Only 21 basketball games (which includes a makeup game tonight) and three days remain before the annual Sac-Joaquin Section/Les Schwab Tires Championships Presented by Farmers Insurance begin their three-day marathon of finals at Sleep Train Arena (Divisions I-V on Friday and Saturday) and Galt High School (newly created Division VI finals on Thursday evening).
More than three-fourths of the games in this year’s tournament have been played, and 21 remain between now and the beginning of the finals, which will be played on Thursday (two games, Division VI), Friday (four games, Divisions III and V) and Saturday (six games, Divisions I, II and IV).
This is the 15th year both boys and girls finals have been played at Sleep Train Arena. There should be some outstanding basketball.
As usual, the Sac-Joaquin Section tournament has had its share of expected and unexpected results in the first week of play.
* 84.3 percent (more than 4 out of 5) of the higher seeded teams have been victorious, which is above the norm. Here are the winning percentages of the higher seeds for the past five years: 2012 – 82.9; 2011 – 85.0; 2010 – 83.4; 2009 – 80.2; 2008 - 78.1.
* Outbracket games saw the higher seed win 7 of 11 games. The vast majority of those games were close as well. Take Wood’s 73-48 victory over River City out of the mix and the other 10 games had a margin-of-victory of seven points. Round one for both boys and girls ended with a 33-7 record for both genders. In the second round, the boys saw higher seeds win 21 of 22 games, while the girls won 19 of 21.
* Only two brackets have seen the top seeds win all of their games (D4 boys – 12-0; D6 girls – 5-0), and three divisions (D3 boys and girls and D6 boys) have seen the top seeds lose only once.
* The No. 1 seed is still alive in all 12 divisions, while Seed No. 2 is alive in 10 brackets. No. 3 seeds are alive in 9 brackets, and No. 4 seeds are still standing in eight brackets. Only two fives, two sixes, one seven and one 12 remain. That makes only six seeds remaining below No. 4.
* In five divisions, the top four seeds remain – D3, 4 and 5 boys and D4 and 5 girls. In Division VI, the finals are set for the boys. That will be 1 vs. 3. On the girls’ side, No. 2 is in the finals, while 1 vs. 4 will play Monday for the right to play in the finals.
* Nine of last year’s 12 champions remain alive in the tournament. On the boys’ side, Sheldon (D-1), Antelope (D-2), Modesto Christian (D-4. Moved to D-3 this year) and Capital Christian (D-5) are still alive. On the girls’ side, St. Mary’s (D-2. Moved to D-1 this year), Kennedy (D-1), Sacramento (D-3. Moved to D-2 this year), Brookside Christian (D-5) and Victory Christian (D-6) are still playing.
* There are two possible repeat finals matchup.
* Boys: D-5 – Capital Christian-Central Catholic.
* Girls: D-5 – Brookside Christian-Turlock Christian.
NOTE: There is a finals rematch, except it will be played in the semifinals on Thursday at UOP – Oak Ridge vs. Kennedy.
* Six different schools have both their boys and girls teams still playing. They are Sacramento, Modesto Christian, Colfax, Brookside Christian, Ripon Christian and Capital Christian. Eighteen times boys and girls teams from the same school have won titles in the same year, last accomplished by Victory Christian last year.
* Seventeen of the 45 remaining teams have never won a Section title in basketball. They are: boys – Bethel, Pleasant Grove, Weston Ranch, Casa Roble, Sierra, Liberty Ranch, Faith Christian and Stockton Christian; girls – Armijo, Florin, McNair, Vanden, Argonaut, Capital Christian, Turlock Christian, Sacramento Country Day and Valley Christian.
* Eight of those 17 non-championship squads have never made an appearance in the finals. They are: boys – Bethel, Pleasant Grove, Casa Roble, Liberty Ranch and Stockton Christian. Girls – Armijo, Sacramento Country Day and Valley Christian.
* One of those eight non-championship teams had never been in the playoffs before this year – Liberty Ranch boys.
