seeded. In their first playoff season in 2009, the Eagles were seeded second in the Division IV playoffs and split two games in the postseason. Winning the second playoff game and reaching the semifinals this season would be something the Eagles have never done.

“We lost to Cordova earlier this year so we can’t look past anyone,” Benjamin said. “Winning that first game is something we definitely want to do. Anything after that is gravy. We’re going to have to beat somebody good to get anywhere. This is the playoffs.”

If the Eagles can beat Benicia, they’d play at home again Thursday against either seventh-seeded Placer (15-11) or 10th-seeded River Valley (15-11), who they beat on the road 63-61 on Dec. 14.

Patterson (20-4), the champions of the Western Athletic Conference, is the seed third and a possible semifinal matchup. On the other side of the bracket, Rio Linda (22-5) is the top seed, while Manteca (16-10) is seeded fourth.