Girls hoops playoffs: No. 4 Placer not looking past No. 13 Rosemont

Takayama says Del Oro's Ruiz will play 'situational basketball'
By: Matthew Kimel, Journal sports editor
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The hiatus is almost over.

After what seems like a BCS-like break between games, the playoffs tip-off Tuesday at 7 p.m. for high school girls basketball teams in the Sac-Joaquin Section.

In Auburn, the Div. III fourth-seeded Lady Hillmen (23-4) are hosting No. 13 Rosemont (13-14), which Placer first started scouting on Feb. 11 before tournament brackets were released.

The long layoff between the regular season and the playoffs could perhaps benefit Placer more than any other team. The Lady Hillmen, who last played on Feb. 7 when they clinched a share of the Pioneer Valley League title, have had six girls dealing with sickness since.

Despite the contrast in seeds and records, Placer coach Tony Camillucci is not expecting the Wolverine of the Metro Conference to be a pushover.

“They’re in a very tough league,” Camillucci said of Rosemont, which competes in the same league as heavyweights Sacramento, Kennedy, McClatchy and Florin. “It’s a loaded league. They’re a very good 13 seed. I don’t think their record is an indication of their talent.”

Camillucci said his girls aren’t looking past Rosemont.

“We were really pleased to share a league championship,” he added. “Everything else now is just icing on the cake.”

In Loomis, No. 5 Del Oro (17-10) hosts No. 12 Tracy (16-10) in a Div. II bracket opener.

Lady Eagles coach Mike Takayama said, despite not winning the Sierra Foothill League for the first time in seven years, his team is hoping to cap off a great year with a playoff run. Takayama said University of Washington-bound Brianna Ruiz, who recently returned to action after knee surgery, will get some playing time throughout the postseason.

“She’s not going to play 32 minutes for us, but she’ll try to help us out in situational basketball when she can,” Takayama said. “At the same time, we’re not going in thinking she’s going to play 25 or more minutes. Everybody will have to continue doing what they’re doing. But she’s definitely a viable threat.”

Over at Lake of the Pines, top-seeded Bear River (23-3) is set to host Hilmar (18-8) in a first-round Div. IV playoff.

Bear River coach Jeff Bickmore didn’t have much concern last week not knowing who his team would face until after Friday’s outbracket contest between Mariposa and Hilmar.

“I think as a No. 1 seed we should be in good shape,” he said. “I’m more concerned with how we play.”

Up at Colfax, the second-seeded Lady Falcons (18-9) take on Los Banos (13-14) in another Div. IV contest.

After Colfax won its regular season finale, clinching a share of the PVL title with Bear River and Placer, coach Dave Campbell said his team was rather “lethargic” in a 35-27 victory over Lincoln.

Since then, he said, “We’ve been shooting all week long and scrimmaging. These kids are ready to play basketball. Their energy level is up.”

No. 10 Foresthill heads south to Stockton to take on No. 7 Big Valley Christian in a Div. V showdown.

“I am actually happy with the draw because we are a better road team than at home,” said Wildfires coach Sean Namanny, who added he isn’t sure how his team will handle the longer than usual trek. “We average nine points in the first quarter at home and 13 in the first quarter on the road or neutral sites.”

Also in Div. V, No. 9 Forest Lake Christian (15-11) travels to Modesto to play No. 8 Central Catholic (16-7).

Reach Matthew Kimel at Follow him on Twitter @matthewkimel