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Area boys teams target semifinal berths

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POSTED February 22, 2013 12:17 a.m.

The Manteca area’s three remaining boys basketball teams are a win away from advancing to the Sac-Joaquin Section semifinals and the California Interscholastic Federation Regional Championships.

Sierra (24-4), the No. 2 team in Division III, greets No. 7 Placer (20-8) of Auburn tonight. Weston Ranch and Ripon Christian also host, as they look to avoid ending up on the sour end of Cinderella stories.

Weston Ranch is seeded fourth in Division III and takes on No. 12 Rio Americano (15-13), which stunned No. 5 Lincoln 66-60 on Wednesday. The Cougars (20-8), meanwhile, had little trouble dispatching River Valley, 70-43. Rio Americano also has a win, 60-53, over the Yuba City school in a nonleague game on Dec. 4.

The Raiders of Sacramento have a dynamic scorer in 6-foot-2 shooting guard Kyler Joaquin. He fired 31 points in a 52-48 win over Laguna Creek, evidence of his explosiveness. Senior wing Zack Suarez and 6-5 center Luke Moore are also among their top players.

Ripon Christian (22-4), after a first-round bye in the Division V tournament, welcomes Tracy’s Delta Charter (17-7), the 11th-seeded squad that shocked No. 5 Elliot Christian 71-64. The Dragons can expect a tougher challenge from the three-time Southern League champion Knights, who are on the cusp of their fourth straight semifinal appearance.

Joseph Peebles anchors Delta Charter’s frontcourt. The 6-5 senior fills up the stat sheet on a nightly basis, averaging 19.8 points. 3.5 assists, 13.8 rebounds and 3.6 blocks.

Sierra continues its quest for a second straight championship-round appearance and takes on a familiar foe in Placer. In last year’s postseason opener, Sierra downed Placer, 61-45.

The Timberwolves hope to build momentum from their dominant outing on Wednesday when they crushed No. 15 Ceres, 66-25. They led 42-4 at halftime after shutting out the Bulldogs in the second period.

Also Wednesday, Placer held off No. 10 Inderkum 62-59 to avenge an early nonleague loss (59-58) to the Tigers. The Hillmen’s go-to player, 6-5 forward Isaiah Pineiro, erupted for 20 points, 18 rebounds and five blocks in the rematch. Guard Peter Kean and 6-2 forward Michael McNamara added 16 and 15 points, respectively.

All of Friday’s quarterfinal contests tip off at 7 tonight. The Division-III semifinals take place next Tuesday at Cosumnes River College in Sacramento, and the final four Division-V squads will meet at Galt High on Wednesday.

The Placer Hillmen defeated the Inderkum Tigers 62-59 in a thrilling basketball game at the Earl Crabbe gym Wednesday night. The Hillmen will now play Sierra High School in Manteca Friday. Isaiah Pineiro led the Hillmen with 20 points, 18 rebounds, five blocks, and three assists.

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