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Colfax boys brace for upstart Cougars

By: Journal Sports Staff
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Mike O’Connell isn’t looking at the number in front of Capital Christian on the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV bracket. The 13th-seeded Cougars are the lowest seed remaining in any division of the playoffs, but the Falcons expect a serious battle in today’s semifinal showdown at Tokay High in Lodi. “Hopefully we can slow them down,” O’Connell said. “At this level everyone can play and you’ve got to bring it. Capital Christian’s been playing really well and shooting really well. They hit eleven 3-pointers (last Friday against Central Catholic) and they shot 60 percent against Amador (in a first-round win).” Colfax’s size should be a major asset against the smaller Cougars. Senior center Ryan Salmonson has feasted on smaller foes all season while seniors Justin Witt, Joey Jergo and Kyle Greer are tough to mach up against. The Falcons (25-4) have relied on their offensive balance all season. Six players average more than five points a game and any of them are capable of big scoring nights. “We play as a team,” O’Connell said. “We move the ball to the open guy and there’s no selective passing with this team.” Witt is the team’s senior captain and unquestioned leader on the court. “He leads on both ends, gets offensive rebounds and handles the ball,” O’Connell said. “He’s just an all-around solid player. We look to him for calm, composure and leadership.” Colfax won its first two playoff games by a combined 41 points, but today’s contest figures to be much tighter. Capital Christian (14-13) lost by double figures just once all season. Forwards Marshall Ruecker (12 points per game) and Brian Simmons (10 per game) lead the Cougars’ offense. Among common opponents, Capital Christian lost to Whitney 42-38. Colfax beat Whitney twice (61-45 and 61-46). The Falcons also beat Grant and Christian Brothers in December while both teams beat the Cougars. The winner of tonight’s game will face the winner of today’s Modesto Christian-Calaveras contest for the section title on Saturday at 3 p.m. at Arco Arena.