Handicapping Div. IV boys hoop playoffs
When the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section boys Div. IV basketball playoffs tip off on Wednesday night, it looks like no fewer than six teams appear more than capable to get all the way to Sleep Train Arena on March 2 and walk off with top honors.
While the top four seeds – Colfax. Summerville, Riverbank and Liberty Ranch – all look formable, there’s a host of “sleepers” just a step back that could wreak havoc with the bracket.
“There’s a lot of good teams out there,” said Colfax coach Mike O’Connell whose No. 1 seed Falcons will open the playoffs Wednesday by hosting No. 16 seed Hughson at 7 p.m. “It will be nice to be playing Wednesday at home.”
Here’s a capsule handicap look at the Div. IV boys field:
Favorites: No. 1 Colfax comes into the playoffs at 22-5 and is battle-tested after winning the outright Pioneer Valley League crown. Falcons also own a win over Chico High, the No. 1 rated large school in the North Section playoffs. Colfax’s depth took a hit when starting forward Paul Ramseth went down two weeks ago. Meanwhile, No. 2 Summerville (21-3) has good balance and size with 6-6 senior Jesse Roberson (13.8) and 6-7 senior Rosendo Amaya-Wood (12.8). Meanwhile, No. 3 Riverbank (22-3) has suffered two of its losses to Modesto Christian. The Bruins – with only one starter listed as tall as 6-3 – has connected for 185 three-point buckets this season.
Contenders: No. 4 Liberty Ranch (19-8) has one of the top scorers in the state in 6-2 senior guard Mike Meserole who is scoring at 25 points an outing. He’s joined by 6-4 sophomore D’Andre Stallings in leading the three-year-old Hawks to their first ever playoff berth. Mesa Verde has won 10 of its last 12 games and have three solid scorers in 6-1 sophomore Bret Lynch (15.5) 6-3 senior forward Roman Zazhitskiy (11.0) and 6-1 wing Ja Quan Deary (10.0).
Dark Horse: West Campus has enough overall-size, three starters at 6-3 and one at 6-6, to give Colfax problems in a potential second round game. The Warriors (15-12), who have won six of their past seven, are led by three players who average 12 points a game including 6-2 guard Conor Garber.
Sleepers: Quietly Bret Harte has posted a nice 20-7 season. The No. 6 seed Bullfrogs are 6-5 this season against Div. IV playoff foes. Encina, 19-7, and undefeated winners of the Sierra Delta Conference, is led by 6-6 Ricky Gregor and 6-4 Latwon Bryant.
Div. IV Boys
1st Round – Wed. Feb. 20 – All Games 7 p.m.
Hughson (11-13) at Colfax (22-5)
Escalon (16-11) at West Campus (15-12)
Amador (14-12) at Mesa Verde (20-7)
Mariposa (13-13) at Liberty Ranch (19-8)
Waterford (13-12) at Riverbank (22-3)
San Juan (16-11) at Bret Harte (20-7)
Ripon (11-16) at Encina (19-7)
Delhi (13-14) at Summerville (21-3)
Fri. Feb. 22 – Home Sites 7 p.m.
Wed. Feb. 27 – Tokay High, Lodi TBA
Sat. March 2, Sleep Train Arena, 3 p.m.