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It’s home sweet home for three area teams

WR has hands full with top-seeded Sacramento on road

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It’s home sweet home for three area teams

Scott Thomason and his No. 4 Sierra Timberwolves are going into Wednesday's home playoff game against No. 13 St. Mary's of Stockton with guarded optimism.

Bulletin photo/


POSTED February 24, 2009 4:34 a.m.
After meeting twice for epic Valley Oak League showdowns, Manteca and Sierra will go their separate ways Wednesday when the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs tip off.
VOL champion Manteca (24-3) figures to have the toughest draw of the three area teams hosting first-round games, as the always-tough No. 9 Oak Ridge of El Dorado Hills comes to town to begin the Division II playoffs.
Beating the Trojans (19-6) won’t be an easy task for the eighth-seeded Buffaloes. With four of five seniors returning from last year’s playoff team, head coach Dave Asuncion said that their experience offsets Manteca’s home-court advantage.
“They’ve already been (to the playoffs), and this is our first time in almost 10 years,” Asuncion said. “I got to see them at a tournament in Turlock, and they’re well coached and fundamentally sound. And I’m sure they’ve gotten a lot better since then.”
Oak Ridge is solid inside and out, with 6-foot-6 Chris Browning (10.6 ppg, 5.9 rpg) and Colin Johnson (15.6 ppg) patrolling the paint, and Ryan Mastella (13 ppg) representing the main threat from the perimeter.
Across town, Sierra (20-6) will play host to familiar foe St. Mary’s (12-15), which had been a preseason opponent for the Timberwolves in recent years.
While it’s certainly been a down year for St. Mary’s compared to previous seasons, Sierra coach Scott Thomason expects the Rams to put up a fight.
“We have to look at how they played in league, because they didn’t have some of their players from the football season (St. Mary’s competed for the Division II State Bowl Game title) for a while,” Thomason said. “They’ve won four games in a row, so they’re coming in with a lot of confidence.
“It’ll be a great challenge for us.”
Mark Solario, a 6-5 forward, averages 11.4 points and 6.4 rebounds to lead St. Mary’s, with 6-2 guard Josh Harper (10.8 ppg, 3.8 apg) providing an athletic complement in the perimeter.
Weston Ranch (13-13) is fortunate to qualify for the Division III playoffs after dropping its final four league contests, but it will have to take on No. 1 Sacramento on the road.
Sacramento, the reigning NorCal titleholder and state championships finalist, is led by San Diego State-bound shooting guard Chase Tapley (22.2 ppg) and sophomore point guard Josiah Turner (15.1 ppg), who has committed to Arizona State.
No. 5 Ripon Christian (15-11) tips off the Division V tournament against No. 12 Millennium of Tracy. Millennium (15-10) is led by 5-10 guard Ruben DeLeon, who pumps in 20.9 points per game.

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