* There will be at least one first-time winner. Faith Christian and Stockton Christian will square off in the D-6 boys final. Neither has ever won a Section title.
* The semifinalists with the least number of total championships won is D-1 boys, where Sheldon has won four Section titles and Bella Vista has won one Section title for a combined five. The division with the most Section championships is D-1 Girls – 21. St. Mary’s has won 13 titles, while Kennedy has five and Oak Ridge three. Armijo hasn’t won a Section title.
* Three of the top six boys teams with the most championships won are still alive in the tournament, and all four of the top championship winning teams are alive among the girls. For the boys, it is Modesto Christian (14 titles), Ripon Christian (nine) and Sacramento (six). For the girls, it is St. Mary’s (13), Ripon Christian (11), Bear River (10) and Colfax (nine).
Division I Boys
* The Sheldon boys are looking for their fourth straight Division I championship and fifth in seven years. No boys team has ever won four straight D1 titles. The Huskies and Pleasant Grove have history on their side as well: A team from the DRL has won the D1 boys championship each of the last five years.
* The Sheldon-Bethel matchup is a rematch from last year’s semifinals.
* Other than Sheldon’s four titles, the other three teams in this bracket have combined for one title – Bella Vista in 1990.
Division II Boys
* A pair of intriguing matchups are set for the semifinals. Sacramento and Grant are a mere eight miles apart and both are within shouting distance of Sleep Train Arena. Antelope and Rocklin are relatively new schools with quite the basketball pedigree despite their ages, and they are just 14 miles apart on the I-80 corridor, east of Sacramento.
* Sacramento won five titles in seven years from 2005 through 2011. They are 29-3 in SJS playoffs from 2005 through this season.
* Grant had a pair of nice playoff runs. From 1977-85, they went 18-9 with one title, and from 1996-2000, they went 13-3 with two titles.
* Antelope, despite being a very young school, has won nine of its first 10 playoff games, which includes two trips to the Section finals and one victory.
* Rocklin compiled a 27-10 record with two titles from 1997 to 2010. However, they were absent from the playoffs the past two years before Casey Cutts, a former Thunder player, took over as coach this season.
Division III Boys
* Two VOL teams in opposite brackets – Weston Ranch and Sierra – hope to make it a same-league affair in the finals. However, Modesto Christian (14 titles in 16 years and a 63-12 playoff record) stands in Weston Ranch’s way, and Casa Roble is hoping to stop Sierra’s bid for a second straight finals appearance.
Division IV Boys
* When it comes to public Division IV schools, there’s Colfax and then there’s everybody else. In the past nine years (2004-2012), Modesto Christian has won four Section titles in D4. Colfax has also won four times in that span and finished second twice, both times to Modesto Christian. So, that’s six title appearances in nine years and a 24-4 playoff record in that span.
* The other three teams in this bracket have combined for one Section title – Riverbank in 2001. Summerville is 0-2 in finals appearance, and Liberty Ranch (only four years old) had never been in the playoffs prior to this year.
Division V Boys
* Ripon Christian’s boys had quite the run in the mid 1990s. The Knights took six championships in a row from 1991-96, and appear to be drawing from their glory days this year. Their D5 opponent, Capital Christian, is vying for a repeat championship. In the other half bracket, Central Catholic is trying to get back to the finals for the second straight year and Brookside Christian is hoping to add to its 1998 title.
* In last year’s finals, No. 1 Capital Christian beat No. 2 Central Catholic. This year, the numbers are reversed. Central is No. 1 and Capital is No. 2.
Division VI Boys
* One thing is for sure – the D6 champion will be a first-time champ. Neither No. 1 Faith Christian nor No. 3 Stockton Christian have ever won a Section title.
Division I Girls
* The top-seeded St. Mary’s girls are seeking a first-ever D1 title. The Rams have won four titles in D2, five in D3 and four in D4. Overall, St. Mary’s has won five straight titles and is riding a 22-game winning streak in the playoffs. They face an Armijo program looking for its first finals appearance.
