Boys Playoff Preview: Hillmen, Falcons, FLC open at home

CIF Sac-Joaquin Section tourney tips off Wednesday
By: Mike Ray, Gold Country News Service
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Area boys hoop teams will wipe the slate clean Wednesday and start the trek towards what they hope leads to “March Madness” as the first round of the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section basketball playoffs gets underway.

Locally, three boys squads – Placer, Colfax and Forest Lake Christian – will reap the benefits of high seeds and open Wednesday's 7 pm. CIF tourney action with home games. Del Oro, meanwhile, will hit the road and play at Del Campo.

Placer’s boys will be treading in unfamiliar territory Wednesday. When the Hillmen entertain Inderkum, it will be the first time they have hosted a boys playoff game since 2001 when Placer defeated Ponderosa in a Div. II contest, 65-59.

Mark Lee’s squad will also be looking to end a four-game post-season loss skid. Placer’s last win in the playoffs came in 2003 when the No. 12 seed Hillmen went on the road and handed No. 5 Oakdale, a 53-47 loss.   

Colfax, meanwhile, the No. 1 seed in Div. IV, hosts Hughson while No. 7 Forest Lake Christian will be at home against No. 10 Bradshaw Christian.

Wednesday's  winners will advance to Friday night’s quarter-final round games which are also set for home sites of the higher remaining seed.

Here’s a capsule look at Wednesday's boys playoff openers:

Div. III – No. 10 Inderkum (18-9) at No. 7 Placer (19-8) -  The Hillmen and Tigers are no strangers having played in the second round of the Rail City Classic in Sparks back in December. The first meeting between the Hillmen and Tigers bobbed-and-weaved back and forth the whole way before  Inderkum’s Terrance White made a pair of free throws with less than a second on the clock for the 59-58 win. In early January, playing without White who was sidelined with an injury, Inderkum lost to Bear River, 59-56. However, since then, the Tigers won nine of their last 11 games and grabbed the outright Tri-County Conference championship with a 51-37 win over Natomas Tuesday.  Placer hopes to counter the athletic Tigers with a balnced attack led by Isaiah Pineiro, Peter Kean, Mike McNamara and Andrew Dahlin.

Div. IV – No. 16 Hughson (11-13) at No. 1 Colfax (22-5) – Since 2006, Colfax has emerged as the Div. IV’s top seed on five different occasions, going on to win section titles in ’06, ’07 and ’10. Also, in 2008, a No. 3 Colfax team defeated No. 4 Amador for the crown, 53-44. Wednesday’s foe Hughson isn’t coming to Colfax setting the court afire as the Huskies have dropped three of their last four games. Hughson, however, led by a pair of sophomore guards in Devondre Stendardo and Tyler May, did defeat No. 10 seed Ripon, 63-62, two weeks ago.

Div. II – No. 9 Del Oro (18-9) at No. 8 Del Campo (19-8) – Being able to contain the Cougars’ potent 1-2 scoring punch of Vasilije Sarbada and Semir Cahtarevic will be one of Del Oro’s main goals when the Golden Eagles travel to Fair Oaks to take on Del Campo. In Del Oro’s 76-70 overtime win over the Cougars in January, Sarbada scored 22 and Cahtarevic added 16. The Del Oro-Del Campo winner will move on to play at the survivor of and out-bracket game between Wood and River City and No. 2 Sacramento High. Del Oro is hoping to have the services back of point guard Danny Becker who has been out since suffering a concussion in the first quarter of the Roseville game, Feb. 6.

Div. V – No. 10 Bradshaw Christian (16-9) at No. 7 Forest Lake Christian (19-7) – Quietly and without a whole lot fanfare, the Falcons are on the verge of their first 20-win season since current coach Jason Comacho teamed with current UC Davis player Jost Ritchart to lead FLC to a 21-7 mark. In Bradshaw Christian, the Falcons will be facing a team that placed second in the Sierra Delta League behind Encina. The Pride are sparked by 5-10 freshman point guard Isaiah Brooks and 6-5 junior wing Justin Sobloviak.