* In the other half bracket, Kennedy and Oak Ridge, last year’s D1 finalists, will square off this time in the semifinals. Kennedy has a lifetime 43-21 playoff record with five titles. Oak Ridge is 38-22 lifetime with three Section titles.
Division II Girls
* The top-seeded Sacramento girls have made it to the finals for nine straight years. They have three titles and six runner-up finishes. The Dragons have D3 in each of the past two years and have moved up to D2 this year.
* Del Oro has been in the playoffs 26 of the past 27 years with titles in 1995 and 1999.
* McNair and Florin square off in the other semifinal. Neither has a Section title to its credit.
Division III Girls
* Christian Brothers and Placer square off in one semifinal, while Modesto Christian and Vanden vie for the other finals spot.
Division IV Girls
* Two of the winningest programs in girls history are in opposite brackets and could meet in the finals. They are also league opponents – Bear River (64-13 all-time with 10 titles) and Colfax (73-22 all-time with nine titles). * Bear River will have to get past undefeated Argonaut to reach its 14th title game. Argonaut is hoping to get back to the title game as an undefeated team for the second time in four year.
* Colfax takes on Bradshaw Christian. The Pride has already won four Section titles in their brief history, compiling an 18-2 mark.
Division V Girls
* Ripon Christian (61-21 all-time with 11 titles) is among a group of three others that have one combined title. Ripon Christian, despite all of its success, has not won a title since 2002. They will face Brookside Christian, last year’s champion and this year’s No. 1 seed. Brookside Christian is the defending state champion as well.
* In the other bracket, No. 2 seed Turlock Christian and No. 3 Capital Christian will do battle for the right to play for the championship. Neither team has a Section title to its credit.
Division VI Girls
* Victory Christian will play Sac Country Day tonight with the winner advancing to the finals to play opposite Valley Christian.
* Eleven coaches with multiple titles to their credit have teams still playing. They are Gary Porter (14), Tom Gonsalves (10), Robb Spencer (5), Derek Swafford (5), Mike Ruble (5 - four girls and one boys), Joey Rollings (4 – three boys and one girls), Steve White (3), Dave Parsh (3), Mike Takayama (2), Jeff Bickmore (2) and Michele Massari (2).
* Junior scoring sensation Tiara Tucker of Brookside Christian scored 42 points in her first playoff contest this year (tied for ninth highest single game in playoff history), adding to her career total 200 for 242 points in eight games for a 30.3 ppg scoring average. The all-time career scoring average leader is Danielle Viglione with a 27.4 mark over nine games. Her 242 total puts her at 10th in career playoff scoring and could easily reach the No. 3 spot before these playoffs are over.
* Lynette Johnson has totaled 192 points in her playoff career and can make it to the coveted 200 mark with eight more points. Her Kennedy team takes on Oak Ridge in the semifinals.
* Sophomore Lily Hagerty of Valley Christian tied a 20-year old-record when she scored 49 points in her team’s win over Trinity. Danielle Viglione of Del Campo scored 49 in a game against Wood in 1993.
* D’Erryl Williams of Sheldon is also closing in on 200 points. The senior has now totaled 176 points with one or two games remaining.
* Raymond Bowles of Modesto Christian has now totaled 187 points with one or two games remaining.
Below is some information you might want/need to know as the weekend approaches.
General admission prices:
General admission gates open:
Wednesday and Friday: 3:30 p.m.
Saturday: 11:00 a.m.
$12.00 - autos
$30 – RVs and buses
4:00 p.m................ D5 girls 11:30 a.m.............. D4 girls
5:30 p.m................ D5 boys 1:00 p.m................ D2 girls
7:30 p.m................ D3 girls 3:00 p.m................ D4 boys
9:00 p.m................ D3 boys 4:30 p.m................ D2 boys
6:30 p.m................ D1 girls
8:30 p.m................ D1 boys